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garden buildings garden wildlife natural pest control

A New Summerhouse for Avocet

There comes a time when every wooden garden building reaches the point when it can no longer be repaired – beyond the point of no return! This recently happened to our summerhouse which looked out over our wildlife pond. It had been up for 12 years or so and I have lost track of the times I had to repair weather damage from sun, wind and rain. So the time arrived when we had to bite the bullet and order a new one.

We ordered a replacement which would sit on the footprint of the original, not an easy task as it is an unusual shape.Normally we would have erected and painted it ourselves, but with serious hand surgery in the offing we had our new summerhouse delivered, painted and erected as part of the deal. But we did demolish the old one – we were not going to miss out on the fun!

We wandered down to the bottom of the garden and set about the destruction heartily, with lump and sledge hammers and monkey and gorilla wrenches to hand. We had week of bashing fun!

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We made some new spidery friends who were hibernating behind panels so we had to re-house them. They are an essential part of our wildlife pest control unit so we had to look after them.

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And so with our spider friends rehoused we raised the old summerhouse to the ground. For a while we had a see-through summerhouse and then none at all!

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We then had to break up the old wood to use as firewood for the woodburner.

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Before the new summerhouse arrived we had to prepare a level solid base for it.

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We were delighted  with the new summerhouse and were soon looking forward to painting the inside and putting the furniture and artifacts back.

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First though we had to paint the interior as we want it to be as light as possible. Once the paint dried some of our artefacts soon decorated the walls.

 

We can’t wait to take advantage of our new summer house and sit inside admiring our garden while we drink coffee and enjoy some of Jude’s delicious home-made cake!

A few weeks after completing our summer house build we added a deck which would sit in front of it and go out over the end of the pond. Our son and son-in-law, Jamie and Rob came with their families to build the deck for us as following surgery on my thumb I can only use one hand. We sent for the cavalry! While the boys constructed the deck daughter Jo worked away in the new Arabella Garden adding edging to the borders  and stopped frequently to give advice.

The final jobs were to put down carpet, varnish the deck and get the furniture and pictures back in.

     

We are so pleased with our new summerhouse now it is finished and are regularly enjoying spending time relaxing in it.

 

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buildings garden buildings garden furniture garden photography garden seating garden wildlife gardening gardens gardens open to the public hardy perennials nurseries Shropshire village gardens walled gardens Yellow Book Gardens

Mynd Hardy Plants – return to a favourite nursery.

Jude the Undergardener, aka Mrs Greenbench, and I are not fans of garden centres where things horticultural are disappearing under an avalanche of gifts, fancy foods, pet foods etc etc but we do love our independently run plant nurseries and have a handful of local favourites we visit when we need plants to complete new plantings or just fancy a bit of compulsive plant buying. Mynd Hardy Plants situated in Shropshire’s Corvedale ranks as a top favourite, so we thought you may enjoy coming on a visit with us. The fact that it opens for the National Garden Scheme like we do is an extra bonus.

As soon as we pull up to park the car alongside the outer wall of the walled garden we feel warmly welcome and this warmth increases as we enter through the old doorway. When we take our first steps inside smiles appear.

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Mynd Hardy Plants is not simply a nursery it is also a garden, and both aspects are worthy of a visit in their own right. But of course a simple tea shop selling home made cakes and beverages with seats overlooking the nursery and gardens is a real bonus.

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Comfy rustic seats invite us to sit and appreciate the atmosphere of the walled garden.

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It wasn’t just us enjoying our visit, there was plenty of wildlife around. We could see movement throughout the areas of rich and colourful flowering. Bees, Hoverflies and Butterflies were busily feeding on the most simple flowers, the daisies and spires in particular.

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There are so many exciting plants and complementary plant combinations at every turn and around every corner at Long Mynd Hardy Plants that the only way to share so much with you is by creating a gallery for your enjoyment. As usual click on the first photo and then navigate using the arrows.

On our last visit we spent time talking with nursery-woman Jill over coffee and cake overlooking the nursery she outlined their ambitious plans and explained what her and her husband had achieved since we last saw them.We expect these plans will be achieved and we look forward to seeing more changes as we visit in the future.

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Jill explained that when they cleared the derelict half of the old walled garden they discovered a range of ancient glasshouses and a long run of cold frames. Eventually these will be restored and will be an amazing addition to the nursery and garden. An old orchard is under restoration too and there will soon be stock beds for visitors to study as well.

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We hope you enjoyed this snapshot of a great little independent nursery and display garden as much as we enjoyed sharing it with you.

 

 

Categories
buildings colours garden buildings garden design garden photography garden ponds garden pools gardening gardens gardens open to the public hardy perennials Herefordshire irises nurseries ornamental trees and shrubs water garden water in the garden

A Water Garden around an Old Mill

A while ago now we visited this wonderful water garden created around an old water mill on the outskirts of the beautiful Herefordshire village of Pembridge. We decided it was about time for a return visit and also time to peruse the Old Chapel Galleries in the same village. After spending some time and too much money on new sculptures for the garden we drove a few miles on and parked up in the garden car park under lovely mature trees. We collected our hand drawn plan of the garden and set off to explore the Westonbury Mill Water Gardens. Immediately we were impressed by how fresh everything looked and were drawn to bright patches of colourful planting among the greenery.

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As in any good garden the quality and choice of individual plants is a key factor in making it an enjoyable place to visit. Take a look at these beauties at Westonbury Mill. Being a water garden designed around a series of streams and pools we searched out the water and marsh loving plants first and found many in flower including the following specimens. Irises including varieties of I.ensata, the wild flowerheads of Butomis, the flowering rush and various Primulas including P. florindae and Rodgersias.

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Even though this was a water garden there were plenty more perennials flowering well and catching the attention of visitors.

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Westonbury is well-known for its collection of follies, built by the garden owner for the sheer fun of it and to amuse the visitors, although they can also have a secondary purpose.

We discovered the first just as we approached the garden itself and so we could enjoy it from outside the garden and within. Water rose up a water ladder from the stream beneath to be released into the hands of gravity thus sending water spewing from the mouth of a stone gargoyle.

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Through a structure of willow rather than stone we moved on to discover further eccentric buildings including a glass bottle igloo, towers and shelters.

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To give you an idea of the feel of the garden and the quality of the planting and structure I thought I would finish this post about Westonbury Mill Water Gardens with a selection of broad shots taken as we wandered its many winding paths.

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What a lovely atmospheric garden this is! Full of interest and full of interesting plants and features.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
arboreta autumn autumn colours colours garden buildings garden photography gardens gardens open to the public ornamental trees and shrubs sculpture trees

Arboreta in Autumn – Batsford Part 2

As we return to Batsford we are still wandering along the pathway that promised us views of plen1ty of unusual and beautiful trees and shrubs. Being autumn of course gives us the added benefits that it brings – yellows, oranges and reds in every shade possible. Many are on the ground at our feet so rather than just their colours we enjoyed their sounds as we scrunched through them with our boots and kicked them into the air bringing back childhood memories. Jude the Undergardener and I have frequent childhood memories which we have to relive.

Think of autumn colour and for many the first plant to spring into the mind is the massive family of Acers. Batsford has dozens of varieties both trees and shrubs.

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We were drawn in by the sight of raspberry coloured seed pods shaped like arthritic old fingers. They were hanging on a Magnolia x veichii “Peter Veitch”, with its large pleated leaves.

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The scent from these lovely acid yellow Mahonia reminded us of pineapples which made our mouths water!

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We have a Liquidamber styraciflua “Worplesdon” in our front garden which is fastigiate so takes up little room, but this beauty would dwarf an awful lot of our other plants. The Liquidamber styraciflua here is a beautiful tree as are all Liquidamber.

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There is more to this arboretum than trees and shrubs as we discovered when we came across this Japanese style building and oriental sculptures, all adding a little eastern spice.

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This sculture was equally beautiful but was simply created by Mother Nature as the top of this tree had died away.

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Wherever I go in the autumn and winter I keep an eye out for dried seed heads and flower heads as I enjoy their colours, shapes and textures. I managed to manoeuvre my self and my camera to photograph these against dark leafy backgrounds.

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Just a few shots now to illustrate how much colour can be found around trees in this autumnal period.

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The pale raspberry coloured fruit of Cornus x cousa “Norman Hadden”  once ripe will be enjoyed by the local Blackbird population but they look good before they disappear.

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So that is it for our visit to Batsford Arboretum for now but I feel sure we will be back.

Categories
allotments community gardening garden buildings Winter Gardening

A day of destruction as a funnel hits our allotments

Last week a wild wind phenomenon hit our allotments and left a trail of destruction in its wake. A “funnel” tore its way across the plots and it flattened sheds in its path. It moved sheds from their bases. It took the roofs off others. Anything light was scattered about, compost bins, water butts and cold-frames.

In the first pair of pictures half of the felt from the shed roofs had been torn off typical of the minor damage to many sheds. Others like the one in the third photo had been blown from off its base and it collapsed in a heap, with the contents crushed inside. See if you can see which bit is which.

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Others fell off their bases and landed on their sides remaining almost intact while others lost their roofs which took off like kites.

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On our own plot there was little damage. We had an allotment years ago on another very windy site so we  were prepared like all good scouts and guides. We had sunk heavy fence posts at each corner of our shed and fixed the shed by screwing it firmly from the inside. (see photo below). Our tripods had crashed, our wooden planks awaiting transformation into a raised bed for strawberries were blown across the plot, our central metal gazebo was well bent and our flying scarecrow, Biggles, was blown from the top of it and we found his plane crash landed nearby but sadly Biggles and his head had parted company.

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This devastation came in the middle of an ongoing problem with water-logging and floods, so it really felt as if the weather had got it in for us.

At home we did not get the funnel passing through but we had days of gale force winds roaring through the garden. It managed to lift our lovely Ceanothus right out of the ground roots and all! The tree ties had been broken and the tree stake had snapped a few inches from the ground. The last of our rose arches finally collapsed hurrying up our replacing them with wooden arches.

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When Jude and I next went up the lotties a week after the great storm we were amazed to find everything had been put back to how things were before, most of the sheds were back on their bases, roofs repaired and those that had toppled over were upright again. The biggest surprise of all was to see the shed that had barrel-rolled down the path back on its base and looking pretty good considering. Without saying a word to Paul, the owner of the shed, some fellow allotmenteers had got together and moved it back for him. Just look how good it looks in the photo below. In the second photo if you look in the background to the right you can see Henry’s shed also back in place and roof repaired. This is why we call our site Bowbrook Allotment Community with the emphasis on community.

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The storm hit mostly during the night and then had abated by mid-morning. In the afternoon two members emailed me with photos and details of the plots that had received damage. This meant that I could contact the individuals concerned and let them know the sad news. One couple went round the sight with a smart phone and as they found a plot that had sustained some damage they sent me a photo with details and plot number.They even made some damaged sheds safe and did temporary repairs. This sort of helping each other is what makes life easy for me as Chairman. I felt proud to be involved!

Most of the photos in this post are from members of Bowbrook Allotment Community.

Categories
garden buildings

Building a new log store

Why do piles of logs neatly stacked always look so good in a garden? They are somehow welcoming indicating perhaps that inside there awaits the comfort of an open log fire or roaring log burner. We have always stored our logs under the overhang alongside our front door, which smells lovely as you approach or as you open the door in the morning. That lovely smell of cut wood.

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However this summer we have had a wood burner fitted in our conservatory so we need more wood storage. We had logs piled in any vacant space we could find around the house and garden. In the picture below these logs are piled up leaning against my fishing storage shed on the edge of the path between the shed and our garage. It was all getting a bit annoying.

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The answer was another wood shed and in a rash moment I decided I could make one! I decided I would design and construct one that would store a whole load of logs and at the same time hide the refuse wheelie bins.

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Well I did manage but will admit it did take a few weeks to achieve.

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But I have to say I am rather pleased with the end result. Now I must telephone Ben the woodsman for a trailer load of logs. I feel sure the logs will be well-seasoned as I have allowed for plenty of air movement and it should get plenty of sun.

Categories
bird watching birds garden design garden photography garden wildlife gardening natural pest control photography Shropshire shrubs village gardens wildlife

Summer house revamp

After ten years our summer-house, our little quiet place of escape at the bottom of the garden, was beginning to look worse for wear. The back wall faces directly south so gets harsh sun on it in the summer months and as our garden is at the bottom of a hill temperature inversion in the winter means that the poor summer-house feels the full effect of  the cold frosty air as it rolls down the hill to hit our summer-house first. The first two pics show the summer-house as we began work, with the original interior on the left and the first stages of cladding the walls on the right.

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We decided to re-clad it inside and out and then repaint both the inside and outside. A job that ended up taking us a long time as we fitted it in between more interesting gardening tasks.
But at last we have finished! A big sigh of relief can be heard all over the garden!

So, first let us share with you what it looks like now.

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The summer-house is our little secret place where we hide at the bottom of the garden and ignore the telephone and doorbell, pretend that television and computers don’t exist and believe there is no lane passing our house.

It catches the evening sun in the last few hours before it sets, so is a great place to end the day. We sit and listen and we can appreciate a different view of our garden. We listen to the calls and songs of our garden birds and those passing over our heads. We can share the intimacy of their bathing as they come to freshen up in the shallow end of our wildlife pool. A square of decking sits in front of the summer-house and hangs over the pool.

Please share the view from our summer-house seat.

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To give you an idea of some of the special things we can see right now from our little house I have taken a few shots with a long zoom on my camera.

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As we enjoyed a coffee in the summer house today, a female blackbird came to bathe almost splashing our feet. She must have been enjoying a few moments off the nest, a few moments to herself. A house sparrow also came to bathe when the blackbird returned to the nest. On the nearby bird feeders a nuthatch noisily bashed away at the peanuts with its long powerful beak and took small bits back to its young in a hole in a nearby tree. It soon returned for more and we heard its beak tapping on the metal mesh of the feeder.

A blue tit couple are rearing young in a nest box fixed to the summer-house and we watched as they appeared with beaks full of wriggling caterpillars. We could hear the fledglings begging as they open their yellow wide gapes to beg for their share of the wrigglers.

In the pond itself life lives on the film of water and secretly below the surface. Pond skaters dominate the surface but they are frequently joined by sub-surface dwellers in need of a gulp of air, newts, water boatmen and water beetles. Below the surface we can watch tadpoles of frogs and toads feeding and fattening themselves up.

The pond is home to many of our pest controllers such as newts, toads and frogs who all breed here at our feet.

But as we look out and appreciate our garden and its life, one nosey bird looks in to see what we are up to. A robin comes close, perches on the nearby malus and watches us with head cocked to one side as if bemused.

As we rest in our little summer-house world the garden and its wildlife busily carry on close by.