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The Dingle Garden in July

Moving into the second half of the year, we wandered around the gravel paths of the Dingle Garden in late July. The day was dry with mixed clear skies with occasional cloud, but no rain came from them.

We immediately discovered the severe effects of this summer’s dry and hot temperatures. A mature conifer was turning shades of purple and brown as it was suffering from lack of water. Although colourful this was devastating for the tree. Elsewhere on the sloping parts of the garden the shrubs looked perfectly healthy and we enjoyed some great foliage contrasts and combinations.

  

Orange is a wonderfully effective colour for woodland planting, as flowers in this colour glow in the deepest shade and are caught by the sun. Yellow comes a close second!

  

Flowering shrubs are now coming into their own in the Dingle Garden, with Hydrangeas taking centre stage.

  

This is just a selection of the Hydrangeas putting on their show of blues, whites and pinks beneath the trees. We loved the variations in colour on individual flower heads.

    

Ferns look good almost the year through, but in the damp woodland atmosphere here at the Dingle they shone with health.

   

Herbaceous perennials appear in a few places beneath the trees and shrubs with Geraniums, Hemerocallis, Persicarias and Lysimachias showing well in the July garden.

     

Sometimes it is the little details that catch the eye when we explore gardens. On this visit to the Dingle Garden Jude was attracted to the moss hitching a lift in the fork of a Prunus. The purple spires of the Acanthus looked just right next to the sculpture of the Red Kite.

 

The real star of the July show was Cotinus coggygria with its deep red foliage with hints of glaucous blue and the smokey flower clouds.

So we will return next in August and see what late summer brings to the Dingle.

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autumn autumn colours colours flowering bulbs garden design garden photography gardening gardens hardy perennials light light quality Shrewsbury Shropshire shrubs

My Garden Journal – September

So, here we are back taking a look into my Garden Journal 2017 at the entries I made during September. Within the first double page spread I looked at a few hot coloured perennials and shared a favourite quotation from designer, Dan Pearson.

I started off by writing, “September is a favourite month of mine in our garden because it is the time when our grasses peak and hot colours of late perennials get blazing and burning against pale clear blue skies”.

   

Dan Pearson, probably the world’s leading garden designer, wrote in his book “Natural Selection, a Year in the Garden”, “The light is never more beautiful than it is now, sliding into the garden at an ever-increasing angle to tease out the detail………. Rosy-faced apples weigh down branches and lazy wasps have the remains of the plum harvest. Sunflowers will never be taller, berries are hanging heavy on the once-blooming roses, and the butterflies which have had a hard time of it this summer, are making the most of the asters and the last heat of the sun.”

As long as the weather remains mild and calm then our predatory insects and pollinators remain busy taking advantage of every possibility  as they sense the onset of autumn.

Over the page I continued by considering two very special small-flowered plants. I wrote,

“September sees two small-flowered plants with very unusual flower structures. Both are striking little plants and neither are fully hardy for us.” I was referring to “Commelina dianthifolia” and “Lotus maculatus “Gold”.

“Commelina dianthifolia is commonly known as “The Bird Bill Dayflower”. The electric blue flowers are enhanced byits bright green stamens. Although our Commelina flowers for months during the summer, each flower lasts only a few hours.”

  

“Lotus maculatus “Gold” displays flowers looking like gold and red lobster claws. Its foliage is of delicate blue”needles” and hangs beautifully over the edge of the terra-cotta pot it shares with an orange Osteospermum and a striking grass, newly renamed Anemanthele lessioniana. The Lotus is commonly known as “Pico de Paloma” or “Parrot’s Beak”. Although a tender perennial we have to treat it as an annual and sow it every year.”

   

Over the next page I began to show how we are re-building a garden, not by choice but out of necessity.

“We planned to revamp the Freda Garden this Autumn and change it more into a shady area featuring colourful Hydrangeas. However as we suddenly had to fit a new oil storage tank we decided to put it up in this bed. So we got to work clearing plants more urgently than we had expected.” 

“Any plants to be replaced in the same border were potted up while others were moved elsewhere.”

  

“Within a week the border was cleared of its plants except for a Cornus mas at one end and a Ribes odoratum at the other, and the oil storage tank in place. Quick work!

 

“The next task was to plan our renewed bed, decide the sort of plants to use and work out a system of screening the new oil tank. We decided that as the border was mostly shaded or semi-shaded we would plant flowering shrubs such as Hydrangea and Viburnum with shade-loving herbaceous underplanting.”

As we move to the next double page, I will begin to share the plants we discovered as we searched for suitable candidates

“We have room for a couple of trees at the back of the border – so far we have got one very special tree ready to plant. Heptacodium miconiodes is an elegant tree with peeling bark, fragrant white flowers that are attractive to useful wildlife and attractively curled leaves. It will be such a wonderful addition to our tree collection.

To grace the ground beneath our new tree we have a collection of Pulmonarias chosen for their early flowering and finely coloured and marked leaves. We will also plant an Anemone, grasses and ferns with a selection of Viburnum and Hydrangea. Now we need to prepare the soil for fresh planting and plant the plants.”

   

Three Hydrangeas, pink, white and blue.

  

Viburnum nudum, Anemonopsis macrophylla and Panicum  virgatum “Squaw”.

  

Next I shall look at some wildlife visitors who share our Plealey garden, and get out my watercolours, brushes and fine felt pens.

“I will try to paint two wildlife visitors to our September garden, one a moth and the other a cricket, very different creatures but both beautiful to look at and observe as they move around the garden borders. One is resident, the Oak Bush Cricket and the other an occasional visitor, the Hummingbird Hawk Moth.”

“The Hawk Moth is attracted to our Centranthus ruber plants which we grow in several borders, but our cricket will be attracted to our apple trees.”

On the opposite page I record the visit of a beautiful dragonfly to our garden. Over the summer months on any sunny warm day there is a good chance of us spotting a dragonfly or damselfly hatching from our wildlife pond or resting almost anywhere in the garden. This particular dragonfly had alighted on a shrub close to the house itself and was enjoying a spot of sunbathing, absorbing the rays. “Mother Nature is so god at giving us gardeners some wonderful surprises. We discovered this beautiful creature on a shrub far from any water. It is a female Southern Hawker. The markings and colours are like no other. It is hard to imagine why it sports these patterns. She will return to our pond to lay her eggs in the rotting logs that edge it.”

   

We can now turn over to another double page spread where dew highlights some natural creativity and three small flowered Clematis flower brightly.

As September moved on we began to notice dew on the grass and plants in the borders several mornings each week. One special effect this has is the way it highlights the handiwork of our garden spiders. It is good to see so many webs as we like to have spiders working as predators in the garden for us. On one particular morning the dew was so heavy that it was weighing down the webs heavily.

   

“We have three very delicate Clematis flowering in our Avocet patch this month, all with small  flowers but very different from each other. They share the same colour purple on their petals with white-yellow centres.”

“Clematis Little Bas”

 

“Clematis aromatica”

  

“Clematis Arabella”

 

Another Clematis features overleaf, this time a yellow flowered one matched with some pencil crayon sketches of some seed heads.

“Staying with Clematis I will now look at a very delicate and unusual yellow-flowered cultivar, Clematis serratifolia “Golden Harvest”. The centre of each flower contrasts strongly with the golden petals. The central area features deep yellow, a touch of orange but mostly a deep purple-maroon colour. “Golden Harvest” is often sold as a Golden Wedding Anniversary gift. That surely would be a gift to give years of pleasure to any gardeners.”

Now we move on to look at a couple of my coloured pencil sketches of seed heads found in our September garden. “Two more seed heads discovered in our borders, with slender stems and bell-shaped seed capsules coloured biscuit and rust.”

I moved on next to look at two of our larger plant collections which feature strongly in our September garden. “Two of our largest plant collections we grow at Avocet are Crocosmias and Persicarias, both of which look at their best in late summer moving into autumn. 

Crocosmias appear in every shade of yellow, orange and red and thus add cheer to our patch.”

“Crocosmias feature in virtually every one of our borders.”

         

“Varieties of Persicaria amplexicaulis also feature on most of our borders fitting in with most styles of planting, being equally at home in Prairie planting, gravel garden, herbaceous borders and wherever they grow they enhance their border partners.”

          

These two collections of hardy herbaceous perennials brings the month of September to an end. The next visit to my garden journal will be in October

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The Place for Plants – East Bergholt Place Gardens

As we move towards the end of February it seems a good time to share with you a visit we made to a beautiful garden in the summer.

The gardens at East Bergholt Place, otherwise known as “The Place for Plants” was one of our chosen gardens to visit when we spent a few days down in Suffolk. It is situated in the Stour valley on the border between the counties of Suffolk and Essex. We had high expectations of the gardens as they are affiliated to the Royal Horticultural Society, usually a guarantee of a garden well worth a visit. The garden includes an arboretum and the National Collection of deciduous Euonymus, my favourite family of shrubs.

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East Bergholt is a garden with a calm atmosphere full of peacefulness and contentment. Just to walk its grass paths seeking out specimen trees and shrubs makes the visitor feel calm.

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Varieties of Cornus kousa with their showy bracts add patches of colour beneath the collection of unusual mature trees.

Cornus kousa “White Dusted”

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Cornus kousa “Satomi” with its pink bracts.

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Down in the valley bottom a string of  small lakes provided good habitats for a collection of Hydrangeas which grew beneath a large specimen of the Wing Nut Tree, Pterocarya fraxinifolia, a member of the Walnut family, with its long green “catkins” growing up to 60cm long.

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Wandering back towards the nursery and cafe we came across a lush valley with a stream winding its way through, its richly planted banks.

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We always enjoy finding quality pieces of sculpture placed carefully and shown to their best advantage and this figure was situated close to the stream in the short-mown grass.

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The brightest plant of all was this orange Tiger Lily, looking so fresh amongst the lush rich greens of the trees and shrubs.

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I would like to finish off with a selection of photos illustrating the variety of plants beginning with a couple of interesting trees followed by other flowering plants found throughout the Place for Plants at East Bergholt.

An Aesculus in full flower,

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Staphylea pinnata,

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and Nyssa sylvatica “Wildfire”.

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Definitely a place for plants!

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Simply Beautiful 1 – delicacy in the border.

Sometimes the simplest of things are the most beautiful!

Take one twig!

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Pink leaf petioles.

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A single flower from the complex head of an Hydrangea sitting on a leaf.

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I will be looking out for more such simple beauties and sharing them with you from now on. My new challenge for my Nikon lens!

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The Dorothy Clive Garden in June

It is half way through the year and also through our monthly visits to the Dorothy Clive Gardens. When we arrived at the gardens for our July visit we noticed signs for a vintage tea party and vintage fair. So we had a little extra to enjoy.

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The Dingle Garden which was so colourful on earlier visits had waned but still had a few points of interest. We were surprised to see several plants in flower but extra amazed by the beauty of the selection of Lilium martigon and Hydrangeas.

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I think the best way to share our June visit to the Dorothy Clive Gardens will be to present a gallery so that you can share our wanderings. As usual just click on the first image and navigate using the arrows.

So there we have it, the Dorothy Clive Gardens in June.

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autumn autumn colours colours garden photography gardening hardy perennials ornamental trees and shrubs poppies roses Shropshire shrubs Winter Gardening

My Garden Journal – November

The penultimate visit to my garden journal for this year is here already, and I write this as November comes to a close. The strong winds of November howl around the house and roar down our chimneys. The rain has persisted for virtually every day of the month along with the strong winds.

My journal for the dreary month of November began “Our wonderful, heart warming Indian Summer lasts until the very last day of October, so we waited for the first day of November hoping for the continuation of warm, bright days. The eleventh month is usually a time of mists, fog and heavy dews.”

Jenny Joseph wrote of November, “Much of November belies the dread attached to its reputation, the shutting down, the gloom, the fog, the dark wet, the cold and the colds, autumn shrinking into winter.”

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On November 1st we woke to a heavy dew, thick fog and the rest of the day was damp and dreary. The whole first week was the same. Oh dear!

Thank goodness for our garden which on the dreariest of days provided bright, colourful sparks. In every border there is a flower blooming its heart out to please us and of course any brave bees out on the wing in search of pollen and nectar.

All the photos below were taken on the same day in late November.

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I next wrote about a real favourite plant of mine, a shrubby Buddleja rarely grown but oh so beautiful! Buddleja lindleyana.

We grow an unusual Buddleja, which is still flowering this month. Buddleja lindleyana hails from china and boasts beautiful two-tone purple flowers. Racemes arch from the tip of every arching stem. Sadly it is rarely grown. I take cuttings every November to give to friends. They love it too!”

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I enjoyed painting it too!

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I took a couple of photos as well which you may like to see, as they illustrate the colour range found within the flowers.

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On the opposite page from my Buddleja lindleyana painting I have featured another special plant again rarely grown. This one though is a tree, an Acer.

“A young Acer tree is growing in our front garden. At this time of the year its leaves turn into the colours of fire. Its leaf petioles glow red. Acer pectinatum – a very special tree!”

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Turning the journal’s page over we have a mouth watering page about apples! and on the opposite page I look at our Viburnums.

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“By this time of the year we have usually harvested our tree fruit and it is safely in store. This year we are still picking apples, some varieties should have been harvested by early September.” 

I reveled in the chance to get out the watercolours and study two tasty and very colourful apples, Scrumptious and Red Falstaff which grow one either side of the green house door.

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I moved on to consider the Viburnum shrubs putting on performances in our garden this month. “Various Viburnums give Winter interest and start their show now in mid-November. Their show is a profusion of gently coloured flowers, scent and shining red and black berries.”

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More shrubs graced the next few pages too, deciduous Euonymus and a Hydrangea.

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“Our deciduous Euonymus give us so many shades of pink as they metamorphose into their Autumn personas.”

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At the bottom of this page beneath the Euonymus I just found room for a pic of the thistle-like Silybum maritimum.

“The teal-green and silver foliage rosette will give us these colours through the winter. In Spring flowering shoots will creep upwards full of promise.”

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Another all time great of the shrub world is featured on my next page in the journal, A Hydrangea that gives us flowers that change colour, foliage that changes colour and a most unusual shaped leaf for a Hydrangea. It is Hydrangea quercifolia.

I wrote of it, “Hydrangea quercifolia is giving its all in the garden with white flowers turning pink and then finally rust. Autumn turns its leaves from bright apple green through to ruby red.” 

Its name gives a clue to its leaf shape as quercifolia means simply “oak leaved”. Our specimen has an extra attribute in that in Summer on humid days it emits a sweet honeyed scent. As far as I know they are not supposed to be graced with scent of any kind let alone one so special.

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My last double page spread is all about Persicarias, a really useful perennial for any garden with hints of the new perennial movement or a nod towards the Prairie style planting. We love both these styles so we grow several different ones.

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“A plant that gives us great pleasure in the Autumn is the Persicaria. We grow one type for its flowers and seed heads and another for its incredibly coloured and marked foliage. Persicaria amplexicaulis have poker-like flowers in various shades of red, pink and white followed by chocolate coloured seed heads.”

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“Persicaria virginata gives us wonderfully coloured and unusual marked foliage with the addition of tiny white flowers.”

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So that is the November visit to my journal. Next month will see me fill up my lovely little “Moleskine” note book as my December thoughts, photos and paintings bring the journal to an end for 2015.

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Winter Wonderland at Dunham Massey – part two

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Welcome back to the National Trust property Dunham Massey in Cheshire where earlier this year we enjoyed our annual exploration of their wonderful Winter Gardens. No winter flowering plant can have more presence than Cornus mas, the Cornellian Cherry.

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Better known perhaps are the Witch Hazels with their flowers of yellow, orange and red which glow like fire in the slightest brightness of the winter sun.

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Deep inside their brightest of ribbons of petals deep secrets hide, revealed only when the petals fall.

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In part one of this two part visit to Dunham Massey I shared with you my love of the biscuits and browns, the last of life from the previous seasons. Now I will share some more beautiful details in close up, using a close-up attachment on my Nikon. It really brings out the importance of structure and the richness hidden in these modest colours.

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Amazingly exactly the same colours are there to be found in the bark of a winter garden’s trees.

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On some old flowerheads from last year, especially the Hydrangeas, the dominant colour is bone white which does look good too!

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As we wandered around the Winter Garden paths which meander among the borders we kept getting glimpses of a shrub which looked to be still in its Autumn coat. We couldn’t get close enough to see what it was so before leaving we sought it out and discovered it to be a Mahonia of the japonica/bealii type but we were not sure which one and it wasn’t labeled. Below is the photo I took to show its bright “autumn” colours against the intense dark greens of surrounding evergreens.

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Naturally I must finish off this double dose of winter beauty where I began, singing the praises of white barked birches! Singing their praises through the lens of my camera!

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Hydrangeas at The Dingle Garden

The Hydrangeas at the Dingle Nursery’s Garden shone out in the darker shadier woodland sections. I am a bit particular when it comes to Hydrangeas as I like the delicately shaped and coloured lacecaps but few of the mopheads which I find too blousey. I like individual paniculatas too but again not the blousey ones. In this series of photographs all the Hydrangeas are lacecaps with the exceptions of two which are of a Hydrangea paniculata and one mophead has sneaked in as I just couldn’t believe how bright the blue colour was.

The beauty of the lacecaps is the variety of different shaped and coloured flowers and bracts that appear together on the same shrub.

These next two photographs are of the creamy pyramidal flower heads of the Hydrangea paniculata.

Finally to show that I don’t wish to upset those gardeners who love the mopheads here is that blue bloom.