Back with the next installment in this series of posts where we visit Bodnant Gardens in North Wales and Wildegoose nursery and Garden in South Shropshire. In this mid-summer visit to Bodnant we enjoyed a warm bright day wandering around this large wonderful garden on the edge of Snowdonia.
After our breakfast enjoyed in the Pavilion Cafe we wandered along the underpass that takes us below the road to the garden entrance. Even before entering the garden itself we were treated to the site of meadow planting on the banks either side of the path.
Leaving the Reception area we turned right where we enjoyed a first glimpse of one of our favourite borders of all, the long, hot wall garden.
I took so many photos that day because the light was so good and the garden so interesting, so it is best now if a share a selection of my images with you in a gallery. As usual click on the first pic and then navigate using the arrows.
We will make a return visit to Bodnant in the Autumn to see how the garden looks in that season.
So here is Part 2 of the post concerning our visit to the National Trust’s Bodnant Hall Gardens. We will explore the Dingle and then make our way back to the nursery via a route taking us by the hall itself. In Part 1 we wandered as far as the end of the Yew Walk ready to drop down into the stream valley and follow the clear, fast-moving waters.
Another important flowering shrub that attracts thousands of visitors to Bodnant at this time of year is the Camellia, with its gaudy pink or white flowers and glossy evergreen foliage. I will admit it is not a favourite of mine but here is a small selection of those we wandered by. Someone likes the flowers enough to create a little piece of artwork with them for others to enjoy.
To continuing sharing our visit to Bodnant with you, I shall share a gallery of photos taken as we wandered around the area on two sides of the hall. Click on the first photo and then navigate using the right arrow.
Just before we left the garden we walked through the hot garden alongside a tall stone wall, a border we love in the late summer when it is at its best, but on this visit we found a few interesting plants. The strongest feature was the selection of Hyacinths in an exciting range of colours from creamy yellow to nearly black. These were joined by Tulips, Anemones, Bergenias and emerging fresh growth of Euphorbia griffithii.
We had a great day out exploring these wonderful gardens, full of atmosphere and such a wide variety of different areas developed in different ways. We will return for a follow up visit in the summer.
On our return journey from Stratford afforded us the opportunity to return to explore the gardens of the National Tust property, Coughton Court, a garden we had not visited for many years, so we looked forward to seeing how our memories of the place matched up with the reality.
Coughton Court is the family home of the Throckmorton family, who continue to maintain and develop the garden and grounds as well as the house itself.
In particular, we remember the walled rose garden which is often quoted as being one of the most romantic gardens in the UK which is of course the land of romantic gardens. We could both remember this area which was full of scented roses, many old-fashioned varieties, and its beautiful statue of a female figure. I can even remember the beautifully soft subtle planting around its base of Sedum sectabile and Stip tenuissima. I hoped that planting still remained.
The introductory set of eight photos below illustrate the variety of points of interest at Coughton. They show the beauty of the buildings themselves, the rose garden, bog garden, orchards, woodland, riverside walk etc
The Throckmorton family rose garden was developed in 1966 and was designed by a Chelsea RHS Show award-winning garden designer, Christina Williams. What makes ir si special and different to traditional rose gardens is the way the roses are heavily underplanted with herbaceous perennials. The statue is of Fair Rosamund, a beauty of the 12th century and reputedly the mistress of King Henry II. The popular ancient rose, Rosa mundi was named after her and specimens are planted around the statue. The gentle planting of my memories has sadly been superseded.
There was so much to enjoy in this rose garden that it is best to look at following a gallery of photos that I took within its bounds. Click on the first photo and then navigate with the arrows.
Moving on from the rose garden and its rich sites and aromas, we found our way into a much more open space which presented a pleasant contrast to the business of the rose garden. Here a rectangular lawn was edged with herbaceous borders, planted with Gertrude Jekyl style gentle end of the spectrum plant choices. We enjoyed a slow amble among each side, appreciating the individual plants, plant combinations and the bigger picture of looking right along the length of each border.
It is always good to visit a garden with many different aspects and the gardens at Coughton Court manages to certainly provide lots of different styles of garden to enjoy. Here are few shots showing different aspects I haven’t the space to share. Enjoy!
We have held memberships of the National Trust for over 40 years and one of the first we took our two children to was Packwood Hall. Packwood is now a firm favourite and we made a visit again this year. The welcome sign describes Packwood as “a house to dream of, a garden to dream in”. We were only intending to look at the house from the outside and mainly intended to explore the garden in greater detail. Packwood is well known for its unusual collection of sundials.
The approach to Packwood is one of the most welcoming we have ever come across, passing through wildflower meadows and impressive gateways.
Once we had passed through a few of these gateways and archways we discovered colourful well-designed borders full of herbaceous perennials and roses. Much of the planting had been chosen to attract wildlife, predators and pollinators.
The gardens were well structured, divided into garden rooms with different characters and atmospheres in each. In one formal lawn area we came across a rectangular sunk garden built from limestone and its borders were planted with plants that enjoyed the dry well drained soil. These plants provided a strong contrast to the lush look of the rest of the gardens.
Lush planting was prevalent elsewhere throughout the garden making for an atmosphere of excitement. There were wonderful individual plants to be found as well as well designed borders.
A well-known aspect of the gardens at Packwood is its topiary, especially a group called the twelve apostles. Personally I found this part of Packwood rather dull but here are the photos I took to illustrate it. However I do have a soft spot for cloud pruning of hedges.
So here we are back with number ten in this series featuring our wanderings and discoveries as we walk around the pathways of our local National Trust property, Attingham Park. As intimated in my September “Walk in the Park” posting, Jude the Undergardener pushed me around in a wheelchair following my leg surgery so the photographs will be from an unusual viewpoint. But we did manage the walk to the walled garden and returned via the One Mile Walk.
We were surprised that autumn had not advanced as much as we had anticipated, with many trees still carrying their full contingent of leaves. The walled garden was still very colourful.
Fungi was still in evidence and fallen leaves looked less brightly coloured.
There were frequent signs of the destructive forces of the wind and the more controlled hand of the gardeners working on tree surgery tasks.
The gateway into the walled garden welcomed us into a colourful magical place.
We were really surprised and delighted to find this beautifully presented hand painted poster celebrating the wonder of the apples in the Attingham Park orchard.
Humour is an essential of a good garden but so often missing. Just look at what a gardener here has created to make the visitor smile.
We can complete our journey now by looking at the photos I took as we returned along the riverside path back to the stable block.
Next visit here will be in November – I have no idea if I will still be wheelchair bound by then or not. Fingers crossed!
As summer moved on we made our August visit to Attingham Park for our monthly walk in the park. We decided to follow the Mile Walk in reverse for a change of view and as we were expecting rain later in the afternoon we kept to the shortest trail that we take. This turned out to be a wise decision because the rain started to fall when we had just a 5 minute walk back to the carpark. Our luck was in!
When we arrived we struggled to find a parking space as it was so busy being a mid-summer weekend afternoon but we found out later that it was also weekend when a special event was taking place, a Family Spectacular.
We decided to follow the One-Mile Walk in the opposite direction than the way we usually take and indeed against the signs. We are always amazed how following a path through a garden or the countryside in a reverse direction presents whole new experiences.
What struck us most as soon as we started the walk was the way the texture of tree bark was standing out. This mighty conifer was right at the start of our walk and showed it perfectly.
We also began to identify the shape of eyes on tree trunks where side boughs had fallen or been removed. This can be seen below in that same tree.
I will now share my texture photos with you in the form of a gallery and we can look at how much variety of texture and pattern we managed to find.
The almost circular scars left as a bough breaks away from the main trunk often form eye-like shapes, and on this walk we seemed to see so many. Enjoy a little selection below.
As we searched tree trunks for “eyes” we began to find other shapes and colours as well, some from Lichens and some created by the hands of woodsmen or gardeners. I will leave it up to you to work out how these creations happened.
An added and very unexpected element to our August visit was the discovery of painted stones. This stone decorated with a beautiful little flower we found in a scar of a tree and wondered what it was doing there. We soon discovered the answer by turning the stone over where we were advised to check out “Shropshire Stones” on Facebook. If you want to know more check it out.
Continuing on the creative front we made another interesting surprise discovery as we wandered through the children’s playing field on our way to the orchard and walled garden.
The Walled Garden was so colourful with the main feature being the flowers. We will look at the surprise in the playing field and the walled garden in Part 2.
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.
Back here at the wonderful Welsh gardens at Bodnant, we will finish our little series of 3 posts as we take you down the path that contains the colourful collection of Acers and then drops down into the steep sided valley to follow the clear, fast stream.
We were disappointed to find that the grass paths that we have in the past followed to seek out and enjoy the bright fiery colours of Acers at Bodnant, was blocked off to protect the worn out grass. We did find a way to see the Acer Glade from an alternative track so we couldn’t get up as close and personal. They were still great though!
We shall share our adventures exploring “The Dell”, the deep valley cut by the powerful stream, the Afon Hiraethlyn by creating a gallery of photos shared in the order taken.
That is it for our visit to the National trust property in North Wales, Bodnant Gardens. Perhaps we can do it all over again in a different season and see what we can find then.
In the first post about our day visit to the Bodnant Gardens not far inland from the coast of North Wales we looked at the special magical nature of the low November sunlight. But there was a lot more for us to enjoy as we explored in a different direction than we usually take as autumn repair work on the grass paths and lawns prevented us following where our footsteps normally tread. This of course paved the way for new discoveries and fresh views.
The plant that we got really excited about was this beautiful deciduous Euonymus dripping with a full crop of berries which in turn were dripping with fine droplets of rain. Euonymus alata “Compactus” bravely combines the darkest possible ruby red almost purple fruits from which burst bright tangerine orange seeds and it looked wonderful. The younger berrying branches sported bright green coats in strong contrast to the older wood, coloured brown and strongly winged with corky ridges giving the whole bush an extravagant look. It also boasts fiery red foliage in the autumn and strangely its weakest point are the flowers which are small and a rather insignificant green in colour.
This exciting shrub had a lot of competition where catching the eyes of the visitors was concerned.
We love making new discoveries and on this visit to Bodnant we came across some fruit on a shrub which we could not remember having ever seen before and had no idea what it could be, with its tiny acorn-like fruits in two shades of orange. It looked if it would appear a rather dull evergreen shrub for most of the year but it must have flowers at some time which I would guess would be white.
Back to our explorations! So, moving away from the Winter Garden, Jude and I followed gravel tracks which crunched beneath our feet, the sounds of which softened only where we had carpets of fallen leaves to paddle through. We moved into more open areas where we could appreciate views of large specimen trees in the distance as well as beautifully textured and coloured perennials right under our noses.
Trees in November show off their strong networks of boughs, and judicious pruning of the lower leaves by skilled garden staff add extra power.
It wasn’t all foliage and tree trunk texture though, there were still late flowering perennials shining through contrasting strongly with the colours of autumn.
Here we are back with a new selection of interesting and unusual garden seats, our 11th collection.
To start with I will share with you a selection of garden seats we discovered in the wonderful huge gardens at Bodnant, a National Trust Property in North Wales and then move on to another of their properties but this time much nearer home in the West Midlands, Hanbury Hall. All these seats were discovered within a week in November. We hope you enjoy the selection we have chosen for you.
These three simple slate benches are beautifully placed matching their background of strata slate layers and the grey stone paving. They look very different whether they are wet or dry. They are pale greys when dry but much darker and glossier when wet. Their chunky design fits their place so well.
Inside the garden we wandered through the new Winter Garden and down towards the dingle, a wooded steep valley with a stream running through it. All the seats were quite ordinary designs manufactured from wood, including one that is reminiscent of an Edwin Lutzen’s design, but they were made special by their placements either raised up, surrounded by harmonious plantings and all giving beautiful views across the garden. These view points allowed us to look at close up garden plantings, larger borders or even long views along the valley or over tree tops.
These last two pics show seating deeper in wooded areas and illustrate how well seats sit in their environment when manufactured in the natural material of the place itself. Special secretive seating where birdsong shares the space with you.
Again the seats at Hanbury were often very simple and ordinaary in design but they are situated in very special places, special buildings, within special planting.
So we have shared with you our selection of garden seats that we enjoyed in November. We hope you enjoyed sharing them with us. We enjoyed trying most of them out!