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Simply Beautiful – no 32 in very occasional series

We reach number 32 in this very occasional series of simply beautiful things found in gardens. Today I am featuring an extremely unusual Berberis with the most rich orange flowers I have ever seen. Sadly I do not know its name and there was no label on the shrub. We found this lovely plant at Moors Meadow in Herefordshire.

So there it is the most amazing Berberis I have ever seen, and I don’t know what it is!

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Oakley Mynd – a wildlife garden with views

Here is a post I wrote back in the summer which I thought would be good to post now to bring back memories of warmer days.

We always like finding new gardens opening for the NGS, and Oakley Mynd was a real find. As there was no parking we had to park in Bishops Castle where we took the mini-bus provided by the NGS up the narrow steep lanes.

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Pembrokeshire coast and gardens – a week away in June – Part 5- Dyffryn Fernant

Dyffryn Fernant is one of those gardens that makes such a lasting impression that I can walk through it in my mind in great detail whenever I wish to. It is one of the best gardens we have ever visited, so atmospheric and so romantic, with such a great choice of plants all beautifully and sensitively combined to show each at its best. It even had a library of gardening books where we were able to shelter from the rain and enjoy drinking coffee.

You know this is going to be a special garden when you feel so welcome as you approach the house.

The library was a great place to shelter from the showers, a place for coffee and cake and a place to study some great gardening and art books. In front of this lovely deep pink building was an area of planting, really original planting with interesting plants.

Sculpture adds so much to good gardens giving them a lift. Gardens can provide great places to display sculptural pieces including found objects of interest. This was definitely the case at Dyffryn Fernant.

 

We really enjoyed the planting and the atmosphere at this wonderful garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pembrokeshire Coast and Gardens – a week away in June -Part 1 – Cae Hir

As autumn creeps in slowly I will look back at a holiday week back in mid-summer as a reminder of what a great year we have had.

In June we decided to make the three hour journey across mid-Wales and then down the coast to Cardigan . We had a brilliant varied week marred only by the rain which hovered above us most days. But being gardeners we didn’t let it beat us – we just donned waterproofs and ignored it the best we could. We visited the coast, followed a coastal path, visited Cardigan the town and castle and of course discovered a few beautiful gardens.

On the day that we journeyed down we stopped off towards the end of our journey to explore a garden partnered to the RHS, called Cae Hir. We loved its mix of cultivated plants living happily with wilder cousins, which made for a warm, gentle atmosphere. Being a small garden we had the chance to spend time with the head gardener, who spoke of the achievements of his father setting up the garden from a barren hillside and the challenges ahead for himself as owner/head gardener. We enjoyed several cups of coffee with him accompanied by cakes of course.

Cae Hir Gardens welcomed us with bright grasses and Welsh Poppies, setting the tone for what we were to experience throughout the gardens.

Cae Hir garden is an atmospheric hillside garden full of choice plants and path choices. We enjoyed some special roses which we needed help to identify, one climber being Leo’s Eyes, a deep cerise R. rugosa and a deep red single flowered rose which even the owner could not identify for us.

There were intimate areas where the planting enclosed us but soon after clear green areas opened up before us changing the mood of the garden constantly.

Occasionally a more formal feature surprised us amongst the gentle naturalness prevalent in the rest of the garden, a piece of topiary or a rectangular pool.

The garden was a balance between woodland and open spaces, and its atmosphere was led by the mix of cultivated and wildflowers. We particularly liked the long sweeps of geraniums and a circular garden based on reds and purples.

 

This lovely garden had one more surprise up its sleeve, awaiting us in an hedged rectangle of garden – a bonsai garden! So our time here was a true box of delights revealing its secrets to us as we explored.

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Seasonal Visits to two very different gardens – mid-summer at Bodnant

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.

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The Citadel – a May garden full of colour.

We started our monthly garden visits with our friends from the Hardy Plant Society Shropshire Group with a visit to a garden called The Citadel, which although it is close, within 20 miles of where we live, we had never visited before.

We enjoyed our morning greatly as we found a garden of colour and surprises set around a beautiful red sandstone building. The colour was mostly from Rhododendrons and Azaleas, many of which were also richly scented. The entrance to the garden took us past a wonderful perfectly shaped Copper Beech in its reddish copper colouring. It made a wonderful picture with its neighbouring trees and shrubs.

Around the corner of the house we met the owner who did most of the gardening and his rather grumpy dog, Freddie. We immediately noticed a circle of colourful tulips and nearby a lovely seating area and a wisteria draped pergola.

After an introduction we took off along a series of pathways up a raised section covered in Rhododendrons. We found surprises along the way which adds an extra dimension to any good garden.

As we left the rhododendrons behind with their bright colours and large blooms, the views opened up in front of us. We discovered an old rustic and very highly decorated summerhouse, an open view over the countryside and much softer plantings.

 

 

We were surprised to find a beautifully maintained and productive looking productive garden. From here we made our way to the castle for refreshments and a chat with the owner, and that is how our lovely morning ended.

 

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The NGS get together at Hodnet

Every year in late March we attend a get together with the NGS county organiser and the garden openers. This year was our friend Allison’s first year as county organiser and as her garden is small she had to arrange an alternative venue. To everyone’s delight the owner of Hodnet Hall and Gardens offered the use of his restaurant and also allowed us free range of the gardens. We were in for a treat!

To start off with we were warmly greeted by the car park attendants, Martin and George, then after parking up as we reached the courtyard fronting the restaurant building, we received more warm welcomes from Allison, our County Organiser, and Sir Algernon Heber-Percy the owner of the hall and its garden. He formally welcomed us all with a humorous speech. After informative talks by representatives of MacMillan Nurses and Horatio’s Gardens we indulged in a sumptuous meal.

Then we were left to explore the gardens, all 60 acres of it! We began our exploration by following a small flight of stone steps into an area of tall mature trees and then moved on to take a slow wander around the string of lakes and back to the borders below the hall itself.

I will continue the tour by sharing a gallery of photographs with you. As usual click on the first pic and navigate using the arrows.

So that was our day out at Hodnet Hall – a great time was had by all! I wonder what next year’s NGS get together will entail!

For information Hodnet Hall is open for the NGS but does have other opening dates throughout the year so do check them out.

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The Dingle Garden in November

Back to wander around the gardens at the Dingle near Welshpool, for our November visit. We expected big changes after recent strong winds and heavy rain. We did not anticipate seeing many leaves left on deciduous trees and shrubs, but hoped for signs of late autumn colours in foliage and berries.

The first pic at the start of this post shows one leaf that was still hanging on against all odds, even after all our recent strong winds and storms. Below is a selection of photos of flowers still going strong in the woodland garden, some late blooms from the summer and some early winter blooms.

 

Throughout the woodland garden where there was a clearing the ground was covered in low growing perennials often covered with a carpet of fallen leaves.

    

During our visits over the year to The Dingle Gardens there has been an area that has been much wetter than elsewhere, often with water running off the bank across the paths and on down to the lake. On this visit we noticed and heard that work was in hand to add extra drainage systems to rectify the problem.

 

Berries are signs of the year’s end, there to help keep the plant populations viable.  Alongside them in this garden of trees and shrubs there were signs of new life in the form of leaf and flower buds waiting to unfold for us to enjoy in the future.

There was so much to enjoy as we wandered the garden paths that I took lots of photographs, so I thought I would finish our November post about our Dingle Garden visits with a photo gallery. As usual click on the first photo and navigate using the right arrow.

So just one more post to go which will be for our December visit to this wonderful woodland garden.

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Autumn in an Arboretum and Afternoon Tea

We were lucky to receive a voucher for an afternoon tea from our son Jamie and daughter-in-law Sam, and of course little Arabella and decided to redeem it at a hotel down in the Cotswolds, near the village of Moreton-in-the-Marsh.

We drove down early and spent time wandering Batsford Arboretum, enjoying the colours of autumn leaves before the winds blew them from the branches. It was a dull day but the foliage glowed through the gloom. Most colour came from Acers and Liquidamber of many varieties of each. The wind had already whipped many leaves from their branches.

  

Of course autumn isn’t complete without the red, pinks, oranges and reds of berries, provided by Sorbus, Malus and here at Batsford by the unusual tree called Zanthoxylum planispinum (photo below left).

  

One area of the arboretum was strongly influenced by Japanese garden styles, complete with red painted wooden bridges.

  

While looking at this statue of Buddha we had to suddenly take refuge  in the Japanese tea house nearby from a quick but heavy shower in.

 

We only just allowed ourselves enough time to reach Charingworth Manor for our afternnon tea booked for three in the afternoon. On the journey there it began to rain slightly and the temperature dropped so we were glad to get inside this beautiful Cotswold manor house to the warm and dry. We sat to enjoy our tea close to a huge log fireplace of golden Cotswold stone.

What a great day we had with autumn foliage, an amble around an arboretum finished off in style with afternoon tea.

 

 

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My Garden Journal 2018 – November

This is the penultimate post in this 12 part series about my 2018 Garden Journal so here is what was happening in our patch in November.

The first couple of pages dealt with the continued redevelopment of our old hot garden. We intended to give it a completely new look including bark access paths through it.

I wrote, “The re-development of the old hot garden continued to the end of the month and into the first days of November.” The first picture shows Jude the Undergardener holding up a huge root which Ian managed to dig out of the bed. He had to cut it off at both ends as it was extending beneath the lawn in one direction and out of our garden in another. It sat horizontally in the soil just above the boulder clay layer. We have no idea what plant it belonged to originally. One of our gardening mysteries! The second photo shows Ian our garden helper raking over the soil which he had meticulously double dug after adding lots of organic compost. This first addition of compost was dug in before a second batch was added as a thick mulch.

 

We then laid a path of bark over membrane before  getting ready to enjoy planting both our new and saved plants.

   

On the right hand page I looked at how Jude spent time early in the month cleaning pots, cleaning the glass in the greenhouse and putting up bubblewrap insulation. Once done this allowed us to move my succulent collection into the winter safety to be found under glass. “Jude washed and cleaned all our plastic pots so that we can reuse them. Our hot bench was cleaned up and bubblewrap put up in place as insulation. My succulent collection is now snug and secure in the sparkling clean greenhouse.”

  

Turning over to my next double page spread I looked at our fruit and the continuation of planting up the new border.

I wrote, “This is the latest in any year that we have harvested our crop of apples from our main trees and heritage cordons. We have used the beautiful book “The Apple Book” by Rosie Sanders to check the indentification of those apples whose labels have been lost. The apples are now ready for storage and we will hopefully enjoy them through to the end of March.”

Sometimes fruit can surprise us. “This year saw us grow the biggest pear we have ever seen. Jude has now put our apples in store and I have printed new labels for every apple tree. The next stage will be to enjoy eating our apples from storage and then next spring the blossom will return.”

My diary moved on to look at us planting up the newly created border which used to be our Hot Border, “After a few days away in London we returned refreshed and ready to continue with our new border. Planting grasses and herbaceous perennials topped off by bulb planting gave us several days work. Work we love doing!”

“We planted hundreds of  bulbs and dozens of grasses and perennials, all in the dry week given to us in mid-November.”

    

Next I moved on to consider one of our favourite tree families the Sorbus and on the opposite page I sought out flowers choosing to brighten us up in gloomy November.

“We love Sorbus in their many guises but particularly delight in the cut leaf berrying varieties. When we lost our mature tree of Quince vranja we decided to replace it with another Sorbus to add to our small collection. November is the key month for Sorbus as the fire like colours of foliage adds another layer of interest on top of their delicately cut foliage and their colourful berries. Below are some of our Sorbus trees.

Sorbus Joseph Rock                 Sorbus Autumn Spire

Sorbus Autumn Spire                                          Sorbus aucuparia

Sorbus Apricot Queen                                       Sorbus Apricot Queen

Sorbus vilmorinii                                                 Sorbus vilmorinii

On the page opposite the Sorbus I share the flowers that cheer up the November garden.

“The flowers of November are fewer than earlier in the year but this makes every one of them extra special.”

     

The colour orange features on the left hand side of my next double page spread, where I look at the variety of orange featuring in our November garden.

“Orange is the dominant foliage colour in our November garden, as shrubs, trees and grasses set fire to the borders.”

      

Opposite the oranges was a delicate watercolour pencil sketch of a hosta leaf, about which I wrote, “Take one leaf, a hosta leaf drying out and draining of colour.”

The final page for November considers colours once again. November was a very colourful month overall.

A set of eight photos display colours from our shrubs, and alongside I wrote, “Deep into the month there is still so much colour in the garden. Some foliage deepens to  rich ruby shades.”

The final photo is of the foliage of a special small tree, a viburnum with leaves which make you think it is a betula at first sight. “The leaves of Viburnum betulifolium change colour so slowly with subtle deepening from bronze to dark red.”

   

So there is just one monthly report left to write in my Garden Journal for 2018, December, which will be my next post in this series.