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My Garden Journal 2020 – August

Back for another delve into my garden journal, this time to see what I had entered during the month of August. Enjoy sharing it with me!

I began by looking at a few of our colourful borders, “August, the traditional summer holiday month, but to us it is more a time to sit back and enjoy our garden”

Below are the four photos featured on this page.

On the opposite page white blooms are featured, “Until a few years ago I did not enjoy white plants in the garden but recently I have developed a liking for them.” The photos show “White blooms with coloured centres.”


Turning over the page are a selection of photos of some of our Hypericum inodorum shrubs, “This month several of our trees and shrubs have finished flowering and their berries are colouring up.”

Two plants feature on the opposite page to the hypericum, a lily and a fritillery, where I shared a photo and an i-Pad sketch.

The next collection of plants to be featured are daylilies or hemerocallis, of which we have over thirty different cultivars. I wrote, “Our collection of Hemerocallis adds so much to our garden, where we have planted them in virtually every border. Each individual flower lasts but one day but more keep coming to replace them. You can eat them too!”


On the page opposite I shared a watercolour painting of the beautiful Lysimachia ‘Firecracker’.

Over the page to the next double  page spread we discover photos of agapanthus on the left hand page and a little rodent visitor to our garden on the right. About agapanthus I wrote, My flowering plant of the month of August is agapanthus. We grow a collection in our gravel garden called the ‘Beth Chatto Border.”

About the rodent I wrote, “Common Shrew live throughout our patch, surviving for just one year they live heir life at speed. We see them as they rush from one border to another, not wishing to be spotted by one of our many birds of prey who frequent our garden, Kestrel, Sparrow Hawk, Owls and Merlin. We welcome shrews as they enjoy slugs and snails as snacks.”

I really enjoyed the challenge of sketching a Common Shrew using watercolour paints and fibre pens.

My journal for August finishes with more pictures of colourful plant combinations and communities we have created in our garden. “Our patch is a very colourful place in mid-summer with each border home to a variety of flowering herbaceous perennials.”

We will see my garden journal again in September.



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A Tale of Two Gardens – Part 2 – Esme’s Garden

After enjoying a couple of hours and fine refreshments at Nancy’s home town garden we drove a short way to her other garden which is dedicated to her mother-in-law, Esme.

Through a gap between two rows of terraced cottages we discovered a narrow grass pathway between hedges on one side and gardens on the other. An open gate within the hedge invited us to enter the magical world of Esme’s Garden.

We thought Nancy’s home garden was something special but what awaited us at Esme’s was simply amazing, a large beautifully designed space packed with interest. Again the planting was beautifully and thoughtfully put together and the use of foliage exceptional. A network of paths, arches and path junctions directed us around borders packed with trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials.


There were Gothic touches throughout the garden and Nancy herself had created a great folly at the bottom of the garden, which impressed us all.

There is so much to enjoy at Esme’s Garden that I think the best way to share the garden with you is to create a gallery of my photos. As usual click on the first pic then navigate using the arrows.



So now I have shared both of Nancy’s gardens with you and I now presume like me you think she is one amazing gardener. Just thinking about creating and maintaining two gardens makes me breathless!

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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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Bressingham Gardens – 2 – Using Grasses.

In this second report of our visit to the gardens at Bressingham I am going to look at the use of grasses throughout the gardens. As the batch of shots below illustrate, grasses here are beautifully integrated into the mixed borders and enhance their partners’ attributes. The grasses add movement, sound and an element of delicacy to the whole garden.

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The Bloms family created the gardens here at Bressingham not only to show the use of perennials and grasses but also coniferous evergreens. It is here they display all the many new cultivars of grasses and perennial herbaceous plants that they have bred over the decades. They also pioneered the use of island beds in garden design where for the first time herbaceous borders were designed to be seen from all around and the island beds of plantings were designed to be islands within seas of lawn.

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Grasses especially varieties and cultivars of Miscanthus are an integral part of the gardens here including the island beds. There is a large collection of Miscanthus which impressed and delighted me as it is a grass family that I love to see and love to use in our garden. It is a great multi-season group of plants.

Here are a few shots of the Miscanthus collection, but it was hard to do justice with the camera to illustrate the subtle variations in colour, height texture and growth habits of these grasses, the colours in all the different flowers and the leaf stripes and variegations.

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Using grasses in clumps, blocks, rivers and ribbons adds drama to the garden, but equally a single specimen partnered with a shrub, tree or herbaceous plant can increase the aesthetic value of both the grass and its partner.

Here are a couple of ideas seen at Bressingham using grasses in ribbons and rivers.

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We enjoyed finding effective planting partnerships involving grasses with other classes of plant.

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We came away full of new ideas and a list of Miscanthus we look forward to adding to our Avocet patch.




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Bressingham Gardens – 1 – Colour Combinations and Conifers

Jude and I have a book in which we write and keep our bucket list, or really bucket lists. We keep lists of places to visit, gardens to visit and activities to try out. We add to them throughout each year and revamp and edit them at the beginning of each new year.

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Our gardens to visit list has contained one particular garden we wished to visit for 3 or 4 years and it was in the summer of 2016 that we finally successfully got there, The Bressingham Gardens. We looked forward to seeing how they used grasses throughout the gardens and to experiencing enjoying so many beautiful herbaceous perennials. We also hoped that the on-site nursery would give us access to some unusual perennials bred at Bressingham and difficult to get elsewhere, and we particularly hoped to buy some Sea Hollies. Blooms are particularly well-known for their Achillea, Crocosmia and Kniphofia developments, such as C. Lucifer and K. Toffee Nose.

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These expansive gardens are like a calm green sea of short cut grass broken up by island beds exploding with colourful mixed plantings.

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Areas of shade are essential in any open aspect garden, and here small deciduous trees are used throughout to add small patches of shade along pathways, and most of these trees have interesting coloured foliage to add another layer of interest.

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We enjoyed the richness of warm colours working together beautifully when caught by the sunshine, and contrasting colours shining out in the borders.

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Coniferous evergreens are a special feature of the gardens as they are a particular love of Adrian Bloom one of the family who designed, maintain and own the gardens at Bressingham. Here they appear in every shade of yellow, green and blue with shapes of all sorts some extreme shape, from narrow, upright sentinels to drooping waterfalls. They also feature within the tall windbreaks planted all around the site to protect the wide ranging plantings within the gardens.

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In my next blog we will return to the gardens at Bressingham and take a look at how grasses are used to good effects. A big disappointmetn at Bressingham is that the nursery there has been sold to a massive national chain of garden centres, so the plants were the same old same old! So sad!


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Three Welsh Gardens – Part Three – A Garden of Two Halves

We visited another garden in the countryside of Powis, our neighbouring county. It proved to be very much a garden of two halves. We approached “Cil y Wennol” on foot up a gently sloping curved driveway with trees on both sides dotted around in grass. Closer to the more formal front garden there were interesting land forms with a small meadow facing the sun on an embankment. Moon Daisies shone out almost glaring in the sunshine. As you have gathered from that statement we were experiencing bright sunshine.

This Betula with its beautifully coloured peeling bark had enticed us up the long drive where we were greeted by this bank of smiling daisies.

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The front garden was a typical cottage style with interesting plants such as Astrantias, Lilies and Irises dotted throughout.

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We had now realised that we had visited this garden years ago so we were not surprised by the sudden change in the garden design that greeted us as we entered the back garden. Here the design was much more modern. It was a garden to explore slowly taking advantage of the invitations presented through good design.

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One path invited us into woodland, a relief for a while from the brightness and warmth of the sun. We were impressed by how a beautiful woodland can be created with the commonest of tree species. It proved you don’t have to have rarities to impress. Here the gardeners grew just native Birches, Rowans, Cherries and a few non-natives to add a touch of spice. A lovely atmosphere pervaded this space.

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Leaving the woodland we were again presented with several options, different paths to take with different views and different plants.

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Closer to the house a gravel area gave a completely different feel. Here were neatly trimmed conifers and Cotinus with their skirts lifted to expose twisted limbs. Soft planting among these features reflected the planting in the nearby borders.

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Moving around the side of the property we found another path to take through gap in the hedge where we discovered a swimming pool overlooked by a summerhouse.

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We walked from here along a narrow path below a wall with soft planting above, beautifully backlit by the sun.

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This was most definitely a garden of many parts beautifully linked with winding paths found through enticing arches and gaps in hedging.


Leaving the garden along the central pathway of the front cottage garden we enjoyed the view behind this wonderful gate. A great garden – it was good to return.


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Dorothy’s Delights – The Dorothy Clive Garden

Whenever we have friends and family staying with us we take them to our favourite places, usually gardens, arboreta or special patches of countryside and of course to our favourite coffee shop with the biggest most luscious cakes. If it is late summer or early autumn then we often share with them the delights of the Dorothy Clive Garden. So in September we took my brother, Graham and sister-in-law Vicky to share in the box of delights.

The garden began as a woodland garden set in a deep dell, but as the years went on it spread outwards so now much of the garden is on a gentle slope down from the dell. The dell features huge mature trees and below them plants typical of shaded places rhododendrons, azaleas and ferns.

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After half an hour in the tea shop our first port of call was the sheltered area close by, sheltered enough to allow the gardeners to take brave decisions and grow Tetrapanax, amongst other plants grown for their interesting foliage. The gardeners at this garden are masters at the art of “right plant right place”. The enclosed space here was so sheltered that tender plants thrived, including one of my favourite plants Tetrapanax. We can’t risk it in our garden with its cold wet winters. I love the texture and colour of the stems – softly furry and gingery orange – and the shape and texture of the huge palmate rough leaves.

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Another of the big leaved plants growing here in the damper areas are the Rogersias, with several different varieties thriving in the shade.

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We left the sheltered garden taking a path beneath a tunnel featuring some delicate sculpture and neatly trimmed box balls.

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As we left the covered walkway we discovered another large-leaved architectural plant, the Onopordum, with silvery jagged leaves and stems with spikes all along their edges adorned atop by similarly spiky flowers. The Goldfinches will love them when they burst!

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A new feature in this old favourite garden was an edible woodland garden. We were excited about seeing it and our anticipation was rewarded. This little shaded area under mature trees was full of atmosphere and interesting features.

We were impressed by the great insect hotels and the amazing wooden fencing found within the plants of the edible garden.

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After this we wandered off along the meandering soft grass paths around the mixed borders. Enjoy them with us.

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Part of the way round our border wanderings I spotted these lovely old chestnut gates and fences at the entrance to the kitchen garden.

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