First set of seats in this installment about garden seating features those we found while on holiday near Pembroke followed by more we discovered at Bodnant Garden in north Wales. Then a set we found at Wildegoose Nursery and Garden and finally some we found at our friends, Nathalie and Tony’s Oswestry garden and Ruth and Mike’s village garden in North Shropshire.
Every year in February we follow our usual walk around the grounds of Attingham Park, a National Trust property just a half hour drive away. What makes this February walk different is the thousands of snowdrops growing happily beneath beautiful mature trees.
Another unusual aspect of our walk was the amount of standing water around, including flooding from the river that runs through the parkland.
An extra feature this year was a display put on by the local WI (Women’s Institute) all knitting and different forms of fabric craft. The pieces were displayed on the trees and on lengths of woolen yarn strung between trees and were created to highlight the plight of our planet, caused by climate change issues.
We particularly liked our first sighting of the signs of spring!
Back with another set of garden seats for you to enjoy. Imagine yourself taking a seat for a rest, to take in the view and appreciate the comfort of the seats themselves.
Firstly let me share a few seats from the gardens at Ivy Croft in Herefordshire, a garden open for its huge snowdrop collection and interesting winter plants.
We recently visited John’s Garden attached to Ashwood Nursery in the West Midlands, and being in February seats became very obvious features. They varied so much in style!
Next I want to share with you seats from the gardens at Erddig, a Welsh National Trust property.
So that is it for this collection of garden seats. More to follow in the future!
Following on from our seasonal autumn visit to our smaller garden for 2019 we took a drive up to north Wales to wander around our larger garden, Bodnant Gardens. Join us as we enjoy the signs of the new season on its trees and shrubs.
Within the first ten minutes wandering we had discovered so many interesting plants and plant combinations. We were slowly making for the Winter Garden, one of our favourite parts of the garden. A first for us was a wall trained Gingko biloba which was really striking, as were the glossy indigo berries on this Dianella.
Of course The Winter Garden excels in its season but puts on a pretty good show in the autumn too.
From The Winter Garden we wandered through the open woodland towards the Acer Glade. All along the way trees were warming up the day with their hot coloured foliage and with some the added splash of colour provided by berries. I hope you enjoy my short gallery of photos below.
The woodland paths of gravel and sometimes grass led us to the predominately orange and red Acer Grove, which was busy with photographers and grandparents escorting their grandchildren picking up selections of their favourite leaves, natural jewels of the glade floor.
We left the Acer Grove and made towards the stream which we crossed by a wooden bridge and went upwards into the wooded slope of the dingle, so that we could wander along the many paths and look down into the dingle itself. We found more acers and other colourful deciduous shrubs below the giant conifers. Follow our journal be enjoying this gallery.
And so our day of wandering around the wonderful gardens at Bodnant came to an end, but as usual as we walked towards the gate we had a look at the Hot Garden alongside the stone wall. There is always something worth a second glance here whatever month we visit.
Perhaps one more visit to our other garden Wildegoose to go and if tempted another to Bodnant before the year is out!
Here we are back with a collection of photos of garden seats that inspire me to record them and share them. Enjoy!
The first batch are from the National Trust garden at Biddulph Grange.
So I don’t know when my next post in this series will appear – it will simply when I have found enough garden seats to create a little gallery.
Instead of my usual series of posts where we visit the same garden every month of the year, we have decided to look at two gardens one large and one small. This is because it is impossible to find another good garden that is open all year and easy to get to.
For the big garden we have chosen the National Trust’s Bodnant Garden in North Wales which we shall look at over the seasons and for the small garden we have chosen Wildgoose Garden and Nursery closer to home here in Shropshire which we shall visit each month during its open season.
To start this series I am going to look back at a visit we made to Bodnant back in May 2018 to give an idea of its beauty.
A final day out on our Anglesey holiday was to visit the gardens at Bodnant just slightly inland from the North Wales coast. It is a garden we have visited and enjoyed many times before and at all times of the year. The one strength of the garden is that is has so many different faces to be discovered and enjoyed.
In recent years a rectangular border alongside a tall stone wall has changed completely becoming a hot border, full of flowers and foliage the colours of fire. On a sunny day they really light up.
Directly opposite and in complete contrast is a formal area of low trimmed hedges holding together borders of tulips.
The Winter Garden at Bodnant is one of the best in the UK, and although superb in its special season, the winter, it is still an interesting garden in the summer.
The narrow gravel paths take us into the shady areas beneath mature deciduous trees. Bluebells added a blue mist to the rich green grassed areas.
What many visits make the journey to Bodnant for are the bright clashing colours of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias. We however are not great fans of these acid loving bloomers, but here are a few shots for those who do.
An area of Bodnant gardens we have rarely reached over the years because of my mobility problems is the deep steep-sided valley with tall trees towering over a beautiful sparkling stream which meanders along its length. After recent surgery I can now manage to get down to this magical dingle. The magical atmosphere is created by the huge trees that tower above visitors who wander the gravel paths along the valley running close to a clear mountain stream, and on the banks beautiful bog and water loving plants grow happily. Primulas, hostas, ferns and Skunk Cabbage add colour and texture to the scene.
No doubt it won’t be long before this great garden is featured in another of my greenbenchramblings posts as we usually wander around its Winter Garden early in the year.
On our return journey from Stratford afforded us the opportunity to return to explore the gardens of the National Tust property, Coughton Court, a garden we had not visited for many years, so we looked forward to seeing how our memories of the place matched up with the reality.
Coughton Court is the family home of the Throckmorton family, who continue to maintain and develop the garden and grounds as well as the house itself.
In particular, we remember the walled rose garden which is often quoted as being one of the most romantic gardens in the UK which is of course the land of romantic gardens. We could both remember this area which was full of scented roses, many old-fashioned varieties, and its beautiful statue of a female figure. I can even remember the beautifully soft subtle planting around its base of Sedum sectabile and Stip tenuissima. I hoped that planting still remained.
The introductory set of eight photos below illustrate the variety of points of interest at Coughton. They show the beauty of the buildings themselves, the rose garden, bog garden, orchards, woodland, riverside walk etc
The Throckmorton family rose garden was developed in 1966 and was designed by a Chelsea RHS Show award-winning garden designer, Christina Williams. What makes ir si special and different to traditional rose gardens is the way the roses are heavily underplanted with herbaceous perennials. The statue is of Fair Rosamund, a beauty of the 12th century and reputedly the mistress of King Henry II. The popular ancient rose, Rosa mundi was named after her and specimens are planted around the statue. The gentle planting of my memories has sadly been superseded.
There was so much to enjoy in this rose garden that it is best to look at following a gallery of photos that I took within its bounds. Click on the first photo and then navigate with the arrows.
Moving on from the rose garden and its rich sites and aromas, we found our way into a much more open space which presented a pleasant contrast to the business of the rose garden. Here a rectangular lawn was edged with herbaceous borders, planted with Gertrude Jekyl style gentle end of the spectrum plant choices. We enjoyed a slow amble among each side, appreciating the individual plants, plant combinations and the bigger picture of looking right along the length of each border.
It is always good to visit a garden with many different aspects and the gardens at Coughton Court manages to certainly provide lots of different styles of garden to enjoy. Here are few shots showing different aspects I haven’t the space to share. Enjoy!
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.
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.
We made our monthly visit to Attingham Park, our last one for 2017, just as Christmas was making itself known at this National Trust property. Before we even reached the coffee shop for our usual warm drink to get us fueled up for our walk, we had been met by a snowman, a Christmas tree and we were entertained to some 1940’s music and dancing. The hall was decorated in a 1940’s style so the dancing set the scene.
The trees were decorated with wartime decorations, based on the idea of “make and make do”, as were the decorations in the coffee shop, where paper chains were made from newspaper. The trees were themed with one based on children’s games from the 1940’s and another was book based.
We came across a few other Snowmen, as we followed the one-mile trail, to amuse us on this chilly day. I managed to get around this month without my wheelchair as my recovery from leg surgery is coming along nicely. I walked the mile using a crutch which was very pleasing and rewarding!
Wandering through the woodland areas beneath tall mature trees, we noticed that a few browned leaves were managing to hang on to the branches but the majority were bare skeletons. These frameworks of trunks, branches and twigs were magnificent with no green leaves to hide their structure.
New buds were already waiting patiently on some branches anticipating spring far off on the horizon, while on other neighbouring trees a few dried leaves hung on. One patch of trees still showed some green in its canopy. A few old seed pods hung on having defied the storms, rains and gales of autumn, seed heads of trees, shrubs and perennial plants.
We wandered around the walled garden now virtually clear of crops, leaving hazel pole structures bare of the bean plants that once adorned them. The volunteer staff here are adept at creating beautiful and original plant structures.
A green flowered cauliflower had recently been attacked by frost, so had browned a little. Celeriac though recently cropped awaited storage.
The gardeners’ bothy was simply decorated but full of atmosphere, added to by the gardeners and volunteers enjoying their break so the aroma of freshly brewed coffee mingled with the smell of wood smoke.
Whatever time of year you explore the countryside, parkland or even more so a garden, there are always surprises awaiting. An out of season flower, a bud bursting at an inappropriate time or sadly at times the sudden death of a favourite plant. Two surprises were awaiting us at Attingham this December. First were lemon yellow catkins hanging fresh and healthily from hazel shrubs. These are usually key features of the month of February. In December they provided a beautiful diversion for me and my camera lens!
The second surprise was a Rhododendron shrub in flower!
Now that we have explored the parkland at Attingham Park every month during 2017, we need to decide where our monthly visit will be next year. We need somewhere open all year and of interest every month too. We shall let you know in the new year! I hope you have enjoyed visiting Attingham with us each month during 2017.