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Seasonal Visits – Wildegoose – Winter Weekends

We were so pleased to get the opportunity to visit Wildegoose Nursery Garden this weekend a time when it is usually closed but two special “Winter Weekends” have been arranged. We arrive in fog which added so much to the atmosphere of the walled garden borders. We felt calmed by the muted sound that fog and mist gives us.

The borders were full of seed-heads of perennials and grasses and even a few rogue flowers. Tiny raindrops hung from every seed and stem, giving plants extra life.

Sometimes in gardens especially in winter it is the tiniest details that are the most beautiful, spidery stems, individual seed-heads and even out of season blooms.


Euphorbias are loved for their chartreuse, lime and lemon coloured bracts and tiny flowers but when these fall in the autumn they reveal the brightly coloured stems which brighten winter borders.

Sedum varieties have the same powerful coloured stems as their seed heads turn black and purple.

I shall share the rest of my photos below – I hope you enjoy looking at all the pics as much as we enjoyed our misty winter garden wander.

It will be a few months now before we next get the chance to explore Wildegooose Gardens and Nursery, as it stays closed now until April.

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Stone House Cottage Garden – rare plants and follies

A return visit to a garden that we have not seen for a few decades is a rare treat. We returned to Stone House Cottage Garden and Nursery as part of a day out with our Hardy Plant Society Shropshire Group friends. In the afternoon we followed up with a wander around Arley Arboretum, another place we have visited before. Both gardens open for the National Garden Scheme during the year too.

We were greeted by Stone House’s owner and gardener, Louisa Arthbutnot, who invited us to wander freely but saying she would be around to answer queries. We entered through a round tower and were soon reminded about what makes this such a special patch, interesting plants combined well and brick-built grottoes.

Entering the garden through the first folly we are given a choice of paths straight away, so enticing.

But we did not make a choice straight as we were attracted to the unusual selection of plants growing right alongside the back door of the entrance folly.


Brickwork and follies feature so strongly in the is cottage garden and enhance it in a unique way.


As we moved through the garden we discovered unusual shrubs with loose meadow-style planting beneath them.


But what makes this cottage garden stand out as being something rather special is its collection of rare and unusual plants and the way Louisa places plants in communities so effectively.


As we left the garden we all made for the nursery where many unusual plants were waiting to tempt us.





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seasonal visits to two very different gardens – mid-summer at Wildegoose nursery and gardens

We made one of our frequent visits to Wildegoose Nursery and Gardens in the middle of July on a warm bright day. We were pleased to find a new sign at the entrance to the nursery and garden, a beautiful coloured plan of the walled garden. Also new was an area of planting alongside the path to the sales hut.

This new planting reflected the planting style of much of the garden, new perennial style with thoughtful colour matching. The nursery beds also looked really colourful and inviting.

We made our way up to the top of the slope where the tea shop is situated, and we treated ourselves to a coffee and one of their special cakes. Then suitably refreshed we set about exploring this wonderful space. Every gravel pathway led to interesting plant combinations.

We will finish off sharing our visit with you via a gallery of my photos. The whole garden is an exciting example of thoughtful planting groups, sometimes pale and subdued colours others bright and red hot. To follow our tracks click on the first photo and then use the arrows to navigate. We shall return later in the year to see Wildegoose in another season.



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Seasonal visits to two very different gardens

Instead of a monthly visit to the same garden for a whole 12 months I decided to look at two gardens, one small and one large. We have already visited the large one, Bodnant Gardens in North Wales already. So here is our first visit to our chosen small garden Wildegoose Nursery and Garden here in Shropshire.

We visited on May 5th, the day that Wildegoose opens with Millichope Hall Gardens for the NGS, just as we do. Wildegoose is the restoration project of the hall’s walled garden. Here a young couple, Jack and Laura Willgoss, have set up a nursery and are developing a modern perennial style garden as well as specialising in hardy perennial violas. It is an exciting project which we love to visit often.

Our first visit for this series of posts was on May 5th, a bright day with a chilly wind but a day with great light for taking photos and enhancing the brightness of colours.

We arrived via a tall gate in the the brick walls and were immediately struck by a patch of Forget-me-nots and tulips. We soon realised that Jack and Laura had a great taste in tulip colours. These tulips complimented so effectively the strength of colours of euphorbias and wallflowers.

Throughout the garden, as we wandered and explored, little gems of plants caught our eyes like this unusual Cammassia and the strong stemmed Thalictrum “Black Stocking”.


Memories of the walled garden’s Georgian origins and its history until its demise after the two world wars appear occasionally throughout the garden, and exciting artifacts integrate into the plantings.


The teashop is wonderfully old-fashioned and is so welcoming with beautiful bone china crockery in which tasty tea is served along with home-made cakes. We found a beautifully coloured table and chairs within the garden. We are tempted to paint some of our metal furniture in that colour as it sits so comfortably in the garden.


Next here is a selection of photos taken throughout the walled garden for you to enjoy.

We finished our wanderings at the nursery. Always a good idea! Here we bought a selection of their hardy perennial violas – beautiful!

Laura and Jack’s twins always leave a surprise somewhere in the garden and today this was in the nursery beds. A nice friendly way to finish an inspirational, relaxing afternoon.

We will be back in the summer and report that exploration too.




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Return to Mark’s New Hope Gardens’ Day Lilies

Friend Mark Zennick, is well known for his wide range of Hemerocallis or Day Lilies and he has many varieties for sale at his nursery not far from Plealey. He began his love for Day Lilies while still living in his native US.

We find it by taking a lane for just three quarters of a mile to the A488 road towards Bishops Castle and Clun. After passing through the Hope Valley and the outskirts of Bishops Castle we soon found Mark’s little specialist nursery on our right. We had come to collect a particular cultivar called Alabama Jubilee and it is featured in the first photo below. We love it for the intense orange colours and the darker areas like shading. As always though we were tempted by several more, especially the dark flowered ones.


We were greeeted with a broad smile and a warm welcome, from both Mark and his trusty old Labrador. Behind him the colours of row upon row of Day Lilies stretch out away from the car park. So much colour in such a small nursery! These rows led our eyes out to the beautiful countryside surrounding the nursery.


It was so hot and bright that Jude the Undergardener used her ladybird umbrella to keep the sun off, which amused Mark. Crazy English lady! I promised to send him a photo!


We wandered very slowly up and down each row of plants making notes on the order form Mark had given us for that purpose. The list of “wants” kept getting bigger and we had to start some editing. We decided that shortening the list was such a difficult task that we would allow ourselves ten plants maximum!

There was so much choice, diffirent colours, flower shapes, habit and flwering period. Here is the selection we started off with. We eventually left with eleven plants.


Mark made us promise to return soon when even more of his special plants would be flowering. How many Hemerocallis will we be tempted by then I wonder?


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Mynd Hardy Plants – return to a favourite nursery.

Jude the Undergardener, aka Mrs Greenbench, and I are not fans of garden centres where things horticultural are disappearing under an avalanche of gifts, fancy foods, pet foods etc etc but we do love our independently run plant nurseries and have a handful of local favourites we visit when we need plants to complete new plantings or just fancy a bit of compulsive plant buying. Mynd Hardy Plants situated in Shropshire’s Corvedale ranks as a top favourite, so we thought you may enjoy coming on a visit with us. The fact that it opens for the National Garden Scheme like we do is an extra bonus.

As soon as we pull up to park the car alongside the outer wall of the walled garden we feel warmly welcome and this warmth increases as we enter through the old doorway. When we take our first steps inside smiles appear.

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Mynd Hardy Plants is not simply a nursery it is also a garden, and both aspects are worthy of a visit in their own right. But of course a simple tea shop selling home made cakes and beverages with seats overlooking the nursery and gardens is a real bonus.

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Comfy rustic seats invite us to sit and appreciate the atmosphere of the walled garden.

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It wasn’t just us enjoying our visit, there was plenty of wildlife around. We could see movement throughout the areas of rich and colourful flowering. Bees, Hoverflies and Butterflies were busily feeding on the most simple flowers, the daisies and spires in particular.

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There are so many exciting plants and complementary plant combinations at every turn and around every corner at Long Mynd Hardy Plants that the only way to share so much with you is by creating a gallery for your enjoyment. As usual click on the first photo and then navigate using the arrows.

On our last visit we spent time talking with nursery-woman Jill over coffee and cake overlooking the nursery she outlined their ambitious plans and explained what her and her husband had achieved since we last saw them.We expect these plans will be achieved and we look forward to seeing more changes as we visit in the future.

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Jill explained that when they cleared the derelict half of the old walled garden they discovered a range of ancient glasshouses and a long run of cold frames. Eventually these will be restored and will be an amazing addition to the nursery and garden. An old orchard is under restoration too and there will soon be stock beds for visitors to study as well.

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We hope you enjoyed this snapshot of a great little independent nursery and display garden as much as we enjoyed sharing it with you.



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A Real Nursery – Halecat

While in the Lakes as we drove to the gardens of Brantwood we noticed a sign to Halecat. This rang a bell loudly for us, as we had intended to seek this lovely nursery out. Halecat is an independent nursery where the owners Tom and Abi grow most of their plants from seed. We had invited Tom to come to our Shropshire Hardy Plant Group to talk to us about getting the nursery established. He brought along an amazing selection of plants for sale. So having seen the sign we planned to visit a few days later.

Halecat Nursery was rescued from dereliction by Tom and Abi. They took on an old nursery that had been closed for years and slowly the woods that surround it had encroached into the site itself. Years of hard work and dedication has returned it to a working nursery.

We followed that sign down lanes that got narrower and narrower but soon found the nursery entrance. It looked like no other nursery we had ever seen before. Blackboards were full of information, informing the visitor what was in season now, what the nursery staff were up to and any nursery news. Unusual containers were full of equally interesting plants. A large sign invited you to the self serve cafe where you made your own drinks and put your money in an honesty box. It was all very friendly and inviting. We were pleased to notice that the nursery had won a Gold Medal and Best in Show award at the recent Holker Hall Garden Festival.

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When we arrived owners Tom and Abi were busy in one of the polytunnels potting on seedlings. A large bell was hanging outside the office for customers to ring when they wanted help or wished to be served. When it rang either Tom, Abi or one of their employees soon arrived on the scene.

Looking over the site we could see that the many raised sale areas were intermingled with display gardens. It had a very lively look about it. Several prospective purchasers wandered around the gravel paths. Plants were labeled with all the information a gardener could want to know, the plants soil requirements, aspect etc as well as an accurate description of the plants. We found many plants we had never come across before so these labels were most useful.

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Our visit emphasised how much better these independent nurseries are for the real gardener compared to the modern chain garden centres. Here at Halecat there were no gifts, no pet food, no clothing sections and no outlet shops. So refreshing! And above all the staff know about plants and gardening.

As you must have guessed, we didn’t come away empty handed. We found room in the car for a few special plants. The temptation was simply too great!

We came away with Polygonum , Nepeta s, Pentstemen, a tiny Iris sibirica and an alpine Aquilegia

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Day Lilies in a Walled Garden – Mynd Hardy Plants

After opening our allotment community gardens at the weekend we felt in need of a restful day out. So Jude and I with friends Pete and Sherlie decided to visit a little nursery and garden close by. We chose what we thought would be a peaceful place and we were right.

As soon as you enter Mynd Hardy Plants in the Corvedale in South Shropshire you feel yourself relax, as the sight of so many colourful perennials reaches your eyes and an intermingling of scents seduces your nose. The new owners give such a warm welcome and it was good to hear of their plans, while the aroma of coffee and freshly baked scones took over the assault on our noses. The soppy Labrador joined in the welcome nuzzling our legs and seeking attention.

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Displays of plants in flower now and for sale in the nursery beds struck us with their rich colours. Achilleas always attract me and the display here was exceptional.

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As you can imagine we didn’t get far before the aromas coming from the tea shop area drew us away from the plants. We sat wondering how we were going to resist buying enough plants to fill the car. The rains came as we started our wanderings but it did little to dampen our emthusiasm.

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There were signs of how much work was to be done if the garden was to be restored.

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An extra treat was to come after our second tea break. We met the wonderful Day Lily specialist Mark Zennick.

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What a character! He convinced us within minutes that we loved all Hemerocallis even the bicolours and doubles that we thought we disliked strongly. I had known about his work and now I can put the face to the name. Check out the photos of just a tiny selection of his plants below and you will just begin to appreciate the vastness of his collection.

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It is always good to find a plant previously unknown to you. This little beauty struck the four of us equally and we enjoyed racking our brains to work out what it was. We were all totally wrong. When we turned to Mark for the answer we were amazed to learn it was a Lysimachia.

Naturally we came away with a lovely specimen for our own garden. And we will be back within a week or so. As we get closer to our own NGS open day we are sure to need a few specimens to fill the odd gap. Mynd Hardy Plants is the place to satisfy these needs! And of course I may take enough shots of different Hemoraccalis to create another post. Mark agreed to come and talk to the Shropshire Group of the Hardy Plant Society in the future, on the subject of Day Lilies of course, and the new owners wished to make a reciprocal visit to our gardens.

We had chosen well. Our visit had relaxed us and we felt we had made new friends. If you love Day Lilies, or if you love walled gardens or if you like independent nurseries you must go and visit. The challenge is to leave without buying a plant!

Check out the website at


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Three Welsh Gardens – Part One -Tan y Llyn – a little nursery in a woodland garden.

We ventured along narrow winding lanes into the countryside of Powys our neighbouring county across the border into Wales. We were not the only ones out travelling these lanes on a mission on this sunny afternoon. Several members of the Shrewsbury Mini-Group, part of the Shropshire Group of the Hardy Plant Society, were meeting up at a woodland garden and nursery called Tan y Llyn.

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The weather was bright. There is no better day to visit a woodland garden than a sunny one as it enhances the contrast between shade and light so well. Even the most ordinary plants such as this Cotoneaster and Yew look so good.

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Any flowers in a woodland garden shine out from the shadows.

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Dotted around Tan y Llyn are interesting objects and well-composed cameos.

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Callum Johnston the garden owner also ran a little nursery specialising in alpines and herbs and he featured many of the plants for sale within a garden around his front door where plants were grown in a selection of pots and containers. They invited close inspection as did the sales benches close by in the shade of deciduous trees.

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We were particularly drawn to this dry river bed of pebbles winding through the gravel of the driveway near the cottage’s front door. We immediately began to plan where we could try something similar out at home.

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Callum admitted to an obsession – training, twisting and pruning willow into interesting structures. He also obviously loved hedge trimming where on occasion he lets his imagination run riot.

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Callum had even trained willows to become bird feeding stations. The birds certainly liked them as did our Hardy Plant friends. Callum and his partner Brenda served us up with cream teas under the shade of trees alongside these feeders so as we reveled in our luxury teas we were entertained by the birds enjoying theirs.

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Nearby herbs grew in a terraced border and added their scent and spice to the conducive atmosphere. As with many garden owners who like to share their garden, Callum and Brenda knew how to make us feel comfortable and relaxed.

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A classic colour combination of yellow and blue attracted us. Closer to we realised that the yellow was provided by this stunning Lily.

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One effective design trick used here was the use of enticing paths and it was very well used.

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A final wander around these paths beneath and between the trees was called for after our tea and before we reluctantly left this special place in a wooded Welsh valley.

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Callum  accompanied us down the drive as he thanked us for visiting and for buying lots of plants. They were very good hosts. At the bottom of the drive we made one final discovery, another surprise conjured up by this truly unique garden. Another of Callum’s tricks with his pruners.

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BAC evening out.

A new nursery that has opened this year on the outskirts of Shrewsbury, emailed Jude, the Undergardener recently inviting members of our allotment community to visit them one evening after closing time for a tour of the nursery.

So earlier this week 20 of us arrived in the car park of “Love Plants” and gathered together anticipating an enjoyable evening talking plants. They have a very classy sign!

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Susan spotted an interesting plant before she even reached the door. There were so many treats inside. Although we primarily went for a tour behind the scenes most of us were tempted by a few specimens each. Mrs Greenbench, the Undergardener managed to fill a trolley with Hemerocalis, Achillea and Echinacea.

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Tim, the Plants Manager, gave us a quick talk about how the garden centre came about. We were delighted to know that plants were supplied by our favourite nurseries, The dingle and The Derwen, both near Welshpool and part of the same company. The Dingle is a pure nursery and its partner The Derwen more of a small garden centre. With these  three outlets close by we have access to plenty of quality plants.

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All the perennials were laid out in alphabetical order and they were impressive specimens. Likewise the shrubs. The first area visitors find is an area featuring plants currently in flower or with good foliage colour.

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There is a good selection of seeds, herbs and fruit and veg plants.

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The nursery is sited within a caravan sales centre and even between the caravans meadows have been sown. Topiary specimens impressed as did the new shade area.

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Before leaving I spoke to Tim about the possibility of a joint venture where Love Plants could sponsor a new garden within our communal gardens back at BAC and the three linked plant centres supplying the plants. This looks like being an exciting project. Watch this space!