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Pont Faen – another lock down garden in Powys

We visited another NGS garden in Powys as we continued our way through lock down, this time the garden was on the edge of the town of Knighton. Pont Faen was owned and garden by a retired farmer and his wife.

The garden wrapped around the house and had a colourful collection of alstroemeria, several roses, dahlias and many bright coloured patches of rudbeckias.

   

All these collections of colourful plants were scattered around a garden of lawn and large sweeping borders, which allowed us to see large parts of the garden at the same time.

The gardeners here have a wonderful use of foliage either in clumps of species together such as these hostas or integrated into borders as a foil for the flowering plants.

Another interesting garden visit to help cheer us up while locked down – so enjoyable!

 

 

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Houghton Lodge Hampshire

While down in Hampshire last September we enjoyed a day out exploring the grounds of Houghton Lodge an 19th century fishing lodge built in a style similar to the later Arts and Crafts style. It is a uniquely beautiful white building surrounded by sweeping striped lawns and fascinating grounds running down to the clear running River Test.

As we took a walk along the banks of a short stretch of the Test a lone trout fisherman cast his fly from the opposite bank hoping in vain for a fish to rise and take his fly. The water was so clear and the stringy water weeds flowed with the water over its stone and sand river bottom giving us the occasional fleeting glimpse of a brown trout.

We were fascinated to find two collections of plants in the walled garden, hostas and dahlias.

   

But there was far more of interest throughout the gardens here, so here are a few photos of other borders and garden cameos. This proved to be a great find!

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Simply Beautiful – 5 – purple and gold

We enjoy growing Hostas in all shapes, sizes and colours many in the garden and almost as many in pots. We simply love them! We often reach the time when we think we have room for no new ones. Until! Until we spot a special one that calls to us!

Our latest member of the Hosta family to join us is called H. Purple Heart. It had beautiful rich apple green leaves but the what made this Hosta special was the purple colour of its leaf stalk and central vein.

In the autumn the plant becomes totally different. Simply beautiful! The beauty is short lived as the autumn foliage soon rots and the glossy purple stems soon follow. All we have then is a pot topped off with its grit.

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My Garden Journal in May

Just as I completed my journal for June I realised that I had not yet posted “My Garden Journal for May”, so here it is now for you to enjoy! The June journal report won’t be far behind!

Summer creeping in can only mean that our May garden is changing by the day. Exuberance in every border with things growing before your eyes. A month of excitement! I began my May entry in my garden journal by writing,

“May means exuberance! It is the month when our garden shows us the ability it has to surprise. It shows off its strength and its artistic talents. Growth is so rapid and colour so exciting, that we are aware of what our garden means to us and also aware of its power that Mother Nature possesses and uses with pride and to excess!”

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I then turn to looking back at my original garden journey recording the first few years that we have lived and gardened at Avocet.

“Looking back in my garden journal that recorded the early years at Avocet, I read a paragraph that shows just how similar May is now. 

“The garden is bursting with life – butterflies including Holly Blues, bees and so many birds. Suddenly the garden is alive with birds giving extra colour, sound and movement. There seems to be so many finches – Goldfinches, Chaffinches and Greenfinches. Swifts, Swallows and House Martins swoop overhead especially in the evening.”

Sadly though there are far fewer Swifts, Swallows and House Martins overhead. So many have not survived their long migrations. What does the future hold for these beautiful acrobats?”

Turning over the page of my journal and we see the next two pages feature Acers and Roses.

“Acers are one of the many stars of the May garden, a month when their foliage and stems are delicate and colourful.”

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“May means Roses and by the middle of the month we have many buds and pioneer blooms. Reds and pinks dominate at the moment. Yellows and oranges are still to come.”

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I moved on to look at one of the climbers we enjoy in our garden and at the grasses that have now started to grow rapidly.

“Think of climbers early in the summer garden and Clematis is the first plant to spring to mind.”

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“Grasses are growing quickly now and the myriad shades of green move skyward in our borders.”

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Turning over again and succulents are discussed. These are a recent interest and I have only been growing them and propagating them for a few years.

Succulent plants are an interest that has grown over the last few years. Beginning with Aeoniums and Echeverias I soon branched out.”

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“Troughs of succulents grace the Rill Garden in May and on into October when the risk of frost mean that they retreat to the warmth of our greenhouse.”

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When we turn over next we see that I talk of Hostas and in particular those growing in our Bog Garden. The bog garden is so full of life at the moment with plants growing appreciably by the day.

“Hostas are one of the more subtle of our garden favourites both their foliage and later in the year their flowers. The Bog Garden next to our Wildlife Pond and snuggled up to it is a place of rapid growth in May.”

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White is not a colour I particularly appreciate in the garden and as a result I do not use it much.

“White is not my favourite colour in the garden. I particularly do not like white painted garden furniture or white painted fences, trellises or walls. We tend to paint our seats in ivory or cream which are much softer colours particularly on bright sunny days. Our fences we paint in browns and trellis work in gentle shades of green which acts as a great foil for our plants. I think this dislike of white is to do with our weather as it can work so well in other countries. Where flowers are concerned I appreciate them most in May when white can look good with the brightness of fresh foliage. Below are photos of a few particularly good white flowers, Viburnums, Cornus, white Bluebells, Iberis and Camassias. Some of these are the purest of white where others have gentle hints of colour. The Camassia has a green tint to it and the Iberis the gentlest hint of pink.”

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As we leave May behind we can look forward to the longest day, the time when day and night share equal number of hours.

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Green on Green

Garden designers often talk about colour contrasts such as blues and yellows and about how important green is as a foil for other colours. but what about two shades of green working together. Just think of the fronds of vivid green ferns bursting out from the green paddle leaves of the hosta. in her book entitled “The Gardener’s Pallette” the American garden writer Sydney Ellison wrote “In nature, green is the colour of life” and “It is the colour that makes fewest demands on the human eye.”  In most gardening books green is discussed as a foil for other colours and rarely considered as important in its own right.

I searched through photos I have taken this year that featured green for its own sake not merely acting as a foil. Here follows a selection. They prove how powerful greens are!

The grass, Hakanechloa macra , moves slowly like waves in the slightest breeze and here in Neil Lucas’ garden, look great as a sea of green for a specimen tree to burst out of. The plain green Hakanechloa often looks better than its variegated cousin but is rarely seen for sale. It deserves more recognition.

Neil’s use of the simple green sheet of grass under a tree displays brilliant design skills. This photo is the absolute opposite – an accidental paring of two contrasting greens – where a pure bright green apple has dropped onto a neatly clipped box hedge in a potager.

The first photo illustrated how a gardener used green so effectively, the second how an accident can produce beauty in greens and the above one shows how Mother Nature does it. Rather well methinks!

The above photo must illustrate the ultimate “green on green” border, gentle on the eye and so satisfying. Looking at green as a key colour in the garden now on the first day of winter makes you feel better. Just think of all the green we can look forward to!