Categories
autumn autumn colours climbing plants colours garden design garden designers garden photography gardening gardens gardens open to the public grasses hardy perennials Italian style gardens light light quality ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs outdoor sculpture Piet Oudolf sculpture Staffordshire Tom Stuart-Smith trees

A Garden in October/November – Trentham

We have now reached the penultimate posting in this series where we have been looking at how Trentham Gardens in Staffordshire have changed through the months during 2014. Since our last visit in September Autumn has taken a strong grip on the gardens. Many leaves have taken on their auutmn hues and many have fallen. But it is amazing how much colour there still is to enjoy, colours in late flowers, dried stems and seed heads.

2014 11 04_7144 2014 11 04_7154 2014 11 04_7153 2014 11 04_7167 2014 11 04_7182

We always cross over the gently arching suspension footbridge over the River Trent full of anticipation. On our visit in early November we were presented with a sea of yellows, where Piet Oudolf’s River of Grasses had been transformed by the passage of time into a river of liquid gold.

2014 11 04_7143 2014 11 04_7144 2014 11 04_7145 2014 11 04_7146 2014 11 04_7147 2014 11 04_7148 2014 11 04_7149

We wandered along the gravel path as it cut through the line of River Birch, Betula nigra in search of Oudolf’s prairie borders. These beautiful trees had already shed all their leaves but still drew our eyes as their bark was peeling and curling decoratively away from their trunks.

2014 11 04_7150

Once in amongst the prairie planting we immediately noticed that seed heads in every hue of brown and beige and bright patches of late colour had joined the lemons, mustards and golds of the grasses. Pale purples glowed in the dull light of autumn. This glow is their secret weapon to attract moths and other night flying pollinators.

2014 11 04_7151 2014 11 04_7152 2014 11 04_7153 2014 11 04_7154

The gardening team were hard at working replanting a section of one of the borders. It must be a never ending task. I suppose it gives them the chance to keep improving things as well as keeping the gardens in top condition.

2014 11 04_7155 2014 11 04_7156

Deep pinks and cerise of the Persicarias and the Knautias catch the eye of every visitor. They look so good against the neutral shades that dominate gardens in the autumn.

2014 11 04_7157 2014 11 04_7158 2014 11 04_7159 2014 11 04_7160 2014 11 04_7161 2014 11 04_7162 2014 11 04_7164 2014 11 04_7166

2014 11 04_7165  2014 11 04_7167 2014 11 04_7168 2014 11 04_7169 2014 11 04_7171 2014 11 04_7172 2014 11 04_7173  2014 11 04_7174

This lovely old Tulip Tree caught our attention. It is the oldest of its kind we have ever seen and a notice close by warned of the danger of falling branches. It must be susceptible to winter storms but should it fall it would make a wonderful natural bridge over the Trent. The dome of Hornbeam over a bench is now a golden dome.

2014 11 04_7170 2014 11 04_7175

We made our way towards the formally planted Italian Parterre Garden, passing through an archway of Hornbeams on the way. Sunlight penetrated the coniferous plantings casting long shadows and creating bright patches. It lit up the little low box hedges of the  knot garden.

2014 11 04_7176 2014 11 04_7177

The summer bedding in the parterre has been consigned to the compost heaps and winter/spring plants has taken their place, primulas and a deep red Bellis perennis.

2014 11 04_7178 2014 11 04_7179 2014 11 04_7180 2014 11 04_7181

We always enjoy our first look out over the Tom Stuart-Smith gardens. We were not to be disappointed today.

2014 11 04_7182 2014 11 04_7183 2014 11 04_7184 2014 11 04_7185 2014 11 04_7186 2014 11 04_7187

The autumn light emphasised the texture on this bronze sculpture and on the much newer tunnel archway which marks the way into the display gardens. It gave an all new look to the low slate walls around one of these gardens too. It again emphasised the texture but brought out extra colours too. The light similarly added colour to the plants and to the glass panels featured in another of the display gardens.

2014 11 04_7188 2014 11 04_7189 2014 11 04_7190 2014 11 04_7191 2014 11 04_7192 2014 11 04_7194 2014 11 04_7195 2014 11 04_7196 2014 11 04_7197 2014 11 04_7198 2014 11 04_71992014 11 04_7200 2014 11 04_7201

A wander back through the Stuart-Smith gardens gave us the chance to see the planting in a different light. As the afternoon had progressed the sun dropped down lower and was back-lighting the plants, giving a very different perspective.

 

 

2014 11 04_7202 2014 11 04_7203 2014 11 04_7204 2014 11 04_7205

The Rose Walk was still remarkably colourful with Roses, Cleomes and Verbena bonariensis still putting on strong performances. Butterflies and bees were still busy here too, the blooms having attracted them as they emerged hunting for sustenance as the temperatures rose slightly in the afternoon sunlight. You can see our long shadows cast across the border.

2014 11 04_7207 2014 11 04_72082014 11 04_7210 2014 11 04_7217

 

From the long metal pergola we looked back over the Oudolf gardens and at the shrubs nearby and the butter yellow leaves of the Wisteria climbing over the framework.

2014 11 04_7211 2014 11 04_7212 2014 11 04_7213 2014 11 04_7215 2014 11 04_7218 2014 11 04_7219

 

Now we can look forward to our final visit to Trentham for this year in readiness to publish the final episode in this series of posts. So far we have determined that gardens at Trentham are worthy of a visit any month of the year. Let us hope our December visit confirms it.

 

Categories
garden design garden designers garden photography gardening gardens hardy perennials meadows National Garden Scheme ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs The National Gardening Scheme" Tom Stuart-Smith Yellow Book Gardens

Post 500 – Tom Stuart-Smith at Serge Hill

As promised for the third in my week’s posts celebrating my 500th post we go down to Hertfordshire to explore Tom Stuart-Smith’s garden designs at his own home and the home of his sister. The family home at Serge Hill is surrounded by mature planting. The new gardens  designed by T S-S are within its grounds. When these gardens open they are very popular with thousands of visitors making an appearance. It looks very busy and taking photos is difficult as the gardens are only open for one day each year as part of the National Garden Scheme, so people find it in the famous Yellow Book. The friendly herd of Guernsey calves greeted every visitor. We wandered through the gardens around the house which had been there a long time but the influence of T S-S can be seen.

2014 06 22_0703-1 2014 06 22_0671-12014 06 22_0668-1 2014 06 22_0599-12014 06 22_0600-1   2014 06 22_0604-1 2014 06 22_0601-1 2014 06 22_0609-1 2014 06 22_0614-1 2014 06 22_0612-1 2014 06 22_0611-1 2014 06 22_0610-1

In the gardens at Tom’s and his sister’s, both designed to suit their particular needs, we felt we had found the nearest to perfection in meadow planting, prairie planting and courtyard planting. Come with us and see what you think.

Firstly I shall share my photos of the courtyard at The Barn. It has an atmosphere of such calm. Those loungers must provide a wonderful place in which to relax and be content with the world. The rectangular corton steel pools with their sheets of water dyed black for extra reflection mirror so clearly the moving clouds and any overhanging plants. Looking into them it appears as if they are bottomless.

2014 06 22_0675-3 2014 06 22_0684-1

2014 06 22_0678-1 2014 06 22_0681-1

 

2014 06 22_0674-1 2014 06 22_0680-1

The planting is so simple but effective. Every plant has its place and complements its partners perfectly. Chartreuse and purple flowers and bracts work together so well against their background of grasses and coloured foliage.

2014 06 22_0676_edited-1 2014 06 22_0689-1

2014 06 22_0694-1 2014 06 22_0695-1

2014 06 22_0699-1 2014 06 22_0701-1

 

 

2014 06 22_0697-1 2014 06 22_0677_edited-1

Reaching the prairie we found fellow garden fellow visitors exploring every pathway that were winding throughout.

2014 06 22_0714-1

Close by a huge area had been planted as a native wildflower meadow which provided a wonderful contrast to the more vibrant prairie. We shall look in greater detail at the prairie and meadow as well as Tom Stuart-Smith’s sister’s garden in the next post.

 

 

Categories
autumn autumn colours colours fruit and veg garden design garden designers garden photography gardening gardens gardens open to the public grasses hardy perennials Italian style gardens light light quality meadows ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs photography Piet Oudolf shrubs Staffordshire Tom Stuart-Smith trees

A garden in September – Trentham

So here we are back for the September visit to the wonderful gardens at Trentham. We arrived in bright sunshine which was a big change to the usual weather on our visits here. Usually we get wet but today looked set fair with blue sky with just a scattering of white clouds. As we walked over the bridge into the gardens we looked down into the River Trent below to see it swollen with floodwater and carrying much dirt in its wake. The water of the Trent flowed brown and the grasses of Piet Oudolf’s River of Grasses refleced this colour.

2014 09 30_5360 2014 09 30_5361

Moving into Oudolf’s Prairie there was much more variety in the colours although grasses remained powerful elements. The tall herbaceous perennials were showing deepening colours as autumn approaches. Rich rubies, purples and blues were, in places, lit up by the crisp white of the Seleniums and sunny yellows of Solidago.

2014 09 30_5364 2014 09 30_5365 2014 09 30_5366 2014 09 30_5367 2014 09 30_5368 2014 09 30_5369 2014 09 30_5370 2014 09 30_53712014 09 30_5372 2014 09 30_5373 2014 09 30_5374 2014 09 30_5375 2014 09 30_5377 2014 09 30_5376 2014 09 30_5378 2014 09 30_5379

Leaving the subtle but at the same time exciting Prairie we wandered off towards the Italian Garden with its traditional style of planting. We passed through a Hornbeam tunnel where the autumnal light played with shadows. Leaving its coolness our eyes were assaulted by Begonias and brightly leaved bananas.

2014 09 30_5380 2014 09 30_5382 2014 09 30_5381

We always look forward to our first glimpse of the delights that await us in Tom Stuart-Smith’s Italianate parterres. Looking from the balustrade the view spread out below in the geometric beds promised so much of interest, while a quick glance below showed bursts of red Dahlias and yellow Rudbeckias.

2014 09 30_5383 2014 09 30_5385

2014 09 30_5386 2014 09 30_5384

Once down among the many beds we soon discovered just what flowers were giving us the colourful sights.

2014 09 30_5392 2014 09 30_5390

These colours were enriched all the more by the russets and chocolates of the grasses and seed heads of perennials such as Phlomis and Verbascums.

2014 09 30_5387 2014 09 30_5388 2014 09 30_5389  2014 09 30_5391  2014 09 30_5393 2014 09 30_5394

We reluctantly left the Tom S-S plantings behind us and ambled off through the tall trees of the old parkland towards the display gardens. We glanced at the early autumn colours of Prunus trees between the silver bark of the trunks of Betula. Some Betula trunks were showing their great age and their textures contrasted strongly with their younger smoother neighbours.

2014 09 30_5395 2014 09 30_5396

 

Rhus trees were showing deep orange foliage which matched the petals of a lovely Dahlia.

2014 09 30_5397 2014 09 30_5398

Elsewhere another Rhus partnered a red leaved Cotinus. Coloured glass leaves atop silver stems added more colour close by.

2014 09 30_5402 2014 09 30_5403

White and purple spires of Actaea caught the light.

2014 09 30_5399 2014 09 30_5400

In the Allotment Garden orange globes of pumpkins were drying in the sun and heat of this Indian Summer.

2014 09 30_5401

After a light lunch we made our way towards the Rose Walk to see how things had changed since our visit last month. We passed back through some of the Tom S-S borders where we were drawn for a closer look towards the long thin seed pods of Amsonias.

2014 09 30_5405 2014 09 30_5404

Seedheads and dying flower heads of many different perennials and grasses were so enthralling that our walk back through these borders took rather longer than anticipated.

 

 

2014 09 30_5406 2014 09 30_5407 2014 09 30_5408 2014 09 30_5409 2014 09 30_5410 2014 09 30_5416

2014 09 30_5412 2014 09 30_5413 2014 09 30_5414 2014 09 30_5417

 

2014 09 30_5418 2014 09 30_5419

A long line of thin rectangular borders designed by Piet Oudolf act as a link between the Tom S-S garden and the Rose Walk. Here colour abounded.

 

 

2014 09 30_5420 2014 09 30_5421 2014 09 30_5422 2014 09 30_5423

In the Rose Walk itself most rose bushes were still in flower and tall flowers such as Cleome and Verbena bonariensis added even more colour.

 

2014 09 30_5424

We enjoyed the views from the Rose Walk back towards Oudolf’s Prairie and River of Grasses. We could also see the shrubs growing alongside it including a spectacular deciduous Euonymous with orange and red fruits.

 

2014 09 30_5425 2014 09 30_5426 2014 09 30_5427 2014 09 30_5428 2014 09 30_5363 2014 09 30_5363_edited-1

 

So this Indian Summer we are enjoying provided us with great light to view the gardens at Trentham but the strange seasons mean that many perennials and grasses were far more autumnal than we could have expected. Next month’s return to Trentham may well show Trentham to be well in the grip of Autumn.

 

 

Categories
Cheshire flower show garden design garden designers gardening gardens RHS

The RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park – Part 1 – The Best of the RHS Shows?

Okay so Chelsea gets all the publicity, all the air time on the BBC and is the place to be seen if you class yourself a “celebrity”. Some even see it as another “Ascot”, a chance to be seen and to wear a designer outfit and a big hat! Hampton Court Show gets plenty of coverage too in the press and on TV but is not seen as “the place to be seen”.

I have been to Chelsea and won’t go again. There are simply too many people there who are not interested in plants or gardens and let’s be honest the show gardens are just “not real” are the? Sorry, but it is about time budgets for show gardens were controlled and designers were brought back down to earth and restricted to designing with plants in season.

However go to the RHS Tatton Show and you are in for a treat. It is a garden show for real gardeners and the show gardens are full of realistic ideas to stimulate the thinking gardener. However the BBC just give it two half-hour slots. Not enough celebrities in attendance and no visit by the Queen I suppose! Just look at the look of sheer delight on the faces of Monty Don and Carol Klein when they broadcast from Tatton and listen to their obvious and genuine enjoyment in their voices. This year the theme of the show was carnival time and it was promoted as “The Great Garden Carnival” with the elements of “inspire, escape, grow and feast”.

Just like the BBC coverage we shall start with the show gardens. These show gardens are far more realistic with most designers using plants flowering and performing that are in season.

2014 07 27_1835 2014 07 27_1838

2014 07 27_1837 2014 07 27_1853

This means that gardeners can take away ideas to try in their own patches especially plant partnerships. Just look at the photo of the Echinacea and Achillea together, a combination we have used before but not in that colour combination, which looks so fresh and lively. And alongside that photo another showing the same Achillea with Helenium. This pale lemon Achillea appeared on many of the show gardens and looks a very worthwhile plant.

2014 07 27_1836 2014 07 27_1841

We were pleased to see grasses being used in fresh ways too especially smaller ones with gentle whispy flowers which showed off  one of their attributes, moving in the wind, so well. They were used with Chocolate Cosmos on one garden and with Veronicas on another, both equally effective.

2014 07 27_1839 2014 07 27_1840 2014 07 27_1842 2014 07 27_1843

Our favourite garden was this one by a young designer, his first ever RHS garden and he received a Gold. He was a very happy designer! We spoke to him for a long while and he explained his ideas and choice of plants to us. It was a fresh lively garden and as he pointed out to us not expensive to build. The strength of the design was in the use of triangles, which in itself is unusual.

2014 07 27_1844 2014 07 27_1845

This garden illustrated how corton steel can be used really well as long as the planting co-ordinates with it too. The pics show how well the steel and the plants worked together.

2014 07 27_1912 2014 07 27_1918

2014 07 27_1915 2014 07 27_1913

2014 07 27_1914 2014 07 27_1920

2014 07 27_1922 2014 07 27_1920

2014 07 27_1919 2014 07 27_1921

“Grow Your Own” was a feature in several gardens and appeared throughout all aspects of the show. Look at these smart raised beds and great ways to support climbing beans.

2014 07 27_1847 2014 07 27_1848

2014 07 27_1850 2014 07 27_1849 2014 07 27_1851

And of course no show based on creativity is complete without a little quirkiness! How about purple and lime green cauliflowers or a water feature based on recycled exhaust pipes, multicoloured birdboxes and even a rainbow of ribbons.

2014 07 27_1852 2014 07 27_1854 2014 07 27_1856 2014 07 27_1857

And of course there are always a few plants in the Floral Marquee or in the show gardens large and small that catch our eyes.

2014 07 27_1909 2014 07 27_1910 2014 07 27_1911 2014 07 27_1903

After that little diversion we can return to the show gardens which appealed to us.

2014 07 27_1923 2014 07 27_1924 2014 07 27_1925 2014 07 27_1926 2014 07 27_1927 2014 07 27_1928

I shall follow this post about the RHS Tatton Park Show with two more, one celebrating the gardeners of the future and one the colours that made the show so vibrant.