climbing plants colours flowering bulbs fruit and veg garden photography gardens gardens open to the public hardy perennials irises kitchen gardens meadows National Trust ornamental trees and shrubs poppies Shropshire The National Trust trees walled gardens

Croft Castle month by month – Part 6 June

We arrived for our June exploration of the gardens at the National Trust property, Croft Castle, with great expectations as the sun shone, the sky was blue and the temperature warm. We were not disappointed in any way! After our usual coffee and cakes we made our way to the main feature of the garden, the Walled Garden. On the way we enjoyed finding some very colourful plants with the added extra, scent.

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On entering the Walled Garden the colour and scent continued. Our first glance through the doorway promised a great deal to see and smell.

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Poppies were on top form! Beautiful!

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As we ambled up the gentle slope studying the plants in the border against the wall we noticed that the vines were now in full leaf with tiny bunches of flowers forming, the promise of a healthy grape harvest to come. Irises blooming in the borders opposite bloomed with much more complex and colourful flowers.

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As usual we passed through the blue gate to see what was going on in the gardeners’ working area, but not much was going on. We were pleased to see the Cobaea back in flower. It lives up to its common name, the “Cup and Saucer Plant”.

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Our old favourite, the Cornus cousa was white over with flower-like bracts and beneath it Nancy, Liz and Clementine the Pekin Bantams we met earlier were enjoying their new home.

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The ancient apple orchard and the mixed borders hugging the red-brick walls were full of colour, scent and texture. The walled garden had truly come to life!

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More borders have come to life this month in the central area of the walled garden among and around the old gnarled fruit trees. A meadow of poppies, a rose garden and mixed borders all add to the effect.

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We left the walled garden through a gateway with a shrubby area with Foxgloves enjoying its shade.

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The Secret Garden was at its peak, soft colours, gentle perfumes and a multitude of greens.

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Around the front of the residence at Croft Castle we looked over the wall to admire the vast area of meadowland. Deep pink Centranthus bordered the base of the walls giving a bright margin between wall and meadow.

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We are half way through our year of monthly visits to the gardens of Croft Castle. Our next visit in July will hopefully be bright, warm and sunny too, giving us even more to look forward to.



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Yellow Book Gardens 1 – Bury Court Farmhouse

Our first National Garden Scheme’s Yellow Book garden of 2015 was to Bury Court Farmhouse in the Herefordshire village of Wigmore. We always look forward to our visits to other gardens which open to the public under the auspices of the NGS because of course we open for the Yellow Book too. We were particularly keen to see what other gardens looked like in April as our first opening this year is on 16th April.

To celebrate our first NGS garden of the year the sun came out and the temperature shot up to 17 degrees way above anything we have so far experienced in 2015. We drove down through the beautiful Shropshire Hills and into Herefordshire a county with such beautiful villages among beautiful countryside. We were directed into a rough grassed car park riddled with muddy puddles. We had to seek out a space for our car among dead farm machinery slowly decaying and being taken over by Mother Nature. A cheerful welcome awaited us at the garden gate. Spot the horse shoe hanging from the NGS sign.

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We passed through a five barred gate into a courtyard with narrow borders around its perimeter and a rectangular bed in the centre all planted with cheerful spring bulbs and early flowering perennials and shrubs. Hyacinths, Vincas, Celandines, Doffodils and Tulips.

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We were amused by the owl family and the bird bath.

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The garden boasted a small productive patch with leeks and broad beans already growing well and cloches warming up soil for future crops. A lawned area alongside was bordered by a tall hedge which allowed woodland plants to grow in its shade.

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At the front of the house was a large sunny lawn with island beds full of brightly coloured spring flowering plants. Primroses, Primulas and bulbs especially Hyacinths and Narcissi.

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This beautiful bronze statue of a hare was basking in the sunshine among blue Anemones.

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The borders around this sunny lawn were truly mixed borders with herbaceous planting, shrubs and trees giving interest at every level.

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Right in the centre of this lawned area was a clue to the original use of the imposing stone built building in the centre of the garden. It had originally been a farm growing apples to make cider. The photos below show the mill stone that would have been used to crush the cider apples. Ponies were used to pull the stones around a groove.

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So our first Yellow Book garden of 2015 was certainly worth a visit with its cheerful planting and it served very nice tea and cakes!



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Three Cathedrals – Hereford – Part Two

Back at the cathedral in Hereford, we found colour flowing in through the windows even though it was a dull day. The stained glass windows seemed to capture the little light there was. The majority were typical of such windows found in any church building anywhere in the UK …..

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……. but a few were very different indeed. These were of recent design with a original art work and a style and technique we had never seen before.

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Hereford is famed for being the home of one of the most famous of ancient maps ever produced, the Mappa Mundi. The detail was amazing and it was hard to imagine that this was the work of someone’s imagination. How could it have been conceived? Other ancient books were displayed in glass topped cases.

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The craft of wood carving is not left out, as we discovered fine examples on misericords and chair backs.

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The smith was not left out either. We found these very detailed carvings on gates at the entrance to a walkway within the cathedral.

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Our final craft we discovered was the work of the stonecarvers. These two dragons topped off pillars in a tiny chapel.

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Once back outside we were disappointed not to be able to walk around the the building to view it from all sides but we were very pleased to find a courtyard containing this beautiful piece of sculpture and close by some intricate ironwork on a pair of gates.

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As we returned to the car we found a few interesting buildings left in the centre of the city. A row of old cottages close to the Cathedral, the Victorian Public Library and an old warehouse now restored and extended to provide modern apartments. So there ends the look at the first cathedral in this little series.

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architecture Church architecture

Three Cathedrals – Hereford – Part One

On a freezing cold day in mid January we decided to visit Hereford which, although only an hours journey or so away from us, we had never visited. It is the county capital of Herefordshire. The city centre was not very impressive at all and we had the impression much of its ancient architecture had been destroyed in the ’60’s and ’70’s, exactly the same as had happened to our county town Shrewsbury. A few gems remained but there were an awful lot of ugly building around them.

But on a day with sleet and wet snow showers we were here to see the Cathedral. We first sited the cathedral as we walked up a narrow cobbled street with local artisan shops lining each side. The Cathedral School buildings clustered around the entrance gateway to the Cathedral Close so uniformed school children busily and hastily crossed the close in every direction.

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Edward Elgar, composer, is celebrated with this beautiful bronze statue so full of character, where he leans back on his old Samson bicycle admiring the cathedral.

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A single raindrop had settled itself right on the end of his nose, and hung ready to drip onto his magnificent moustache.

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Close to the main Cathedral entrance a recent oak framed building housed the workshop of the stone mason. Masons are constantly kept busy on repairs to stonework in every cathedral around the country.

The Dioscese of Hereford was founded in 676 and the first Cathedral dedicated to King Ethelbert was built in 794. Ethelbert was to become a martyr and the Cathedral dedicated to him became a place of pilgrimage. His bones stored at the Cathedral became a centre of a pilgrimage. A new Cathedral was built between 1020 and 1040 but in 1075 was destroyed by the Welsh.

Thus major rebuilding work followed between 1107 and 1158 in the Norman style, still much in evidence today. So the Cathedral today contains examples of architectural styles from the Norman period right up to the current time.

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The main way into the Cathedral is through a huge stone porch. Inside massive oak doors were well furnished with iron hinges and a lion headed door knocker.

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Once inside the incredible height of the building became apparent with wide intricately carved stone pillars leading the eye up to an incredibly beautifully carved and painted vaulted ceiling.

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It is unusual to see such colour in an Anglican building in this country. We were soon to discover that this building had been very colourfully decorated as we found original examples. Hereford Cathedral is a fine example of English Gothic church architecture. Within it we were to find colour in its stained glass windows, in the tiles on its floor, on wood carvings and in fabric.

The first example we found was the decoration in orange and red around this tiny stone window but we were soon to find even more colour in the mosaic patterning around the base of the carved stone font.

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Probably one of the newest examples of colourful craftwork to be found was on the intricately embroidered kneelers hanging from the seats.

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We found many examples of detailed and richly painted carvings in both stone and wood.

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Before we finish part one of our visit to Hereford Cathedral we shall look down at our feet to admire the colourful, patterned tiles.

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All this ancient delicate craft needs protecting from the damp and cold. Several of these huge, iron, pot-bellied oil burners were working hard to do this. In part two we shall look at carvings in stone and artistry in glass and  in words on paper.

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