Earlier this year you may remember that our specimen Cercis siliquastrum got blown over in a series of three gales day after day. We did finally manage to get it back up and tie firmly to its post which we put into a new hole. We then kept our fingers crossed and looked what happened in May! Such a stoic of a tree!
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.
I found this unpublished post originally written back in mid-February of 2018. I hope you enjoy it!
Back at John’s Garden for our February visit in the cold we can carry on with our exploration as we wander further along the canal-side borders to the canal bridge. In part two we will move along the canal borders before returning along the opposite side of the patch, while along the way discovering a pool, sculpture and a terrace and lots more exciting plants and plant pairings.
Conifers, grasses and trees and shrubs with coloured stems and bark give a common theme throughout. The first two photos below show the matching gold coloured foliage of a group of conifers and a swathe of grasses.
The Rhodendron above has a surprise for you if you turn over its leaves! Who would expect orange on the reverse side of a touch dark green leaf? And it feels like the softest felt.
Skimmia “Kew Green” has unusual green flowers instead of the usual reddish shades, while the Witch Hazels sport many shades of yellow.
Snowdrops in drifts light up the ground beneath the tree. Ilex “Ferox” sparkles with variegated leaves curled and heavily spined, probably one of the best hollies available for the small garden.
Metal panels with cut-out shapes of fern leaves reflect the planting beneath them in the border. John features many different versions of the low growing evergreen shrub, Leucothe. This one was a real beauty!
White can be a powerful colour when the winter sun catches it, as in the bleached stems of Teasels, the trunks of white-bark Birch and the ground covering Carex.
Along the way a beautiful pool gave a space to slow down and take a deep breath to take in all we had so far seen.
Every garden however small needs seats and they must be chosen to fit the design and atmosphere.
Sculpture is scattered around the garden providing us with pleasant surprises among our delight at its plants.
Turning at the far end of the garden we had a quick look at the new garden which has just begun being created, Adam’s Garden, designed in memory of John’s gardener who died very young late last year. This will be a great addition to the garden and we look forward to seeing it develop. We then returned on the opposite side of the long garden making interesting discoveries all the way.
The terrace is a place where you need to stop and study the small details, the pots full of original planting ideas, trimmed shrubs, interesting foliage and some floating blossoms.
Exploring an interesting little terrace garden finished our visit and we returned to the cafe via John’s lawned area with Betula, Snowdrops, Crocus and sheep.
We have a list of the other few open days the rest of the year so aim to return. All of John’s open days are to raise money for charity including some for the National Garden Scheme, the NGS. We will be back!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jude and I had the opportunity to spend a day at Dawyck Botanic Garden, a garden which is part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. What made our visit extra special was that we took our little granddaughter Arabella with us. At just 20 months old she is a great lover of gardens and especially trees.
Dawyck is a woodland garden rich with trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials to back them up. We have visited so many woodland gardens and arboreta over the years but we were amazed by how large Dawyck’s specimen trees were, the largest in girth and height we have ever seen.
Arabella was fascinated by the disinfectant pads which visitors had to walk through to help prevent the spread of tree desease to help protect our trees. Good to see the garden setting a good example. Too many of our trees seem to be under threat. Once Arabella realised we were off exploring the woodland she wanted her explorers back pack on. Then she was off!
We wandered off trying but failing to follow the yellow way-marked trail, stopping regularly to look up at the tallest trees and touch their bark and study their leaves.
A new word appeared for Arabella when she saw these trees – ENORMOUS! This was always followed a big “WOW”.
Arabella did however wear herself out so succumbed to a sleep time so Jude and I enjoyed a good rest too.
We were so fortunate to visit Dawyck on a day with brilliant light quality that emphasised texture and patterens in foliage and bark.
But trees cannot take all the praise as herbaceous perennials and ferns were of equal interest and beautifuly displayed and cared for.
I have saved this tree until last as it took our breath away and sent our granddaughter speechless for a while until she blurted out excitedly, “More enormous!”
It is rare that you can say that the seats in the cafe were worth a mention but these at Dawyck were beautifully carved from wood and each was original. They were comfortable too! A good end to an exceptional day with trees and a young tree appreciator.
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.