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Return to Waterperry – part 2

As promised I am back sharing with you our summer time visit to the gardens at Waterperry.

Through this wooden gate we discovered a formal garden divided into four sections all featuring interesting and unusual alpines. The golden crocus lookalikes are Sternbergia lutea. Since seeing this beautiful patch we ordered a dozen for our own garden.

The orange flowers looking somewhat like Pentstemon pinifolia ‘Wisley Fire’ was in fact Zauschneria californica ‘Dublin’. Again, although we already grow P. ‘Wisley Fire’ we have bought the Zauschneria too and planted it in scree,

Occasionally when exploring gardens we come across seats that really surprise and impress and here at Waterperry we did just that. The first, the ‘Head Gardener’ seat seems to suit me! I want one! Jude obviously equally enjoyed the other.


As well as garden seats we discovered a spherical stone water feature which had the thinnest film of water seeping over its edge and down the sides. Completely different but again rather interesting was this thatched dovecote.

These metal and glass screens looked equally good close-up as they did from a distance. The light altered their colours as we moved around them.

I will finish this report on our return visit to Waterperry Gardens with photos of this beautiful figure sculpture sitting on top of the wall and a stunning piece of cloud pruning.



An Eccentric English Day Out – Pooh Sticks!

We are proud of being English and proud of being typically eccentrically English too. We enjoy doing typical English activities like Afternoon Tea and walking in the park. Recently we enjoyed a three-generation family weekend taking part in an activity only the English could do. We took part in the World Pooh Sticks Championships 2017! Totally crazy! But great fun!

We traveled down to Oxfordshire in search of Langel’s Common on the outskirts of Witney and parked up near the village’s parish church. A short walk saw us arriving at the field that was home to the championships and we crossed a bridge over the River Windrush.

Fans of the famous Winnie the Pooh children’s books written by AA Milne will know what this is all about. Others might need to check it out on Google. The event is described as one of the country’s quirkiest sports. In reality it requires absolutely no skill whatsoever, the only requirements needed are a sense of fun, a desire to help charities and a big smile.

The championships are run by the Rotary Club of Oxford Spires and they aimed to raise funds for their worldwide Purple4Polio campaign. Each competitor has to drop a coloured stick into the river on the count of three and then rush to the other side of the bridge to see whose stick crosses the finishing line first. Simple really!

We formed a team of four, calling ourselves “The Magnificent Mollies”, we registered our team and waited to collect our sticks from the “Keeper of the Sticks”. We chose to use green sticks and moved on to join the queue of teams awaiting their turn. We had Jude the Undergardener to support us along with Granddaughter Arabella who looked really cool with pink shades on.


We stood waiting and concentrating for the word and in turn dropped our green sticks. We did not do very well at all but enjoyed the fun and laughter and banter with other teams.


We celebrated the adage, “it’s the taking part that counts” by a family high fives after coming close to last in the team event. Then we celebrated again by enjoying a summer picnic on the river bank. A sign highlighted where ducks could be fed, but there were absolutely no ducks there!

While enjoying out picnic we watched the individual event taking place and to illustrate how skillful the sport is, it was won by a 6 year old boy, Daniel.

The team who arrived in their vintage US police car certainly seemed to enjoy their day and left happy and smiling and waving to everyone as they drove off. However, one little person must have arrived home unhappily after discovering they had lost their orange coat.


We had a great time and decided unanimously that we would be back!


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Broughton Grange – the outer edges.

Back to Broughton Grange and we can go through the piece of garden architecture, the stumpery arch and find that it becomes a whole garden growing around stumps on the other side. Old stumps were beautifully planted with varieties of Hostas, Ferns and Alchemilla.

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Beautifully curved paths presented us with rich choices. Each path led to interesting specimen trees. Of course I had to start by following the route to the chestnuts, their deep salmon coloured towers of flowers covered even these young trees.

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Cut through the arboretum were straight avenues each featuring a different variety of tree, such as chestnut and lime. This was a an effective contrast to the sinuous paths wriggling through the meadows growing under the young trees throughout the arboretum. These avenues gave long views to the Oxfordshire countryside beyond the boundaries of the garden and parkland.

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So if you like good garden design, interesting plants, trees, meadows and of course the obligatory coffee and cakes and want a good relaxing day out keep an eye on the website for Broughton Grange and make sure you go along and see it for yourself.

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A wander in the Oxfordshire countryside


We were in Oxfordshire for a few days last week mainly because it was my birthday and as a treat Jude the Undergardener arranged for us to visit a garden designed by one of my favourite garden designers, Tom Stuart-Smith. (If you are a regular reader you will already know that!) He had designed a part of a much bigger garden which we discovered included two of our favourite features, meadows and an arboretum. But that is the subject of my next post so you have to wait for that treat!

A mile or two from out hotel was a nursery specialising in herbs (The National Herb Centre) and it had the added benefit of being in farmland to which visitors had access. We did enjoy looking at the huge variety of herbs especially the mints, lavenders and thymes but we mostly wanted to get into that countryside.

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We wandered through wet grassland where even the cut paths were saturated from the heavy overnight rain. As rain still threatened and dark clouds loomed overhead we headed for the woods in the bottom of a valley. We were glad we did as the air was thick with birdsong. It was so loud and there were so many birds there, that it brought back memories of country childhoods where this volume of birdsong resounded everywhere. Sadly it is now rare. So rare that it stopped us in our tracks. Blackbirds, Dunnocks  Wrens, Robins and Song Thrushes. These resident birds provided the main chorus but the solos were performed by the summer visitors, the warblers. Blackcaps, Whitethroats, Chiffchaffs, Wood Warblers and Redstarts.

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A loud buzzing sound emanating from behind a notice on a tree trunk made us stop and investigate. Dark bodied bees were busy around a crack in the bark and in the shelter of the notice. They seemed calm so I moved in close to take a photo and they didn’t seem to mind. However they changed their tune when the camera flash went off, their gentle buzzing sounded more urgent and aggressive so we moved away rapidly.


Leaving the shelter of the wood we were pleased that the rain had stopped and the world looked a lot brighter so we followed a path around the meadows which we discovered were very damp so in patches were covered in that most ancient of plants the Mares Tail, always a sign of damp ground. Anywhere that the ground dipped a pool had formed.

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Between two of these pools a surprise awaited us. Look at the next photo and see if you can work out just what lurks in the greenery.


Have a look at this second view taken a few steps further back and there is a clue.


Yes, here in the soggy ground between two pools the farmer had abandoned a pair of old tractors. The one deep in the undergrowth would never pull a plough to turn the earth but with a little persuasion the second might. The amount of wildlife living in the oldest of the two must have been vast. The bodywork was host to mosses, lichen and algae and spiders had crafted their webs from the wing mirrors. But the biggest surprise of all was that a pair of Bullfinches, surely one of our most colourful native birds were feeding a nest of young within its heart. So there was plenty of life in the old tractor still!

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Of course once we had finished enjoying wandering around the fields we returned to the garden centre for a coffee and to purchase a few choice plants. Who could ask for more?