colours fruit and veg garden design garden photography gardening gardens gardens open to the public hardy perennials kitchen gardens National Trust roses Shrewsbury Shropshire The National Trust walled gardens walled kitchen gardens

A Walk in the Park August- Attingham Park – Part 2

As promised, I now return to Attingham Park to look at the creative feature and the walled garden. I shall start with the “creative feature” we found and which fascinated us. In the children’s play field which adjoins the orchard we spotted a colourful feature at a distance which demanded a closer look.


Tall willow wands were attached to a wooden fence and they were decorated with coloured wall. Children had written their thoughts about Attingham Park on card labels and tied them to the uprights. We enjoyed reading them greatly.


We wandered through the orchard towards the Walled Garden and first off had a look around the bothy.


The vegetable and fruit crops were looking very fresh and healthy and the staff and volunteers were busy weeding and thinning out the rows of crops.


The most colourful crop of all though was the cut flower section where row upon row of flowers grown to display in the hall or for sale to visitors added stripes of colour to the walled garden.


Wandering through the gateway in the brick wall separating the two sections of the walled garden colour was everywhere we looked whatever direction we glanced in.


So the next visit we will be making for a wander around Attingham Park will be in October when Autumn will be making an appearance.


autumn colours colours fruit and veg garden design garden photography gardening gardens grasses half-hardy perennials hardy perennials light quality ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs Shropshire South Shropshire Yellow Book Gardens

Aiming for a year round garden – our garden in September

We hosted the final visit by a garden group to our garden for the year at the beginning of this month. We were pleased that there was still plenty of interest for our friends from the South Shropshire Mini-group of the Hardy Plant Society.

As usual we shall start this month’s wander in the front garden. In the gateway our pink pelargoniums continue to flower below our house nameplate on our gatepost.

2014 09 09_4865

The “Chatto Garden” is beautiful every day of every year and today is no exception. The red leaf blades of the grass, Imperata cylindrica “Red Baron”,  seem more colourful in the late summer sun. Nearby the dying flowers of the Agapanthus “Black Panther” still glow blue against the biscuit colours of the grasses.

2014 09 09_4854 2014 09 09_4853

2014 09 09_4862 2014 09 09_4863

The first of our many Michaelmas Daisies are now flowering and close by our latest small tree, a wonderful Acer pectinatum, with red stems and leaf petioles has settled well.

2014 09 09_4864 2014 09 09_4861

The other front garden borders still have plenty of interest to look at.

2014 09 09_4852 2014 09 09_4850

2014 09 09_4851 2014 09 09_4855

2014 09 09_4857 2014 09 09_4856

2014 09 09_4860 2014 09 09_4866

By our front door the shrub, Buddleja lindleyana continues to flower on after many months. Also in our Freda Garden the strange yellow flowers of Kirengeshoma palmata are on the verge of opening into its bell shaped blooms. These two unusual flowers grow side by side and look beautiful together with their complimentary yellow and blue.

2014 09 09_4868 2014 09 09_4867

In the back garden the Shed Border is still punctuated by the yellow spires of the Verbascum which look even brighter with the red hybrid tea rose blooming alongside. Even more colourful is the Tropical Garden with this star shaped Dahlia starring with Ricinus. The bee arrived at the very centre of this Dahlia just as I pressed the shutter button.

2014 09 09_4840 2014 09 09_4841 2014 09 09_48432014 09 09_4842  2014 09 09_4844

Next to the hot colours of the Tropical Garden the pastel shades of our Sweet Peas that clamber up the wall trellis cool things down a little.

In the Rill Garden the red-flowered Clematis flowers of Hagley Hybrid clamber around behind the succulent reddish-black leaved Aeonium affording a fiery combination.

2014 09 09_4846

In the seaside garden the airy Cosmos plants still flower profusely in whites and pale pinks.

2014 09 09_4847 2014 09 09_4848

The little Pollinators Bed on either side of the Insect Hotel still displays a few flowers such as the white Lychnis coronaria and the last few petals hang onto the Leonotis which now shows its cylindrical seed heads. Close by our grapes are colouring up promising tasty, juicy fresh fruits soon. Another brown seed head  of the Eryngium “Miss Wilmott’s Ghost” is now full of black seeds ripe and ready to drop to the soil to produce next year’s plants.

2014 09 09_4871 2014 09 09_4870

2014 09 09_4872 2014 09 09_4873

The Secret Garden always provides plenty of colour interest and variety of texture. Geranium Rosanne seems to be perpetually in flower and it looks particularly good with grasses. Our Aesculus x mutabilis “Induta” has a few seeds forming and as they ripen little shining brown “conkers” show in the cracking cases.

2014 09 09_4876 2014 09 09_4877 2014 09 09_4878 2014 09 09_4879

In the Spring Garden Rosanne stars again and the final few flowers of Cosmos polidor look golden against the silver of the Betula’s silver trunk. Close by in the Chicken Garden apples await harvesting and Miscanthus grasses colour up attractively.


2014 09 09_4880 2014 09 09_4881 2014 09 09_4882 2014 09 09_4883

I shall finish with two special plants, an Acer turning buttercup yellow and Persicaria amplexicaule rosea.


2014 09 09_4884 2014 09 09_4885

After finishing this post the garden seemed to change as autumn approached, so I decided to take a few photos right at the end of the month to illustrate how the garden changes with time, sometimes a short time. So look out for a colourful gallery in Part Two.

colours flowering bulbs fruit and veg garden buildings garden design garden photography garden ponds garden pools gardening gardens grow your own irises light light quality ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs Shropshire shrubs succulents water garden water in the garden

Aiming for a year round garden – early summer.

Number four in this series of posts concerning our aim at ensuring that our garden all year round sees me and my trusty Nikon wandering the paths of our garden in the last week of May. so come with me and see what you think. Are we still on track?

As usual we shall begin our wanderings in the front where right by the front door we find our personalised trug and our climbers growing in the old galvanised container. Opposite the front door the Freda Border is looking full of interest.

2014 05 27_9661 2014 05 27_9662

2014 05 27_9660

Round the front of the house the Chatto Garden seems full of chartreuse highlighted with brightly coloured Irises.

2014 05 27_9663 2014 05 27_9664 2014 05 27_9665 2014 05 27_9666 2014 05 27_9667 2014 05 27_9669 2014 05 27_9670 2014 05 27_9671 2014 05 27_9672

Our mixed borders are full of many different textures, shapes and colours provided by the herbaceous plants and the shrubs.

2014 05 27_9673 2014 05 27_9674

As we move into the back we find our lush colourful planting in the Secret Garden and the Chicken Bed. On a sunny day you need sunglasses to appreciate these areas.

2014 05 22_9497 2014 05 22_9503 2014 05 22_9504 2014 05 22_9505 2014 05 22_9506 2014 05 22_9507 2014 05 22_9508 2014 05 22_9509 2014 05 22_9535

Down by the pool the Japanese Garden is dominated by the Acers but in the Bog Garden the big leaves of the Rheum and Hostas pick up any shaft of sunlight.

2014 05 22_9510  2014 05 22_95122014 05 22_9517 2014 05 22_9514

How about this for a self-seeder, an Anthirinum in the deepest pink possible with tiny splashes of yellow and orange growing alongside a red leaved Acer.

2014 05 22_9520

Looking from the Summerhouse the garden looks full of, so is now a lovely place to sit with a coffee and enjoy our hard work.

2014 05 22_9518 2014 05 22_9519

2014 05 22_9515 2014 05 22_9516     2014 05 22_9521 2014 05 22_9522 2014 05 22_9513 2014 05 22_9511

Moving back towards the greenhouse we can take a look at the Crescent Bed and around the Rill Garden. Just look at this little flower hovering above the leaves of the Aeonium.

2014 05 22_9524 2014 05 22_9526 2014 05 22_9527 2014 05 22_9523 2014 05 22_9525

From the Rill Garden we can see the Seaside Garden which we recently revamped.

2014 05 22_9528 2014 05 22_9530

We often miss out the mini-gardens on our wandering blog posts so we shall have a look now at the Fern Border, Shed Slate Garden, the Salad Beds and the Slate Scree Garden.

2014 05 22_9529  2014 05 22_9532 2014 05 22_9533  2014 05 22_9536

So there we have it, our garden in early Summer. We hope it is still looking good. The next post in this series will be in mid-Summer when we shall be fast approaching our first ever opening under the National Garden Scheme. Seeing our own garden in the famous Yellow Book certainly makes you look closely at our garden.

colours flowering bulbs fruit and veg garden design garden photography gardening gardens grow your own hardy perennials Hardy Plant Society herbs kitchen gardens light light quality ornamental trees and shrubs shrubs spring bulbs spring gardening Staffordshire trees village gardens woodland

Pauline and Derek’s Woodland Garden

This is the third post in my series of post about gardens of friends. In this post I shall share with you a visit Jude “The Undergardener” and I made with a couple of other Hardy Plant Society friends to the woodland garden of fellow members, Pauline and Derek. It was a wet, dull day when we set out but as we approached the village of Loggerheads things were looking a little more optimistic. Just outside the village we found “Broomside” where Derek greeted us as we got out of the car. Quickly passing through the front garden to get out of the rain gave us clues as to what to expect. We couldn’t wait to see more!

2014 05 08_8962

Pauline had prepared the coffee and tempting biscuits so that took priority. When we were ready for a guided wander the weather turned back to heavy rain so we donned rainwear and carried on regardless. We are after all “Hardy Planters” so mustn’t be put off by the weather, whatever it throws at us.

These general garden views show the richness of its planting and give a hint of the inviting atmosphere.

2014 05 08_8937 2014 05 08_8933

2014 05 08_8935 2014 05 08_8938

Despite the rain the light was good for photographing foliage plants. With contrast reduced textures were highlighted. Woodlaand plants seem to possess a richness in texture and colour in their foliage.

2014 05 08_8919 2014 05 08_8920 2014 05 08_8921 2014 05 08_8923

2014 05 08_8936 2014 05 08_8949

2014 05 08_8924 2014 05 08_8925

The late spring blossom on the trees and shrubs and the flowers on perennials were still a delight and somehow even more welcome on such a dull day.

2014 05 08_8926 2014 05 08_8927 2014 05 08_8928   2014 05 08_8931

This garden is full of special plants but these three stood out even among such quality planting. Purple cones, purple Trillium flowers and a creamy Paeony.


2014 05 08_8930 2014 05 08_8932

2014 05 08_8934

After enjoying the woodland section of the garden we stepped up a few steps, one of which was the root of a tree, to find the veggie patch.

2014 05 08_8939 2014 05 08_8940 2014 05 08_8941 2014 05 08_8942 2014 05 08_8943 2014 05 08_8944

Derek had an impressive collection of mints. We enjoyed their varied scents. This one, with its long slightly glaucous leaves was I think was Mentha buddleifolia, one I had never seen before. Indeed I wasn’t aware of its existence.

2014 05 08_8945

After exploring the paths winding through the vegetable garden we found a colourful mixed border along the side of the house. Here colourful Euphorbias added extra brightness to more rich planting.

2014 05 08_8954  2014 05 08_8961 2014 05 08_8959 2014 05 08_8953 2014 05 08_8955 2014 05 08_8956 2014 05 08_8957 2014 05 08_8952 2014 05 08_8951  2014 05 08_8948

Pauline has discovered a novel, attractive and effective way of labeling her plants. She writes their names on pebbles which are then placed at their base. She also advised us on the best pen to use and gifted one to us. We shall certainly be trying it out!

2014 05 08_8947 2014 05 08_8929

We had a most enjoyable day even better for having defied the elements. It is good to share the gardens of friends and even better when you do so with other friends. Hardy Plant Society members are often a knowledgeable breed  so we can always learn something from them and discover plants new to us. Pauline and Derek’s garden with its woodland atmosphere afforded us a refreshing change after working hard for a few days in our own South facing exposed garden.

fruit and veg garden design garden photography garden wildlife gardening gardens gardens open to the public grasses hardy perennials natural pest control ornamental trees and shrubs

Dorothy’s Delights – The Dorothy Clive Garden

Whenever we have friends and family staying with us we take them to our favourite places, usually gardens, arboreta or special patches of countryside and of course to our favourite coffee shop with the biggest most luscious cakes. If it is late summer or early autumn then we often share with them the delights of the Dorothy Clive Garden. So in September we took my brother, Graham and sister-in-law Vicky to share in the box of delights.

The garden began as a woodland garden set in a deep dell, but as the years went on it spread outwards so now much of the garden is on a gentle slope down from the dell. The dell features huge mature trees and below them plants typical of shaded places rhododendrons, azaleas and ferns.

2013 09 25_3606 2013 09 25_3605

2013 09 25_3583 2013 09 25_3582

2013 09 25_3610 2013 09 25_3612

2013 09 25_3613 2013 09 25_3614

After half an hour in the tea shop our first port of call was the sheltered area close by, sheltered enough to allow the gardeners to take brave decisions and grow Tetrapanax, amongst other plants grown for their interesting foliage. The gardeners at this garden are masters at the art of “right plant right place”. The enclosed space here was so sheltered that tender plants thrived, including one of my favourite plants Tetrapanax. We can’t risk it in our garden with its cold wet winters. I love the texture and colour of the stems – softly furry and gingery orange – and the shape and texture of the huge palmate rough leaves.

2013 09 25_3584 2013 09 25_3585 2013 09 25_3586 2013 09 25_3587 2013 09 25_3588 2013 09 25_3589

2013 09 25_3594 2013 09 25_3595

Another of the big leaved plants growing here in the damper areas are the Rogersias, with several different varieties thriving in the shade.

2013 09 25_3590 2013 09 25_3591 2013 09 25_3592 2013 09 25_3593

We left the sheltered garden taking a path beneath a tunnel featuring some delicate sculpture and neatly trimmed box balls.

2013 09 25_3596 2013 09 25_3597

2013 09 25_3598

As we left the covered walkway we discovered another large-leaved architectural plant, the Onopordum, with silvery jagged leaves and stems with spikes all along their edges adorned atop by similarly spiky flowers. The Goldfinches will love them when they burst!

2013 09 25_3599 2013 09 25_3600

A new feature in this old favourite garden was an edible woodland garden. We were excited about seeing it and our anticipation was rewarded. This little shaded area under mature trees was full of atmosphere and interesting features.

We were impressed by the great insect hotels and the amazing wooden fencing found within the plants of the edible garden.

2013 09 25_3579

2013 09 25_3567 2013 09 25_3573

2013 09 25_3575 2013 09 25_3576

2013 09 25_3574 2013 09 25_3577 2013 09 25_3580

2013 09 25_3568 2013 09 25_3569 2013 09 25_3570 2013 09 25_3571 2013 09 25_3572      2013 09 25_3578  2013 09 25_3581

2013 09 25_3608 2013 09 25_3609

After this we wandered off along the meandering soft grass paths around the mixed borders. Enjoy them with us.

2013 09 25_3615 2013 09 25_3616 2013 09 25_3617 2013 09 25_3618 2013 09 25_3619 2013 09 25_3620 2013 09 25_3622 2013 09 25_3623 2013 09 25_3624 2013 09 25_3625 2013 09 25_3627 2013 09 25_3628 2013 09 25_3629

2013 09 25_3630 2013 09 25_3631 2013 09 25_3632 2013 09 25_3633 2013 09 25_3634 2013 09 25_3635 2013 09 25_3636 2013 09 25_3637 2013 09 25_3639

Part of the way round our border wanderings I spotted these lovely old chestnut gates and fences at the entrance to the kitchen garden.

2013 09 25_3640 2013 09 25_3641 2013 09 25_3642 2013 09 25_3643 2013 09 25_3644

2013 09 25_3646 2013 09 25_3647 2013 09 25_3648 2013 09 25_3650 2013 09 25_3651 2013 09 25_3652 2013 09 25_3653

allotments autumn community gardening conservation fruit and veg garden wildlife gardening grow your own hedgerows natural pest control spring bulbs trees wildlife

The Big Planting – a new hedge and more bulbs for the allotments.

In mid-November we held another working party on our allotment site, Bowbrook Allotment Community. This will be the last one this year and our aim was to plant a new hedge along the bare green fence that serves as the boundary to our site extension. We hoped also to plant the thousands of bulbs donated by our members. The green security fencing looks so bare at the moment so we can’t wait for our new hedge to hide it.

2013 11 10_5030

Recently we have been trying to involve whole families in our working parties and we hoped some youngsters would turn up to our hedge planting day as it was a rare opportunity for them. These days few children get the chance to plant a native tree.

We were awarded a pack of 460 native trees to plant by the Woodland Trust and had been given others by members and locals so we had well over 500 to plant. They were seedlings of hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel, rowan, birch, oak and all about 18 inches tall. We had guelder rose, dogwood and dogroses to add from elsewhere on the site. The Woodland Trust were able to give many sites like ours packs of trees because of the generosity of Biffa, Ikea and Nicky’s.

The trees, canes and tubes arrived at our house a few days before and the boxes were mighty heavy to deliver up to the lotties.

2013 11 10_5028 2013 11 10_5029

The day before the working party we mixed the plants up to make sure the planting looked random and natural. We placed a selection of little trees, canes and protection tubing alongside each section of hedge ready for a quick start in the morning.

2013 11 10_5031 2013 11 10_5032

2013 11 10_5035 2013 11 10_5033

2013 11 10_5034

With heads down and bottoms up Pete and I busily made our way along the stretch of fencing – we did need some time out around noon to straighten out, rest our backs and refresh ourselves with coffee and biscuits.

2013 11 10_5036 2013 11 10_5038

Twenty five members of all ages turned up to help us plant our new hedge including children, their parents and grandparents. Several were started way before our planned starting time. It was heartening to see them all sharing the experience together. We were amazed how the children all managed to find little creatures as they busily planted away, such as worms, beetles, slugs and spiders. Little hands carefully held them like precious jewels as they were all studied in great detail.

20131109_101429 20131109_101439

Jude, our community secretary and my “better half”, caught up on all the children’s news since we last met with the two little girls from our neighbouring plot. She heard all about the birthday party they held on the allotments using the picnic benches under the old oak tree and enjoyed following the trail and doing the quizzes with their friends.

2013 11 10_4998

Three generations, Syd, his daughter and granddaughters, helped each other to plant the little plants, but progress was slowed every time a mini-beast was discovered as granddad had to move them to safety, even a big slug!

2013 11 10_4991 2013 11 10_4992

Within half an hour of our ten o’clock start members were heads down hard at work along the whole length of fence.

20131109_101459 20131109_104747

Below Margaret is enjoying her first ever Bowbrook Allotment Community working party having started on her plot in the spring, while close by Anne and Charlie work in top gear to get as much done as possible before they have to go elsewhere for a family gathering in the afternoon.

20131109_104757 2013 11 10_4993

2013 11 10_5003 2013 11 10_4994

2013 11 10_4995

The day started off chilly but before the end of the morning jackets were discarded and hung up on the fence. Sherlie and Pete in the photo below had been hard at work since 8:30 so straightening up afterwards was a bit of a struggle.

2013 11 10_4997

There were some stunning wellies on display.

2013 11 10_5001 2013 11 10_5000

Amazingly all the plants were snug in their new homes within an hour and a half. It goes without saying that we had earned our lunch break. The children went off at lunchtime as they all had other activities to attend in the afternoon such as dance lessons. We hoped they were not too tired to enjoy their afternoon activities. Those who stayed for the afternoon creaked more than a little when they returned to new tasks.

20131109_115705 20131109_115723

After a good rest with chatter and laughter we moved on to plant thousands of bulbs. Tulips, Daffodils, Muscari, Alliums, Camassias, Crocus, Iris and Fritillaries. We already have planted thousands of flowering bulbs, both spring and summer flowering over the four autumns we have been in existence. This year we intended to add to those already in the two orchards, the car park borders and under the mature oak and sycamore trees. In late winter and early spring these flowering bulbs will appear to brighten us up and provide our pollinator friends and our natural pest controllers with some vital nutrition.

20131109_120820 20131109_121514 20131109_122004 20131109_124125

20131109_125513 20131109_125519

To finish the day off a few of us stayed to move some hedging plants from elsewhere on the site.

2013 11 10_5005 2013 11 10_5004

A busy, successful and most fruitful day, which displayed just what a true community of gardeners can achieve by working together. We hope these activity days help to ensure we encourage and nurture interest in our naturalists and gardeners of the future.

allotments fruit and veg garden wildlife gardening grow your own kitchen gardens recycling

Trench Composting

Trench composting is an underused way to improve your soil texture and add fertility to your soil. And it has the added bonus of getting rid of those tough old stems of spent sunflowers, sweetcorn and brassicas. We spent a day trench composting the quarter of our allotment in which we shall be growing our roots next year. Many books tell us not to add manure or humus to the patch where you are planning to grow your root crops but we have found by experience that if the trenching is carried out in early autumn it works just fine. As the depth of soil on our plot is less than a border fork deep we need to keep adding to it in an attempt to build up some depth.

The job gets started as Jude, aka Mrs Greenbench or The Undergardener, takes out a 2 foot wide trench down to the hard layer of boulder clay. I then follow on with the rotovator breaking up this hard packed layer of clay and large pebbles. It makes the rotovator work hard and it jumps and lurches around at the bottom of the trench. By doing this we hope to gain depth and let worms and other creatures of the soil work in the humus we will be adding. While the rotovator turns up the stones and pebbles we collect them up to use as a stonepile, a beetle shelter. The beetles are useful predators who will help in our pest control.

2013 10 01_4074 2013 10 01_4075 2013 10 01_4076

Green waste from the spent crops on the plot are then placed all along the bottom of the trench, with the tougher material needing chopping with a sharp stainless steel spade. Even the toughest of green waste such as brassica stalks, sunflower stems and sweetcorn stalks will break down in the depths of the trench. We also add shredded paper (only non-glossy), torn card board and lawn mowings.

2013 10 01_4077 2013 10 01_4078

2013 10 01_4080 2013 10 01_4082 2013 10 01_4083

To further improve soil texture and add more nutrient value we  mix in a barrow load of quality farmyard manure.We find this encourages the soil critters to get going.

2013 10 01_4084 2013 10 01_4085

To finish Jude replaces the soil over the top of the material in the trench and as a final touch we add a thick mulch of farmyard manure.

2013 10 01_4086 2013 10 01_4087 2013 10 01_4088 2013 10 01_4089

We then hand the trench with its added ingredients over to the creatures of the soil. When we trench again in a few years time all that material will have totally broken down.

We carry on by digging out another trench alongside the first and keep moving over the area until it has all been trenched. We have our plot divided into four sections to allow for crop rotation so we trench one or two sections each year. This method of composting is a very efficient way of recycling green waste including the tough materials often thrown in refuse bins. Plants grown in the richly textured and nutrient rich soil will grow strongly and therefore be healthier so will be better able to cope with attacks from pests and diseases.

autumn autumn colours climbing plants colours flowering bulbs fruit and veg garden design garden photography gardening grasses grow your own half-hardy perennials hardy perennials light light quality ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs shrubs succulents trees village gardens

A Garden Bouquet for September

September is the month when the first signs of autumn creep in and there is something special happening to the light. Misty mornings give the garden a fresh atmosphere. Darkness comes too early each day. Fruit picking is the order of the day and we get out our pruning kit, secateurs, pruning saws and loppers large and small to tackle the trees and shrubs.

Grasses begin to change colour, some flowers and seed heads are turning redder and more purple others towards the pale tints of biscuit.

2013 09 27_3768 2013 09 27_3769 2013 09 27_3770 2013 09 27_3771

The Blackberry vine is so heavy with fruit that it blocks the pathway and apples hang in thick bunches but seem slow to ripen. At last colour is creeping into the greenness of the grapes. Fingers crossed that the weather is kind to them and therefore kind to us.

2013 09 27_3772 2013 09 27_37732013 09 27_3777

2013 09 27_3774 2013 09 27_3776

This Buddleja is a special one with purple flowers at the tip of each arching branch. The out side of each individual flower is dusty purple-grey but the rich bright purple inside provides a beautiful contrast. Buddleys lindleyana is a very special shrub. A real favourite! And it looks even better alongside a bright orange neighbour in the guise of a Crocosmia. While we are on the subject of bright flowered Crocosmia the yellow one nearby is gentler but still a true bright beauty.

2013 09 27_3778 2013 09 27_3713

2013 09 27_3714

Shrubs and trees are thinking ahead to the winter and painting their leaves in reds, oranges and yellows. The first two photos are of a special Ribes which will give us yellow flowers in the winter. These are followed by deciduous varieties of Euonymus and Cercis “Forest Pansy”.

2013 09 27_3715 2013 09 27_3716

2013 09 27_3719 2013 09 27_3721

On the gravel garden, our Beth Chatto Garden, grasses are starring alongside the autumn stars, Michaelmas Daisies.

2013 09 27_3717 2013 09 27_3718  2013 09 27_3720  2013 09 27_3722

Bulbs usually mean late winter or early spring but these cyclamen and tulbaghia are showstoppers right now.

2013 09 27_3723 2013 09 27_3724 2013 09 27_3729

So off we go into autumn!

bird watching birds climbing plants colours conservation fruit and veg garden design garden photography garden wildlife gardening grasses hardy perennials ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs photography roses Shropshire village gardens wildlife

A Garden Bouquet for August

It is time I took up my camera and took photos of the delights our garden has to offer. This is a particularly important set of photos as we have decided on August 3rd as the date we are going to open our garden for the National Garden Scheme next year. We keep looking for gaps or places in need of improvements be it little tweaks or bigger tasks such as re-laying our main central path in the back garden.

So I went off around the garden with my zoom lens attached to see what’s what in our patch. As it panned out there was so much to see in the back garden that all this month’s photos were taken there. Please enjoy the journey and feel the damp, cool morning air which acted like a soft lens filter giving a delicate misty blue atmosphere to some of the shots.

In the “Shed Bed” the delicate china blue flowers popping out of the spiky spheres of the echinops provide sustenance for our bees and the apple tree trained over an arch will provide sustenance for us. The odd white flowers come from the gentle creamy colours of the hydrangea heads.

2013 08 22_2847 2013 08 22_2926 2013 08 22_2927

Our tulbagias continue to flower in the new slate garden close by and above them the purple sedum foliage hangs from the old gypsy kettle on our old ladder.

2013 08 22_2928 2013 08 22_2929 2013 08 22_2930 2013 08 22_2931

There are lots of plants to look at around the end of the greenhouse where the vine is dripping with grapes awaiting late summer sun to ripen them and paint them in purple and black. The Quince vranga tree has a few fruits hanging at the tips of the branches and the soft pink curled flowers of Sanguisorba “Pink Elephant” brighten the border below.

2013 08 22_2857 2013 08 22_2933 2013 08 22_2935 2013 08 22_2936

In the long “Tree Border ” this lilac flowered clematis is dripping with flowers and the thornless blackberry is heavy with young unripe fruits.

2013 08 22_2862 2013 08 22_2938

The Secret Garden and the Chicken Garden are at their best, blooming brightly with the cordon apples full of ripening fruit acting as a backdrop, many of which are just beginning to develop a flush in their cheeks. The Shropshire Damson tree overhangs one border and its deep purple fruits are weighing down its branches so heavily that the fruits look like they are reaching out to hold hands with the flowers.

2013 08 22_2939 2013 08 22_2940 2013 08 22_2941 2013 08 22_2867 2013 08 22_2944 2013 08 22_2945 2013 08 22_2946 2013 08 22_2872 2013 08 22_2873 2013 08 22_2949

A few new plants are waiting, still in their pots, in the Secret Garden while we decide where to plant them. They seem to be the colours of citrus fruits!

2013 08 22_2950 2013 08 22_2951

Along the central pathway our pears are close to their peak picking time. As I pass each day I look longingly to see if a couple are ready. Surely this is the ultimate gardening experience, eating a juicy, scented pear still warm from the sunshine just seconds from leaving the branch. The few plums look sad and lonely – from all four cordons we have just one clump of fruit. A poor year!

2013 08 22_2878 2013 08 22_2877 2013 08 22_2955 2013 08 22_2956

In the greenhouse the tomatoes are producing prolific amount of fruit in shades of yellow, red and purple. We are picking and enjoying them daily and adding some to the store of produce in the freezer. In the late autumn we shall make them into chutney coupled with our onions and apples.

From the greenhouse door I can look out across the “L Bed” and the “Long Border” through an arch draped in richly scented roses and a delicate china blue clematis. This is a herbaceous clematis rather than a climber, but it does enjoy a good scramble over everything in its path.

2013 08 22_2958 2013 08 22_2960 2013 08 22_2961

2013 08 22_2963 2013 08 22_2964 2013 08 22_2965 2013 08 22_2967 2013 08 22_2968 2013 08 22_2970

This strange fruit is a heritage cucumber called Booths Blond, which Jude the Undergardener tells me is very tasty. I don’t eat them, they are one of the few fruits and veggies I don’t enjoy. This variety certainly looks very different to the long straight regimental cucumbers sold in supermarkets.

2013 08 22_2971

We have been concerned about the lack of butterflies and bees this year but recently they have come back in good numbers. Honey bees, bumble bees and solitary bees are all feeding furiously on any simple flowers. The butterflies are particularly tempted by the buddlejas and the marjorams. We garden with wildlife in mind particularly in the choice of plants we grow. Our flowers tend to be simple and  open, just the sort preferred by pollinating insects. We rely on our insects and birds to look after our garden for us. We garden totally organically relying on wildlife to do our pest controlling and pollinating of our crops.

2013 08 22_2897 2013 08 22_2969

As I am writing this the sky is full of House Martins and Swallows gathering together in readiness for their long migratory journey to the African continent. There they will find flies to feed on while here in the UK the insect population will disappear with the onset of winter. These acrobatic flying little birds seem to be celebrating a good English summer!

In the shrubs and trees warblers and titmice are busy feeding up after a period of moult. August and September are when we tend to see our warblers, Willow, Garden and this year even a Grasshopper Warbler. Chiffchaff and Whitethroat tend to be with us most of the year.

community gardening fruit and veg gardening grow your own half-hardy perennials hardy perennials herbs meadows nurseries ornamental trees and shrubs Shrewsbury Shropshire shrubs trees

BAC evening out.

A new nursery that has opened this year on the outskirts of Shrewsbury, emailed Jude, the Undergardener recently inviting members of our allotment community to visit them one evening after closing time for a tour of the nursery.

So earlier this week 20 of us arrived in the car park of “Love Plants” and gathered together anticipating an enjoyable evening talking plants. They have a very classy sign!

2013 07 26_2119

Susan spotted an interesting plant before she even reached the door. There were so many treats inside. Although we primarily went for a tour behind the scenes most of us were tempted by a few specimens each. Mrs Greenbench, the Undergardener managed to fill a trolley with Hemerocalis, Achillea and Echinacea.

2013 07 26_2118

Tim, the Plants Manager, gave us a quick talk about how the garden centre came about. We were delighted to know that plants were supplied by our favourite nurseries, The dingle and The Derwen, both near Welshpool and part of the same company. The Dingle is a pure nursery and its partner The Derwen more of a small garden centre. With these  three outlets close by we have access to plenty of quality plants.

2013 07 26_2120 2013 07 26_2121

All the perennials were laid out in alphabetical order and they were impressive specimens. Likewise the shrubs. The first area visitors find is an area featuring plants currently in flower or with good foliage colour.

2013 07 26_2122 2013 07 26_2123 2013 07 26_2124 2013 07 26_2125

There is a good selection of seeds, herbs and fruit and veg plants.

2013 07 26_2127 2013 07 26_2128

The nursery is sited within a caravan sales centre and even between the caravans meadows have been sown. Topiary specimens impressed as did the new shade area.

2013 07 26_2129 2013 07 26_2130 2013 07 26_2131 2013 07 26_2132 2013 07 26_2133

Before leaving I spoke to Tim about the possibility of a joint venture where Love Plants could sponsor a new garden within our communal gardens back at BAC and the three linked plant centres supplying the plants. This looks like being an exciting project. Watch this space!