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Returning from Cornwall – Part 1 – RHS Rosemore

We like to enjoy a few extra visits on our way back from any holiday we go on to extend our enjoyment, so we tend to book hotels partway back. On our way back from our Cornwall holiday we stopped off at a hotel in Devon so that we could visit RHS Garden Rosemore.

We try to visit all the RHS gardens every year if we can, so we know them well and tend to enjoy them at different times of the year. An early autumn visit to Rosemore was going to be a real treat. It is a garden of two halves, the newer section developed from scratch by the RHS and the older original garden donated to them.

The beauty of this garden is its overall design which can be discovered by exploring its series of differently themed rooms joined with walks across grass areas, through woodland and even under a road via a tunnel.

My photos show some of our favourite plant combinations.

      

Trees feature in several favourite plant communities which really appealed to us. They add strength, texture and structure to any border. We use trees in many of our borders at home in our Avocet patch.

  

Dahlias and roses were particularly colourful when we visited

    

Sometimes added interest can be achieved by including cameos and views, pieces of sculpture, arches, pergolas, garden buildings of all sorts or other features.

       

The involvement of ornamental grasses in garden borders can add so much if carefully matched to their partners. Light catches their seed heads, they wave about with just the slighest of winds and softness of their textures adds touch to the mix of border interest.

            

I shall finish with a set of three photos that illustrate the quality of planting and gardening work at RHS Rosemore, a truly great garden full of interest and ideas for us all to take home with us.

  

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Are you sitting comfortably? Part 9 of a very occasional series.

So here we are back in Devon to share more garden seats with you. In this collection of seats found and tested on our travels we will share with you those we discovered at the RHS garden at Rosemoor.

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When at Rosemoor this February we were delighted that our day coincided with an exhibition of outdoor sculpture. At times it was hard to tell if a garden seat was a piece of sculpture or if a piece of sculpture was a seat.

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This seat with its carved ends all made from wood from the same tree was a great place for its two owls to settle. It lived beneath an iron framed arch which would be clothed in climbing plants a few months hence. Close up the carved creatures were so full of character.

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We were both amused and amazed when we spotted this comfy looking armchair from a across a wide garden border. Closer to we realised it had been created from handmade bricks, joined together by silicone.

The wooden seat in the photo alongside the armchair was home to a Buddah carved from a single piece of wood joined to a bench of the same species of tree. It gave out a deep feeling of piece.

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Sometimes a seat can be a perch for a photographer. In this case our friend Pip was getting close to a spout of water pouring from the stone wall. Look closely at the picture alongside and you will see that a scarecrow is sitting comfortably with his picnic by his side and his crop of pumpkins piled close by.

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Often garden seats have protection around them to protect the resting gardeners or visitors from the wind and rain. In the photos below wooden posts provide the protection.

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Sometimes the simplest designs work best. These two seats are beautifully designed and crafted and are so simple in their design and construction.

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Other seats sit beautifully within their surrounds looking comfortable and full of belonging.

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Seats can be works of art in themselves and then they really do become pieces of sculpture.

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This is a very ordinary garden bench which is very common in our gardens, but the placement of an old green lawn roller gives it character and invites visitors to sit down and enjoy the beauty of this garden artifact.

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The best of seats on wet days are those under cover, in this case the seat is enveloped beneath a thatched cottage-style arbour overlooking the herb garden. Here you can appreciate the sights and scents in front of you.

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Seats can be made special because they have special purposes, to tell stories from or to enjoy a good swing on.

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Where Part 10 of this very occasional series will send us we must wait and see!

 

 

 

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Garden Entrances and Archways – No 2 in a very occasional series.

Here we are with another selection of interesting and unusual entrances and archways that we have discovered while exploring gardens.

In this collection of entrances and archways we concentrate on those we found on a February visit to some gardens of Devon. Arches, inviting pathways, pergolas, gaps in hedges and walls, bridges and even an underpass all entice us onward or present us with choices as we explored these Devon gardens.

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A Garden in Winter – RHS Rosemoor – Part 2

We continued our tour of the RHS Rosemoor Garden as we passed under the underpass which led us to the original gardens now called Lady Anne’s Garden. As we left the tunnel and regained daylight, albeit rather dull, we heard the sound of water falling. A narrow ribbon of white water was falling down a huge rock face created from large stones. A white stemmed birch close to it matched it perfectly. Bamboos enjoyed the damp atmosphere here and appeared very much at home.

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The damp atmosphere also meant that any trees growing here were home to algae and mosses giving their trunks and stems unusual textures and colours.

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As we followed gravel paths towards Lady Anne’s house we were interested to see many areas of new planting, with young plants growing in much improved soil.

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Within these new areas of planting we were attracted to a small shrub with tiny delicate flowers. We didn’t recognise it but we were lucky as it had a label to help us. It was a Correa “Ivory Bells”. We grow a Correa at our garden in Shropshire but we never get them to flower. After seeing these little beauties we certainly wished we could!

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The path we were following took us slowly uphill where we followed a path half way up the slope on the edge of a the garden within the woodland. The damp atmosphere here with its dappled shade gave a home to some special plants. This rich blue flowered Primula was so delicate that its stems looked too fragile to hold up the flowers. We didn’t recognise it but once again there was a label to come to our rescue – it informed us that its name was Primula “John Fielding”.

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The habitat here encouraged mosses and ferns to grow profusely. Some plants even manage to get a foothold on a flight of stone steps.

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Perewinkles or Vincas are very common plants and often too invasive for smaller gardens, but this one attracted us and encouraged us to take a closer look at its delicate white flowers.

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Small flowering bulbs brughtened up the dull semi-shade along the woodland edge.

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We found another plant that presented another mystery. We recognised the beautiful mahogany coloured buds of this Salix so looked close up and studied its label when we discovered it to be Salix fargessii. A few steps further another young shrub looked very similar but close up we noticed subtle differences. This we discovered, once again by reading the label, was Salix moupinensis, a willow we had never heard of. We must now do some research to see which is most worthwhile to add to our garden. A good gardener never stops learning!

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I shall finish with a lovely winter shrub, Sarcoccoca which displays its black berries and its white flowers at the same time and in addition it has a rich deep scent.

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So RHS Rosemoor Garden in winter proved itself to be as good as at any other season, the sign of a very good garden. We discovered new plants and enjoyed the scents and sights of so many good plantings. The Winter Garden and the Foliage Garden were the stars of the show just as we expected. As I often say after visiting a garden, we will be back!

 

 

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A Garden in Winter – RHS Rosemoor – Part 1

We love to break up the winter months with mid-week breaks away around the UK. In February this year we took off down to Devon for a short holiday where we planned to visit a garden which holds two National Collections, Betulas (Birches) and Alnus (Alders) and the Royal Horticultural Society’s Rosemoor Garden.

My previous couple of posts shared with you our wanderings around Stone Lane Garden and Nursery with its wonderful national collection of Betulas and Alnus. In this post we will share with you the two days we spent exploring the Royal Horticultural Society’ Rosemoor Garden.

We had visited many times before but never in winter before, so we were keen to see if the RHS’s claim that Rosemoor provides “Great days out for every season” and  “Rosemoor continues to enchant visitors when the Winter and Foliage Gardens are filled with a surprisingly intoxicating combination of colour, fragrance and texture.”

After a quick coffee in the restaurant we braved the rain and began our walk around.

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We made our way towards the Winter Garden which we knew had been redeveloped since we last visited so we longed to see what it looked and felt like now.

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As expected foliage took a leading role.

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Coloured stems and bark of shrubs and trees add strong structure to a good winter garden.

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After enjoying and being highly impressed with the renovated Winter Garden, we took a gravel path which led us to the Foliage Garden. We were looking forward to seeing the role that foliage could play in the February garden. We were not to be disappointed with what we saw. Perennials and grasses played key roles with the richness of texture and the delicacy of colour. Richly coloured foliage on many shrubs joined the party.

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Wherever we went we noticed evidence of the RHS gardeners and the volunteers who worked alongside them. In the Rose Garden these roses had been pruned so precisely just like illustrations in a gardening book . The soil between them had been neatly forked over to give a very professional look to the gardeners’ work.

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When we returned to the restaurant for a warming coffee we noticed in the terrace outside a little wooden framed alpine greenhouse. Here we found an impressive array of flowering bulbs.

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Leaving the alpine house we took meandering paths through the gardens where we noticed many early blooms that added cheer to a day of dull damp weather.

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These paths took us down a gentle slope towards the lake and along the way we passed through open grassed areas where Daffodils and Narcissi had been naturalised. In neighbouring borders swathes of Snowdrops looked like frozen rivers running through shrubs and trees.

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We reached the lake which looked very cold and uninviting but on its banks Cornus and Salix varieties known for their coloured stems added ribbons of very welcome brightness.

A stream fed the lake and we left the lakeside by following a path rising gently through the stream’s valley.

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This valley with its clear stream ran rapidly through areas of planting. We followed the stream along a gravel path which took us to an underpass through which we wandered to find the original garden at Rosemoor, Lady Anne’s Garden. The little valley dropped down towards the underpass and we saw King Cups flowering profusely providing splashes of golden yellow and clumps of Arum italicum marmoratum gave us splashes of silver in their variegated foliage.

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Seed heads and fruit from the autumn were still very much in evidence extending the season of interest.

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As the valley sides rose higher the atmosphere became damper and we felt the temperature drop slightly as we got closer to the underpass. Lichen grew on trees and on fences. The white bark of Birches and the snow white blooms of Snowdrops shone through in the duller light.

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We were drawn to a Betula with unusually coloured bark and were very pleased to find that it was called Betula albosinsensis “K Ashburner”, named after the owner of Stone Lane Gardens and Nursery.

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Scent was held in the valley so we were constantly experiencing the rich aromas of Lonicera, Sarcoccoca and Ribes. Sweetness in the air!

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We entered the underpass which would take us under the road we drove along hours before and gained access to the original garden here at Rosemoor, Lady Anne’s Garden. We will be in that part of the garden in Part 2.

 

 

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Sculpture at RHS Rosemoor Garden

We love seeing sculpture outdoors whether in wild landscapes such as the “Sheep Enclosures” by Andy Goldsworthy, on the shore such as Anthony Gormley’s “Another Place” or in gardens. When we visited the RHS gardens at Rosemoor in Devon we spent two days exploring the gardens as there was the added interest of an exhibition of sculpture. This first of three posts from Rosemoor will concern those sculptural pieces.

I hope you enjoy my photos of a selection of those I particularly liked.

Birds of all sorts always make good subjects for sculptures both meant for indoors or out but I think they look best in the garden setting.

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Naturally plants work well as subjects for garden works of art too, in fact maybe the most natural subject of all.

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The beauty of simple pot shapes appear enhanced by the beauty of the garden.

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Sometimes the simplest of forms in sculptural form can bring the structure of plants and parts of plants to mind. Mother Nature herself often creates her own simple sculptural forms.

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An element of fun in any garden is sculptural seating. Those that work as somewhere to rest your weary legs are even more welcome in a garden of several acres.

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This most appealing of benches attracted everyone who spotted it – it demanded a closer look. When we looked at it close up we found that its two ends were both owls, one seated and one coming in to land.

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The human form has throughout history provided inspiration to sculpture.

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This beautiful trio of figures created from metal, entitled “The Three Graces”, stood within a circle of box hedging surrounding box spheres.

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To complete my selection of sculptural pieces here are three pieces displaying simplicity and beauty. This wonderful collection made our wanderings around the gardens at Rosemoor even more worthwhile.

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A Devon Garden with Betulas – Part 3

Welcome back to Stone Lane Garden in Devon for part three of the report of our visit.

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We continued our meanderings along the grass, wood chip and gravel paths through the woodlands that are home to the incredible National Collections of both Betulas and Alnus.

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Ken Ashburner owner and gardener at Stone Lane collects seeds and plants on his plant hunting travels, so when he plants a grove of a variety there are lots of interesting variations to enjoy.

Betula albosinsensis varies widely with its shades of white or silver with added tints of oranges and pinks.

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The selection of Betula albosinensis given the name “China Rose” is a particular beauty. The white sign in the photos tells visitors that this particular Betula is available in the nursery which is part of the garden. A great idea!

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A sudden and very short-lived patch of blue sky passed over the towering old native Birches emphasising their beautiful skeletal winter forms.

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Gardens are great places to site sculpture and it was good to see plenty as we followed the narrow path through the woodlands that led us back to the  garden’s gate.

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These tall thin pale stems of a herbaceous plant appeared as a delicate piece of sculpture and where they fell they created a drawing on the woodland floor.

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We crossed the narrow stream by a narrow wooden bridge made slippery by mosses and algae. From the bridge we looked down into the little stream’s bank side and noticed King Cups already in full flower, looking like golden coins shining against their deep glossy green foliage.

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The dampness and shade of the woodland makes it a place favoured by lichen, fungi and mosses.

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We came across an Alder that had been felled and were drawn to the brightly coloured surfaces exposed by the saw.

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As we spotted the gate which would end our exciting visit we were drawn to bright orange blooms on a shrub in the distance. Once we got closer we knew it had to be a Berberis and we were right. It looked luminous in the dull afternoon light. A delicate pale pink Geranium close by was much harder to find.

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We had spent a really interesting day at Stone Lane Garden that was full of the delights of our favourite trees the Betulas. We left determined to find space for a few more at home. The following two days we planned to spend at the amazing RHS Rosemoor Garden. See you there!