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Moors Meadow – a romantic garden full of magic

We had not visited the magical garden at Moors Meadow for several years so we were really looking forward to exploring it with my brother Graham and sister-in-law Vicky.

The garden here was pronounced Britain’s most romantic garden by a national gardening monthly. We were so looking forward to finding out if it lived up to this and if it still felt as magical as we remembered.

It didn’t take long for us to discover that it was indeed a garden full of surprises, artifacts, unusual plants, amazing seats and wandering pathways through changing moods of garden.

   

I shall now share a gallery of photos showing our walk around the gardens.

So there is my gallery of photos of our journey around the magical and romantic gardens at Moors Meadow. I hope you enjoyed sharing our journey and our enjoyment.

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The Picton Garden in October

The Picton Garden is situated below the Malvern Hills in Herefordshire. The garden is famous for its aster collections and its beautiful small garden. In fact it holds the National Plant Collection of Michaelmas Daisies, so a visit in September and October is a real treat.

We have already visited the garden twice before, once in autmn and once in spring and it is wonderful every time we visit. This visit was in mid-October but the seasons this year had been so strange that everything in the garden is way ahead of time for a normal season, at least three weeks out of sinc. So this visit would prove to be very different to our previous autumn wander.

The reception, with its rustic wooden hut and beautiful gate are matched by the friendly welcome we received from the garden owners and managers, members of the Picton family. Immediately you realise this is not gong to be a sterile collection of Asters, but a well-designed beautifuly planted garden with winding paths among mixed borders, each with its own character. There are even a few pots of succulents near the entrance.

The first views of the borders along the paths set the quality and sensitive style of planting that we were to enjoy throughout.

 

We enjoyed some interesting cntrasting shrub and tree foliage combinations.

 

But we had to admire the way asters were used mixed with other perbaceous plants and the clever use of all the many perennials, huddled together in the borders.

    

As we neared the end of our wanderings around these beautiful autumnal garden scenes, we discovered display beds showing how different asters fitted into the different families. The nursery was our last port of call before we returned to our car for the journey home. Of course we had quite a boot full of Asters with a couple of hardy Chrysanthemums for good measure.

 

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An adventure to get here – Canwood Gallery

Canwood Gallery in the Herefordshire countryside is found after miles of narrow winding lanes and so is decsribed as “an adventure to find” on its website. We visited this outdoor sculpture gallery after hearing of it from Graham and Vivky, my brother and our sister-in-law.

The driveway led us to a beautifulbrick and timber house wrapped in a garden and fields in beautiful countryside. We started wandering around to the sound of a tractor at work. Apart from that the place was silent. Some sculptural pieces were situated close to the house or even leaned against farm buildings.

 

An indoor gallery set in an old combine shed held an exhibition called “In the middle of  somewhere.”

Starting our tour of the outdoor exhibition spaces we were attracted to these two corten steel pieces. Follw my mini-gallery to follow me as I walked around the pieces looking through them to the spaces beyond.

Close by two large heads looked over the countryside.

Sometimes we both find odd pieces not to our taste and this one made us feel nothing.

When studying some sculpture pieces it is the detail that attracts, such as with these figures, one in wood the other stone.

Simply titled “The Bull”, this piece created from two finishes of metals was full of strength and movement.

Moving pieces always add interest to a collection of static pieces. This figure moved with the breeze most elegantly, catching the light as it did so. Enjoy my mini-gallery to follow her changing positions.

After being mesmerised by her gentle movements the following pieces appeared strong and static.

From the fields we entered the gardens through a metal gate to enjoy the sculpture standing comfortably among garden plants. Two pieces, “Birds” and “Lady of the Lake” are sharing the water of the pond in front of the cottage.

   

I will put all my photos of the other sculptures in to gallery for you to enjoy.

 

 

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Snowdrops and Creative Pruning – Ivy Croft Garden

I often publish posts about summer days out in winter to help us warm up so as we are in the middle of an exceptionally hot period of weather I shall do the opposite and publish this post I wrote in the winter in the hope it may cool us down!

There were two main reasons we wanted to visit Ivy Croft Garden and Nursery to look at, firstly their huge collection of snowdrops and secondly their imaginative pruning techniques. Both these elements are highlights of the February garden. We drove down to Herefordshire with gardening friends Pete and Sherlie who had never visited the garden before. We had been once before several years ago, when it was still quite early on in the development stage. We were looking forward to seeing what it was like after so many years.

The garden which was started in 1997, surrounds the cottage which has a formal area close to the house partly enclosed by an ivy hedge. Further afield the garden becomes less formal and a wander around gave us the chance to look at its pond, willow and dogwood collections, a perry pear orchard and a vegetable garden enclosed with trained fruit trees.

The area around the house featured many flowering bulbs and in the spring and summer alpines would take over. A colourful Acer griseum stood with two variegated Hollies in a circular bed surrounded by a gravel pathway.

   

The pruned features we discovered as we parked up included a pleached limes, box balls and all were neatly presented.

  

An amazing selection of ivies made up the ivy hedge which surround two sides of the formal garden around the cottage. It was a beautiful, unusual feature to welcome visitors.

 

The huge work shed had a unique humorous tough, buttresses created by training and pruning yew trees. Close by stood this beautiful white barked birch tree.

 

As we walked away from the pleached limes and box ball topiary, we wandered through the wide selection of rare and unusual snowdrops. Beyond this border was a trellis-like “fedge”, a living hedge made from willow.

 

Shrubs with coloured stems and trees with coloured bark are strong features of the winter garden, and Ivycroft had some fine examples of both. Coloured stems were provided by Salix and Cornus, whereas the coloured bark appeared on Betulas and Prunus.

       

Little details reward those who take a closer look, a catkin, a flower or an old seed pod.

      

As mentioned earlier Snowdrops were a special feature of the gardens at Ivy Croft, but we also enjoyed cyclamen, miniature daffodils and hellebores. Colours shone from shrubs too, Hamamelis, Daphne mezereum and Hedera helix in its shrubby form.

       

We certainly had plenty to enjoy at Ivy Croft and it had changed so much since our last visit over 10 years ago. We will certainly be visiting once again when it opens again for a day in the spring.

 

 

 

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The Weir – a riverside spring garden.

We took friends and fellow garden lovers, Pete and Sherlie, to visit a garden just a few miles south of Hereford which we have previously visited in spring, the time when it peaks. We knew our friends would love it too! It is a National Trust garden and is a long and narrow garden because of its riverside position.

As we got out of the car the spring bulbs greeted us and set the scene for the discoveries to come.

 

We followed a path half way up the valley side overlooking the river, and here early flowering bulbs covered the slopes.

    

All visitors including us were amazed by the delicate pale blue flowers of Scilla italica.

A variety of trees and shrubs cast gentle shade over the valley side.

  

Please enjoy the rest of our wanderings along the pathways of this valleyside garden, by looking at my gallery. Just click on the first photo and navigate by using the arrows.

 

It is always a bonus when visiting a garden to find rare and unusual plants. Here at the Weir we enjoyed discovering  Lathraea squamaria, Tooth Wort, (photo on left), a parasite living on the roots of woody plants and spending most of its time underground and Trachystemon orientalis with the unusual common name “Abraham-Isaac-Jacob” (on the right)

 

The finale to our visit was to explore the walled garden which was in the process of being renovated. We looked forward to seeing what progress had been made. As it turned out we soon noticed the restored glasshouse, long herbaceous borders planted up and productive borders were being prepared for sowing by volunteers. The walled garden has a great future ahead of it and visitors to the valleyside will enjoy discovering the walled garden as much as the main valleyside gardens.

 

 

 

 

 

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Another Yellow Book Garden: Windsor Cottage

Looking back to a sunny summer’s day!

Off down the A49 trunk road into Herefordshire for another visit to enjoy a fellow NGS, Yellow book garden. Windsor Cottage is near the village of Dilwyn and described as a wildlife friendly half-acre garden which has just completed a 5 year redesign.

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This proved to be garden full of very special plants beautifully grown by a couple of keen, energetic gardeners who were so keen to share their garden with us. They are both artists and their use of colour and planting companions displayed their creative flair.

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In order to share our enjoyment of Windsor Cottage with you I have created this gallery. Please click on the first picture and navigate using the arrows.

So this was a garden of great plants, two great plantspeople and an atmosphere of peacefulness and relaxation.

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Another Yellow Book Garden – Hill House Farm

We love to visit our fellow Yellow Book gardens and then sharing them with you. In this post we will share our visit to Hill House Farm, another Herefordshire garden gem. We visited back in July. We liked the description presented in the NGS book, which enticed us to wander slowly down a long gentle slope through shrub and tree plantings in grass with closer cut paths marking the way down to a wildlife pool 200 feet below. Knowing that the garden had been developing for 40 years already gave added interest, as these gardeners were obviously thinking about and doing things in their garden. All good gardeners will never stop learning!

We love a garden with a warm welcome, inviting paths and steps especially when one flight of steps surrounded by aromatic herbs leads us to a good cup of tea and homemade cakes! Beautifully designed and thoughtfully placed seats help too!

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As soon as we arrived we knew we would enjoy the plants as they seemed to be placed in the best possible places to catch the light to absorb it and increase the intensity of their colours, whether bright or pastel.

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This garden definitely did not disappoint and delivered extras we were not expecting but always enjoy, outdoor sculptural pieces. I have shown a few pieces from different directions and distances to show how well they sit in their garden environment.

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Stone walls, some tall, tough and imposing others tiny, simply visually supporting and complimenting the plants, created a partnership with wide green swathes of grass pathways led our eyes down the garden invitingly – we just had to follow.

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A stream appeared alongside the path we followed downhill and it accompanied us right down to the pool as the planting changed to reflect the damper air and ground. Rambling wild roses and native shrubs added plenty of colour and texture to the hedges.

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The pool edges and margins were still being developed but there were already interesting plant groupings going on.

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This amazing ever-moving glass and metal sculpture hung over the water surface reflecting every moment that a breeze moved the air. I have put 3 pics in so that you can select the one you like best.

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Jude the Undergardener always likes a swing in the garden so this poolside play piece delighted her, hanging as it did below a huge ancient oak.

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Wandering back up the slope slowly afforded us views of the garden slope and the farm bulding in the distance high up.

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And to top it all off this unusual informal garden had a lovely productive garden and the finest views. a great day out indeed!

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A Water Garden around an Old Mill

A while ago now we visited this wonderful water garden created around an old water mill on the outskirts of the beautiful Herefordshire village of Pembridge. We decided it was about time for a return visit and also time to peruse the Old Chapel Galleries in the same village. After spending some time and too much money on new sculptures for the garden we drove a few miles on and parked up in the garden car park under lovely mature trees. We collected our hand drawn plan of the garden and set off to explore the Westonbury Mill Water Gardens. Immediately we were impressed by how fresh everything looked and were drawn to bright patches of colourful planting among the greenery.

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As in any good garden the quality and choice of individual plants is a key factor in making it an enjoyable place to visit. Take a look at these beauties at Westonbury Mill. Being a water garden designed around a series of streams and pools we searched out the water and marsh loving plants first and found many in flower including the following specimens. Irises including varieties of I.ensata, the wild flowerheads of Butomis, the flowering rush and various Primulas including P. florindae and Rodgersias.

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Even though this was a water garden there were plenty more perennials flowering well and catching the attention of visitors.

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Westonbury is well-known for its collection of follies, built by the garden owner for the sheer fun of it and to amuse the visitors, although they can also have a secondary purpose.

We discovered the first just as we approached the garden itself and so we could enjoy it from outside the garden and within. Water rose up a water ladder from the stream beneath to be released into the hands of gravity thus sending water spewing from the mouth of a stone gargoyle.

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Through a structure of willow rather than stone we moved on to discover further eccentric buildings including a glass bottle igloo, towers and shelters.

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To give you an idea of the feel of the garden and the quality of the planting and structure I thought I would finish this post about Westonbury Mill Water Gardens with a selection of broad shots taken as we wandered its many winding paths.

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What a lovely atmospheric garden this is! Full of interest and full of interesting plants and features.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A beautiful wildlife garden in Herefordshire

Today we travelled further than we usually do for our regular visits to NGS gardens and made our way southwards through South Shropshire and down through Herefordshire to a tiny village near Ross-on-Wye. Even the approach to this garden was special as we left the temporary car park in a farmyard and followed a narrow track through a narrow band of woodland down towards the cottage and its garden. The description in the NGS Yellow Book promised a great afternoon out in a quirky cottage garden created for wildlife and managed organically. We were not to be disappointed in any way!

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We found a steep driveway as we left the woodland shade and slowly made our way down it to the cottage below passing floriferous meadows all the way. We were delighted to see orchids in with more common meadow flowers.

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We paid our entry fees and met the gardener who like us loved peaceful gardens full of wildlife especially. As we spoke I noticed this little selection of artifacts found in the garden. It was to set the tone for the day.

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As we slowly ambled along the many meandering softly surfaced paths we kept one eye on the plants and another on the look out for more artifacts and sculptural pieces. We first found this perky looking pig! We found many more varied pieces to amuse, appeal and amaze.

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This was a garden that invited us to wander and explore its many paths, to discover its calm and restful character. It succeeded in doing what we hope our garden does, to make you feel calm and contented. The planting was gentle and brought to mind the writings of William Robinson, especially how he expressed his philosophy of gardening in his book, The Wild Garden.

We shall now take a wander around this lovely gentle garden by following the pics in this gallery. As usual just click on the first picture and use the navigation arrows.

This was such a beautiful garden which welcomed other gardeners and wildlife alike, and was so full of atmosphere. We hope we are able to return one day in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Croft Castle – month by month – the final report

Illness has prevented us making our monthly visit to Croft Castle where I would take photographs and report back about all that is going on in the gardens of this Herefordshire property run by the National Trust. Thus this final visit for the year took place in early December and will be a joint report for November and December together.

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