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My Garden Journal 2020 – June

Back to my garden journal for 2020 again and we are into the last month of the first half of the year, June, the month that sees the longest day and shortest night.

I began by sharing some of our rose bushes and climbing varieties that we grow throughout our garden in mixed borders and up obelisks and arches. I wrote, “June, the month for roses …………..”

I then featured photos of some of our red roses, writing, “Roses are red!”

Here are the photos of some of our red roses that grace our garden in June.

 

On the following page I continued with roses but those that were not red! “My flowering plant of the month!

Roses are red? Or white, cream peach, yellow ……..”

 

After looking at our flowering rose bushes and climbers, I did something completely different. I collect bark that had been detached from one of our birches by recent strong winds and created a collage, which lets us see the variety in colours and textures.

“In June windy days blow detached bark peelings from our birch, Betula albosinensis ‘Septentronalis’. We find what looks and feels like paper all around the garden. Each piece of peeled bark has its own character.”

We can look over the page now for a complete change as I looked at some wildlife found in our garden, a damselfly and a wasp. “Being a wildlife garden, our patch brings us some beautiful visitors for us to enjoy, to listen to and to watch. They help balance the natural world of our garden.”

“Damsel Flies hatch from our wildlife pond by the dozens, beginning with various ‘Azures’ and later the ‘Reds’.”

This beautiful yellow and black Ichneumon Wasp has appeared in our garden in good numbers for the first time ever this month.”

From wildlife we turn to succulents on the opposite page, where I wrote “Our foliage plants of the month of June are Aeoniums, a very special group of succulents. I have built up a good collection now.”

I then shared photos of a selection of some of our aeoniums……..

Next comes clematis, with two pages of pics. I wrote, “Clematis, herbaceous and climbers are flowering throughout the garden. Some are already on their second flush having flowered in the spring.”

The first of the two pages feature flowers from “Pale blue to deep purple.”

 

The second page showed “Every shade of red.”

The final page for June is all about the bark of Acer rufinerve. I wrote, Plant of the month for bark and stem this month is one of our snake-bark acers, Acer rufinerve also known as the ‘Melon-skin Maple’. These six photos start at the base of the trunk and move upwards.”

So that is my journal entries for June. Next report will be July.

 

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Simply Beautiful – 19

The woodland walk at Attingham Hall Park is one of our favourites and we walk it several time each year.

What a surprise this was! As we wandered along a bark chip path at Attingham Park Jude noticed water in the bowl of an old Beech tree. Closer examination revealed a tiny pond with crisp reflections of the upper branches of the Beech. Simple and beautiful! Simply beautiful!

 

I imagine that this mini-pond has an important role to play in the ecosystem of the wood, attracting tiny water creatures, providing a bathing place for birds and a drinking place for wildlife.

 

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My Garden Journal 2019 – August

Here we are with my journal entries looking at the last month of summer according to the the MetOffice. August has been a bright month with confused weather as has been this year’s norm. plants have continued to grow oversized and then flopped.

I began by writing, “August saw the arrival of some unusual pieces of garden sculpture to our garden, 3 corten steel panels and a bespoke bench made for us by sculptor Nik Burns.”

On the opposite page I continued, We both love Achilleas but sadly they are short-lived here, lasting 3 or 4 years only except for the tallest yellow cultivars ‘Goldplate’ and ‘Cloth of Gold’. All Achilleas partner beautifully with grasses and we love planting them together.”

 

I continued then by presenting a gallery of photos, where I wrote “An August Gallery”.

Garden wildlife features next, “August has been a great time for insects of all sorts. Butterflies are having their best time for years, seeing prolific numbers of all our garden favourites. Now we don’t grow veg we love the ‘Whites’ “

Over the page from my wildlife paintings, I continued “As usual during August we have plenty to do in the garden. I have now finished cutting the Buxus features. We spent hours tidying up in and around the pond and Jude weeded the two green roofs. We also added trellis to the Blackberry archway.”

Collecting seeds.                                                Taking cuttings.

Weeding the woodstore green roof and thinning the pond reeds.

Freshly trimmed cloud pruned box edging.

So that is my garden journal for August and now I am enjoying our patch in September and we will share that month in our garden in my next post in this series.

 

Over to the next double page spread and I

 

 

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countryside flowering bulbs garden arches garden buildings garden design garden paths garden photography garden seating garden wildlife gardening gardens gardens open to the public hardy perennials meadows National Garden Scheme NGS ornamental trees and shrubs pathways spring spring gardening village gardens wildlife Yellow Book Gardens

Another NGS Garden : Gorsty Bank – a wildlife friendly garden

This a wonderful wildlife friendly garden which opens for the NGS and is owned and gardened by fellow Hardy Plant Society Shropshire Group members Annie and Gary Frost. The garden is a short distance from home so we soon arrived after a short journey and enjoyed the walk through the village of Hyssington and up the drive to the garden. We found some lovely primulas along the lane and the driveway itself was atmospheric with old stone walls on one side and native hedging alongside.

We were warmly greeted by Gary and as usual made our way to the refreshments and enjoyed talking with Annie as we enjoyed tea and tasty homemade cakes. The views from our seats afforded an idea of the richness of the experience we could look forward to.

We then enjoyed a slow wander around this gentle garden with its paths and gateways to guide our way. We loved the two meadows and the mini-arboretum.

 

Another enjoyable return visit to a favourite NGS garden afforded us a great day out. We will be back!

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garden wildlife wildlife

Simply Beautiful No 23 in a very occasional series

Butterflies dominate our summer gardens for their beauty and the movement they add to our gardens. But let us not forget their cousins who grace the darker times in our gardens, the moths.

Throughout the summer months Jude and I put out our live moth trap to explore these night time visitors to our patch. We grow plants especially for them but it is good to see if they work or not in bringing them in.

We have hundreds of varieties turn up, many really difficult to identify, but a particular favourite is easy and they turn up almost every time the trap is used, the Elephant Hawk Moth. With its colours and patterns of pink and green it is a true beauty.

When we set up our trap in early July we caught seven of these beauties and enjoyed watching them go free. They often like to stay on our fingers before they depart and this time several stayed n foliage close by.

 

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garden design garden photography gardening gardens gardens open to the public hardy perennials National Trust ornamental trees and shrubs outdoor sculpture sculpture The National Trust trees

Anglesey Abbey in mid-Summer

Anglesey Abbey gardens are best known for their brilliant Winter Gardens, which were the first well-known gardens designed to be at their best and visited at this season. But there is far more to these premises than this seasonal garden, such as beautiful gentle herbaceous borders and lots of plants that attract wildlife.

 

The famous Winter Garden is still worth wandering through though!

 

We set off beyond the Winter Garden to see what we could discover of interest in the rest of the garden. We felt sure we were in for a few surprises! Turning a corner and rounding  a hedge of glossy leaved Laurel we found a mystery. A piece of sculpture? A clock? We explored it for a while before we realised its true identity.

The oak structures are designed to support visitors as they lean back to enjoy the wide Fenland skyscapes.

To return to the entrance we followed a tow path alongside a very overgrown canal, its surface carpeted with our native yellow waterlily.

Looking upwards we noticed an open structured sculptural piece hanging from a bough of a mature tree. It presented a strong contrast to the stone griffin close by.

  

In the end though what makes a good garden great is the quality of its plants and how they are put together. The photos below prove just how great the gardens at Anglesey Abbey truly are whatever time of year you visit.

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climbing plants colours garden design garden photography gardening gardens gardens open to the public half-hardy perennials hardy perennials meadows National Trust ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs poppies roses The National Trust

Packwood – one of the stars of the National Trust.

We have held memberships of the National Trust for over 40 years and one of the first we took our two children to was Packwood Hall. Packwood is now a firm favourite and we made a visit again this year. The welcome sign describes Packwood as “a house to dream of, a garden to dream in”. We were only intending to look at the house from the outside and mainly intended to explore the garden in greater detail. Packwood is well known for its unusual collection of sundials.

 

The approach to Packwood is one of the most welcoming we have ever come across, passing through wildflower meadows and impressive gateways.

    

Once we had passed through a few of these gateways and archways we discovered colourful well-designed borders full of herbaceous perennials and roses. Much of the planting had been chosen to attract wildlife, predators and pollinators.

    

The gardens were well structured, divided into garden rooms with different characters and atmospheres in each. In one formal lawn area we came across a rectangular sunk garden built from limestone and its borders were planted with plants that enjoyed the dry well drained soil. These plants provided a strong contrast to the lush look of the rest of the gardens.

       

Lush planting was prevalent elsewhere throughout the garden making for an atmosphere of excitement. There were wonderful individual plants to be found as well as well designed borders.

         

A well-known aspect of the gardens at Packwood is its topiary, especially a group called the twelve apostles. Personally I found this part of Packwood rather dull but here are the photos I took to illustrate it. However I do have a soft spot for cloud pruning of hedges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Garden Journal 2017 – November

The penultimate visit to my garden journal for 2017 is here – hope you enjoy it. I began by referring back to a development we started in the garden back in September which we finished off in November. We are very pleased with how it has turned out and look forward to seeing the new plants flourish.

“October continued with damaging winds and days with brown skies and orange sun as we received the effects f Hurricane Ophelia, downgraded to Storm Ophelia as it hit our shores. The last few weeks of October and the early days of November, saw us busy continuing develop our “Oil Tank Garden”.

 

“We screened the ugly tank with panels of beautiful diamond latticed panels and soon got on with the planting. Always the exciting bit!”

Over the page I continue to describe our development of this border and wrote “Behind the tank we have planted two trees, the Heptacodium mentioned in September and a stunning Sorbus called Joseph Rock with yellow berries in stark contrast to its deepest red autumn foliage.

 

“Hundreds of miniature daffodils were planted with crocus, Anemone blanda and other small bulbs.”

“A new solitary bee home was sited in the new garden. We gave it a miniature green roof!”

“We soon had a selection of climbers planted to clothe the trellis panels, Roses, Clematis, Honeysuckle and a Coronilla”.

   

“Behind the tank we planted for wildlife and hedgehogs in particular. We placed a nestbox for hedgehogs among dense planting of ferns and Euphorbias. We added stone piles, leaf piles and log piles.”

Turning over another page I featured some words by Dan Pearson and looked at some autumn flowering plants.

“Taking a look at Dan Pearson’s writings about Autumn in his “Natural Selections” book he wrote,

I want to invite the seasons into the garden, vividly and in layers. I use asters, autumn crocus and gentians at ground level, and shrubs that perform for this season to take the eye up and away, to straighten the back. I weave berrying trees and shrubs into the garden as much for their jewel-like fruit as for the birds which flock down to gorge when the fruit is ready for feasting upon.”

We aim to do exactly the same in our Avocet patch. Below are a few of our Asters which feature in our “Shrub Border”,  a border that brings Autumn in.”

  

“Another herbaceous perennial that features strongly in our November garden are the Salvias. We leave a few to over-winter in the garden but most will be brought into the cool greenhouse.”

       

Turning over again I take a look at succulents, plants rarely mentioned in the context of the autumn garden.

“When considering Autumn colour, succulents are rarely mentioned, but just check out the photos below of some of our succulents taken in November

   

Below are my paintings/drawings of two multi-coloured succulent stems which I created with water soluble pencil crayons.

“Taking succulent cuttings.”

 

“Final pots of succulents waiting to go into their winter home.”

 

The final page of my November entries in the Garden Journal celebrates my “Plant of the Month”, which is one of only two Irises native to the UK, Iris foetidissima.

  

The next visit to look at my Garden Journal in 2017 will be the last one for the year, December.

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Painting in a Meadow in Norfolk

Sometimes when you choose a holiday location and select accommodation you hit the right spot. When we spent a week in Norfolk in 2017 we did just this. We booked a barn conversion with its own little nature reserve in the middle of open farmland miles from any village or town.

Each morning as we got up we started the day by wandering around the meadow with a coffee mug in hand and camera over the shoulder. Each evening we repeated the exercise after our evening meal. Pure luxury! It brought back so many childhood memories for me.

The highlight was probably its wildflower meadow sat within the grounds. The meadow was full of such a wide variety of flowering plants and grasses, and hence full of wildlife, birds, bees, beetles, hoverflies, butterflies and moths. At night the birds were replaced by bats who hawked the surface of the meadow feeding on moths and night flying insects.

The meadow was a place of natural sights, sounds, movement and scent.

We ate outside as often as possible on a terrace overlooking a small lake surrounded by mature, native trees, Alder, Ash and Oak. These trees were favourite haunts of owls who entertained us with their calls as light faded each evening. We brought the sweetpeas back from Houghton Hall, where they grow in the walled garden and visitor are invited to use the scissors and string provided to pick and tie a bunch. The Lavender, a Dutch Lavender, in the pot we had bought from another garden we visited. It is now planted at home.

   

I decided it would be a challenge to paint the flowering meadow sat in the picnic bench in the very centre. So I set up my gear and had a go.

   

A beautiful calming time! The sounds of nature as a background makes painting so much easier, more flowing.

 

Here are my finished pieces.

And here it is framed and on daughter and son-in-law, Jo and Rob’s wall. The left hand pic shows it alongside my brother, Derrick’s pastel drawing of a magnolia.

 

 

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After the Rain

There is a special time just after rain has stopped. It is a moment of silence when Blackbirds and Robins are preparing to burst into excited song after a period when song is stilled by rain. Light has a special quality – it catches any droplet of moisture hanging from foliage or flower. Recently I managed to capture just such a moment with camera in hand and snapped away joyfully. I even shared the unique time with our garden when bird song descended over it engulfing its atmosphere.

You can share this time by following the gallery. click on the first pic, navigate with the arrows and simply enjoy.