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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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A Tale of Two Gardens – One gardener two gardens!

Our gardening  friend Nancy has two gardens – the only gardener we know who has two gardens. They are quite different gardens in the way they are designed but the quality of planting, the use of colour and above all the original and most effective use of foliage are features in both.

We visited both of Nancy’s gardens with the HPS Shrewsbury and South Mini-Group and we all met up at Nancy’s home. Next year Nancy will be opening her two gardens for the NGS for the first time ever so lots more people will be have the pleasure of visiting it.

Later we drove for ten minutes to her other garden, which unusually is a garden with no house. The garden at Elmfield Road in Shrewsbury is small but full of interest and inspiration. The little front garden is based on a central circle surrounded with foliage and flowering plants. It is entered via an archway with a clematis climbing up it.

A little cameo against a blue fence invited us into the back garden where we were welcomed by the sight of a beautiful garden.

Nancy has a wonderful way of building borders to take advantage of the heights and colours of plants and effectively even within such narrow border.

Foliage plays such an important part in the design of Nancy’s plantings and throughout her garden beautiful pairings are evident.

Now you can see just how beautiful a garden Nancy’s home garden is you may want to enjoy my next post which will feature her second garden, Esme’s Garden.

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Stone House Cottage Garden – rare plants and follies

A return visit to a garden that we have not seen for a few decades is a rare treat. We returned to Stone House Cottage Garden and Nursery as part of a day out with our Hardy Plant Society Shropshire Group friends. In the afternoon we followed up with a wander around Arley Arboretum, another place we have visited before. Both gardens open for the National Garden Scheme during the year too.

We were greeted by Stone House’s owner and gardener, Louisa Arthbutnot, who invited us to wander freely but saying she would be around to answer queries. We entered through a round tower and were soon reminded about what makes this such a special patch, interesting plants combined well and brick-built grottoes.

Entering the garden through the first folly we are given a choice of paths straight away, so enticing.

But we did not make a choice straight as we were attracted to the unusual selection of plants growing right alongside the back door of the entrance folly.

 

Brickwork and follies feature so strongly in the is cottage garden and enhance it in a unique way.

 

As we moved through the garden we discovered unusual shrubs with loose meadow-style planting beneath them.

 

But what makes this cottage garden stand out as being something rather special is its collection of rare and unusual plants and the way Louisa places plants in communities so effectively.

 

As we left the garden we all made for the nursery where many unusual plants were waiting to tempt us.

 

 

 

 

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An oasis in a city – the Emma Bridgwater Courtyard Garden

On a sunny day in late June we set off to the city, Stoke-on-Trent, to visit two gardens. Emma Bridgwater Pottery shop has its own courtyard garden with its own gardener caring for it and nurturing every plant. I had read the book he had recently written and emjoyed his words and the accompanying photos so wished to see it in real life. The second garden was Trentham, one of our favourite gardens and one we visit often. This visit was to see for the first time the new meadow plantings by Nigel Dunnett. These will be the subject of a following post. First we visit the courtyard garden.

The raised beds in the entrance courtyard are an antedote to the city, to the factory behind.

We arrived in temperatures nearing 30C and started off with drinks in the cafe there before wandering through the pottery shop exiting a doorway at its far end that was the entrance to this secret garden. It felt a special place, an atmosphere of colour, calmness and peace in a city. the blue of the window frames, the step banisters and various railings are enhanced by the greens and other colours of the flowers in the beds. The entrance is softened and made more welcoming.

   

We wonder if this is going to be the garden in its entirity but are heartened when Jude spots a sign to the “Courtyard Garden”. Peering through the door as we step over is threshhold we are amazed by what is before us inviting us to explore. The garden is no bigger than a back yard of a terraced house, but it packed a punch in the gentlest way possible.

     

The brightest colour came from sweet peas, dahlias, lilies and other more subtle colour was provided by hardy herbaceous plants. The sun brought out their colours and the accompanying shadows emphasised their textures. Annuals were dotted through the borders, poppies and phacelia.

     

       

The gentle clucking and chatter of Pekin hens and the chirp of their chicks provided a calming backdrop and cut out the traffic sounds from nearby roads.

 

As we left the courtyard we noticed a display of succulent Echeverias in terracotta pots alongside the door close to a beautiful self-seeded native Euphorbia. This little patch of garden inside the city was so gentle and succeeded in hiding the sights and sounds of the busyness outside its walls.

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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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A Visit to the Wonderful Gardens of Powys Castle – Part 2

Welcome back to Powys Castle gardens. In part 2 I will take you on a journey along the upper terraces, and in part 3 I will look at the lower gardens.

The top terrace features perennials and shrubs that give of their best in late summer into early autumn. Some are difficult to grow and several are half-hardy but the special conditions here allow then to flourish. To see them growing so well and looking so happy certainly encouraged us to try more such plants at home. We have lots of succulents and Salvias already but we are always up for a challenge!

First we shall have a look at views along the borders and looking out over the terraces. Powys is renown for its ancient sculpted yew hedging which appears now and again as we walked the terraces. Sculpted figures stand atop the stone balustrades in places overlooking the views.

  

As well as the beauty of the long views of the terrace borders there were many individual that shone out as special. Enjoy my gallery of plant portraits. As usual click on the first pic and navigate with the arrows.

In part 3 of these posts about Powys Castle we will have a look at the yew hedges and the Lower Garden.