Every year in February we follow our usual walk around the grounds of Attingham Park, a National Trust property just a half hour drive away. What makes this February walk different is the thousands of snowdrops growing happily beneath beautiful mature trees.
Another unusual aspect of our walk was the amount of standing water around, including flooding from the river that runs through the parkland.
An extra feature this year was a display put on by the local WI (Women’s Institute) all knitting and different forms of fabric craft. The pieces were displayed on the trees and on lengths of woolen yarn strung between trees and were created to highlight the plight of our planet, caused by climate change issues.
We particularly liked our first sighting of the signs of spring!
Following on from our seasonal autumn visit to our smaller garden for 2019 we took a drive up to north Wales to wander around our larger garden, Bodnant Gardens. Join us as we enjoy the signs of the new season on its trees and shrubs.
Within the first ten minutes wandering we had discovered so many interesting plants and plant combinations. We were slowly making for the Winter Garden, one of our favourite parts of the garden. A first for us was a wall trained Gingko biloba which was really striking, as were the glossy indigo berries on this Dianella.
Of course The Winter Garden excels in its season but puts on a pretty good show in the autumn too.
From The Winter Garden we wandered through the open woodland towards the Acer Glade. All along the way trees were warming up the day with their hot coloured foliage and with some the added splash of colour provided by berries. I hope you enjoy my short gallery of photos below.
The woodland paths of gravel and sometimes grass led us to the predominately orange and red Acer Grove, which was busy with photographers and grandparents escorting their grandchildren picking up selections of their favourite leaves, natural jewels of the glade floor.
We left the Acer Grove and made towards the stream which we crossed by a wooden bridge and went upwards into the wooded slope of the dingle, so that we could wander along the many paths and look down into the dingle itself. We found more acers and other colourful deciduous shrubs below the giant conifers. Follow our journal be enjoying this gallery.
And so our day of wandering around the wonderful gardens at Bodnant came to an end, but as usual as we walked towards the gate we had a look at the Hot Garden alongside the stone wall. There is always something worth a second glance here whatever month we visit.
Perhaps one more visit to our other garden Wildegoose to go and if tempted another to Bodnant before the year is out!
Biddulph Grange north of Stoke-on-Trent, is a garden we re-visited this week after decades. We remembered it to be a garden created by the imaginative Mr Bateman who made a garden of several different rooms. Egypt, China, the Dahlia Walk, The Stumpery and two avenues one featuring Lime trees the other Western Red Cedar. This time we visited the gardens with our friend Pam who we know from college 40 years ago. So we were catching up a friend and a garden!
Please come with us for a wander round by following my gallery. Just click on the first photo and then navigate using the arrows.
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.
I promised a few reports on our planned visits to Bodnant Garden in North Wales so we are pleased to share our visit in early spring, a day with the most perfect weather possible to make our exploration a good one.
Warm, calm and blue skies! We stayed over nearby to make sure we had time to wander slowly around this large garden at a leisurely pace, the only way to appreciate a garden so full of interesting plants.
After parking up we soon spotted a bank of little blue bulbs which we thought were possibly Scilla. As we entered the garden itself we came across this informative and attractive sign prepared by the head gardener giving us ideas of what was looking good in the garden.
Our visit coincided with the height of the flowering seasons for Magnolias, Rhododendrons and Camellias as well as spring flowering bulbs and the earliest of perennials, so we were in for a colourful day’s exploration. Bodnant is a garden designed to present choices where paths fork and cross.
We made our way to the Winter Garden, one of our favourite parts of the garden, a place so full of ideas for anyone to use to add winter interest to their own patches.
We then found a gateway that took us into a field of daffodils, simple old cultivars, creating a peaceful place to wander slowly and take in the atmosphere of this special space.
We strolled through the field slowly and then made our way down to the top of the Dell. The gallery that follows shares this part of our time at Bodnant. In part 2 we shall wander along the dell and then back up the long slope to explore the areas around the hall.
Instead of my usual series of posts where we visit the same garden every month of the year, we have decided to look at two gardens one large and one small. This is because it is impossible to find another good garden that is open all year and easy to get to.
For the big garden we have chosen the National Trust’s Bodnant Garden in North Wales which we shall look at over the seasons and for the small garden we have chosen Wildgoose Garden and Nursery closer to home here in Shropshire which we shall visit each month during its open season.
To start this series I am going to look back at a visit we made to Bodnant back in May 2018 to give an idea of its beauty.
A final day out on our Anglesey holiday was to visit the gardens at Bodnant just slightly inland from the North Wales coast. It is a garden we have visited and enjoyed many times before and at all times of the year. The one strength of the garden is that is has so many different faces to be discovered and enjoyed.
In recent years a rectangular border alongside a tall stone wall has changed completely becoming a hot border, full of flowers and foliage the colours of fire. On a sunny day they really light up.
Directly opposite and in complete contrast is a formal area of low trimmed hedges holding together borders of tulips.
The Winter Garden at Bodnant is one of the best in the UK, and although superb in its special season, the winter, it is still an interesting garden in the summer.
The narrow gravel paths take us into the shady areas beneath mature deciduous trees. Bluebells added a blue mist to the rich green grassed areas.
What many visits make the journey to Bodnant for are the bright clashing colours of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias. We however are not great fans of these acid loving bloomers, but here are a few shots for those who do.
An area of Bodnant gardens we have rarely reached over the years because of my mobility problems is the deep steep-sided valley with tall trees towering over a beautiful sparkling stream which meanders along its length. After recent surgery I can now manage to get down to this magical dingle. The magical atmosphere is created by the huge trees that tower above visitors who wander the gravel paths along the valley running close to a clear mountain stream, and on the banks beautiful bog and water loving plants grow happily. Primulas, hostas, ferns and Skunk Cabbage add colour and texture to the scene.
No doubt it won’t be long before this great garden is featured in another of my greenbenchramblings posts as we usually wander around its Winter Garden early in the year.
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!
While on a week’s break in Cornwall we decided to try a coastal walk and also decided that the day to do it would be the anniversary of my surgery to rebuild my right leg. Before my surgeon performed this complex 5 hour operation I was able to walk a few hundred yard at a struggle and in pain, so I was determined to see what I could do exactly a year on.
We had a great coffee and brownies at a beach cafe and took off. Immediately the path went steeply uphill and we could soon look back to the town we had left from, Portreath.
We had not been to Cornwall for years and quickly remembered just how beautiful the coast line is, with every step giving us breathtaking views.
We took regular breaks for drinks of water and a close look at our walk map. We stopped or slowed all the time simply to take in the beauty of the landscape we were walking through and to check up on my newly rebuilt right leg! Just after this particular stop we were entertained by a pair of Kestrels hunting as a duo team playing and following their instincts. We walked alongside them as companions for a good half mile enjoying their antics and acrobatics before they finallyy turned away.
A seriously steep sided couple of valleys were our hardest challenge of the walk. The first we had to zigzag down sometimes using steps cut into the valley side to climb the steepest sections. A fallen plank bridge, the only way to cross a deeply cut stream, meant a scramble to get across the trickling water. It was a great relief to get over and begin the ascent. The second valley side was a walk along steep stone tracks.
We met a couple of brothers sharing a walk who stopped to talk and were fascinated to meet us with me tackling this long difficult walk with a walking stick. They asked if we would like our photo taken, a suggestion we accepted readily. They were great to talk to and gave us chance to catch our breath too.
The half way point was at Derrick Cove, our signal to start the return leg of our walk, but not until a twenty minute rest and plenty of water. We had walked three and a half miles and knew we had the same to do to get back.
We decided to walk a slightly different way to avoid the steepest valley climb, but this meant walking along a road for a while. It meant also dropping down into Portreath from a different direction so we enjoyed different views of the town for the last few minutes of our walk.
So back at the car we felt elated but ached severely. We had such mixed emotions, but overall a sense of huge achievement was the strongest emotion of all.