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Chatsworth – part one

In 2019 we spent a warm and humid mid-July day at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire where we explored the gardens for the whole day, refreshed by the largest ice-cream cones we have ever enjoyed. It is one of the UK’s largest gardens and is full of interesting planting, unusual features and some wonderful glasshouses. These glasshouses are the work of a past head gardener Joseph Paxton. You need a whole day to really appreciate these gardens and you need to plan your day well.

The first set of photos shows the beauty of the glasshouses  both old and new at Chatsworth and a beautiful mature specimen of Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’ and a subtly planted pot.

We made our way around the glasshouses towards the productive garden, which we knew had been developed since our previous visit and enjoyed some interesting plants and plant combinations along the way.

Sculpture is always in evidence at Chatsworth and there was plenty of interest on this visit, from classical to modern, wood and stone and hidden away throughout the gardens.

 

And then we came across this amazing seat which is a piece of sculpture in its own right.

   

 

 

 

 

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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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A Week in Cornwall – Part 4 – Heligan

The Lost Gardens of Heligan is one of the top garden attractions in the country as figures have shown. The gardens were discovered and unearthed by Tim Smitt when he explored the gardens which had been derelict since the end of World War I, when so many of the gardeners did not return. The gardens were totally overgrown, buildings derelict and glasshouses tumbling down, glass broken and wood rotting.

Smitt decided to resurrect them and opened the gardens to the public as a team of gardeners and archaeologists began work. They were called, romantically, The Lost Gardens of Heligan. We visited soon after it opened and really enjoyed its romantic atmosphere.

The restoration is now just about complete, so we looked forward to our return visit to see it in its new guise. We soon realised that we were in for a treat as soon as we entered the coffee shop for our usual boost of coffee and cakes before our wanderings. Old garden tools were beautifully framed and displayed on the walls and the building had a lovely old rustic feel about them.

 

As we left the cafe a fingerpost presented us with plenty of options. We were most interested in the productive walled garden with its glasshouses, coldframes, bothy and potting shed. So we made our way there passing interesting plantings along the way.

   

We entered the walled garden through a gateway and made our way towards apple arches forming a covered walkway, rich with fruit. Around all border edges fruit is trained to create living productive fences. Across the length of each garden patch vegetables, roots, beans and salads march in long strong rows as straight as can be.

    

The gardeners were busily strengthening the traditions laid down by their gardener predecessors. One gardener was spreading seaweed collected just hours before from the beach and driven back to the walled garden by tractor and trailer. Nearby potatoes were being harvested and boxed up in wooden trays in readiness for storage in dark sheds or cellars.

 

Flowers for cutting were blossoming in lines parallel to the veggies, zinnias, dahlias and antirrhinums.

 

Leaving the walled garden we moved into a smaller attached walled yard, where coldframes sat wide open for aeration.These sat happily alongside a collection of glasshouses. These glasshouses were the very ones we had seen years ago in a state of total dereliction. Now they stand proud and productive thanks to the skills of craftsmen utilising traditional craftsmanship and skills.

The walls were furnished with ancient trained fruit trees, apples, pears, peaches and plums.

    

Beyond the glasshouses the potting shed stood holding the memories of those gardeners lost in the first world war, terracotta pots filled each row of every rack where close by garden tools hung on whitewashed walls. We could feel a special atmosphere in this shed, full of the skills of gardeners past and present.

     

Leaving the potting shed we still had lots to see and plenty to explore. See my next post for Heligan Part 2, Beyond the Potting Shed.

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Our Short Break in Stratford -on-Avon – Part 3 – Anne Hathaway’s cottage and garden

Anne Hathaway was Shakepeare’s wife and her cottage and garden are probably one of the best known tourist destinations in England, so we were pleased to be visiting in mid-week when we hpoed it might be a little quieter. Luckily we arrived just ahead of a party of schoolgirls, excited, boisterous and noisy.

Visitors were allowed into the cottage in small groups each of which received an introductory talk from a knowledgeable guide. Her chat prepared us well for our visit. We had a wandewr around the cottage interior although really we wnated be outside exploring the cottage style garden.

This set of photos give you the sense of the cottage’s beauty, intimacy and atmosphere. Beautiful gable windows pierce the tiled roof while climbing and scented plants snuggle up to its walls. The gardens are both productive and ornamental, with vegetable patches, fruit production and orchards as well as meadows and mixed borders. A beautiful woven “moongate” adds interest alongside many other sculptural pieces.

  

To help share our experiences at the Anne Hathaway cottage and garden I will use a gallery of shots taken during our exploration of the cottage interior, the garden and the grounds further afield. Enjoy by clicking on the first photo then navigate with the arrows.

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A Walk in the Park – Attingham Park October

So here we are back with number ten in this series featuring our wanderings and discoveries as we walk around the pathways of our local National Trust property, Attingham Park. As intimated in my September “Walk in the Park” posting, Jude the Undergardener pushed me around in a wheelchair following my leg surgery so the photographs will be from an unusual viewpoint. But we did manage the walk to the walled garden and returned via the One Mile Walk.

We were surprised that autumn had not advanced as much as we had anticipated, with many trees still carrying their full contingent of leaves. The walled garden was still very colourful.

Fungi was still in evidence and fallen leaves looked less brightly coloured.

 

There were frequent signs of the destructive forces of the wind and the more controlled hand of the gardeners working on tree surgery tasks.

 

The gateway into the walled garden welcomed us into a colourful magical place.

We were really surprised and delighted to find this beautifully presented hand painted poster celebrating the wonder of the apples in the Attingham Park orchard.

Humour is an essential of a good garden but so often missing. Just look at what a gardener here has created to make the visitor smile.

We can complete our journey now by looking at the photos I took as we returned along the riverside path back to the stable block.

Next visit here will be in November – I have no idea if I will still be wheelchair bound by then or not. Fingers crossed!

 

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A Walk in the Park – Attingham Park in September 1

We returned for our monthly visit for a wander around the park at Attingham Park, the gardens, woodlands and walled garden. Here is my report on our visit in September. We made the visit early in the month as I was due to go into hospital for some pretty major surgery, a rebuild of my right leg to be precise, so we don’t know when the October visit may happen. You may get a series of photos taken from a new angle, from a wheelchair.

We arrived expecting to see early signs of autumn, such as some colouring up of leaves and looked forward to spotting some early fungi. As we followed the path surfaced with bark chip beneath the mature trees towards the destination, we noticed how autumn’s harvest of nuts had been blown down onto the path in front of us, acorns, Sweet Chestnuts, and Horse Chestnuts. Shrubs were putting on displays of rich shiny berries for us to enjoy looking at and for wildlife to cache away until winter digs in deeply or to enjoy a few now.

   

    

Autumn fruits were in abundance in the Walled Garden, fruit trees and bushes, some trained against the walls for extra warmth, were dripping with fruits awaiting harvest time.

We left the walled garden and followed the woodland walk trail, hoping to find some fungi and signs of foliage changing their colours. In part two I will share with you what we found.

 

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A Walk in the Park – Attingham Park – June

We made our June visit to Attingham Park early in the month to see how summer was coming on in the walled garden and in the wilder parts of the park along the woodland walks. We enjoyed a view of the cottage garden on our way to begin wandering beneath tall trees towards the walled garden.

  

The walled garden impressed us so much because it was full of colour, with plants in the double herbaceous border bursting with blooms.

We left the walled garden taking the path through the adjoining orchard, where we sat for a while to enjoy some ice-creams. Fully refreshed we followed the winding paths beneath the trees and between the shrubs, taking the Woodland Walk before taking a short cut back to the parkland, over two bridges and past the hall itself. You may notice that as we crossed over the bridges we enjoyed playing Pooh Sticks.

I thought I could share my photographs via a gallery for you to enjoy. Please click on the first pic then navigate using the arrows. I hope you enjoy the views we enjoyed.

 

Our next visit to Attingham Park will be in July when we will be well into summer.

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A Walk in the Park – Attingham Park April – Part 1

We managed to find a day close to the end of April to make our monthly visit to Attingham Park. It was a bright warm day so we knew we would have much to look forward to. As we made our way beneath tall mature trees full of noisy nesting Jackdaws and Rooks we were joined by grandparents carrying out their grandchildren caring duties so the sounds at our level were of laughing youngsters enjoying being outdoors.

There was so much to enjoy, wildflowers in full vibrant colour, fresh green leaf burst in the trees and busy productive growing in the walled garden.

The old Head Gardener’s cottage garden provided a colourful welcome to the park’s visitors.

 

Enjoy a wander through the walled garden by exploring the gallery below. (Click on the first pic and navigate through clicking on the right arrow.)

We left the walled garden to follow the One Mile Walk, which would take us close to the river and afford us views of the woodland and pastureland beyond. It is a quiet but popular walk. Most visitors here enjoy the peace and the chance to be part of nature.

 

Bluebells gave clouds of deep blue, a haze of calm and beauty.

    

The pale colours of fresh willow foliage gave a ghostly feeling to this section of the walk.

 

Rhododendrons provided surprise splashes of colour in the shadows of the tallest of trees.

 

Towards the end of our wanderings for our April visit to Attingham Park, the deciduous trees with their bright fresh new foliage and bursting buds gave way to dark needled coniferous evergreens. Their large cones looked like a family of young Little Owls.

 

In part two of our report on our April visit to Attingham Park I will share with the the pleasure of finding flowers, wild and cultivated, on our wanderings and some pics of fresh foliage growth.

 

 

 

 

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A Walk in the Park – Attingham Park March – The Walled Garden

I shall post two reports for our March visit to Attingham Park, the first about the Walled Garden followed by one about the walk we followed, the Woodland Walk.

We walked our usual track beneath tall mature deciduous trees to take us to the walled garden. We had a detour to look at the nut walk, lined with coppiced Hazel trees and to have a look at Attingham Park’s famous old bee “building”, the Georgian Bee House. It is a very decorative wooden construction painted white and featuring fancy trellis-work.

    

On route we discovered naturalised Daffodils and native Celandines glowing bright golden-yellow beneath magnificent mature trees. The lawns and borders of the gardener’s cottage looked neatly prepared to celebrate Spring. A Clematis alpina displayed deep purple buds fit to burst. Species Tulips were already in flower among emerging growth of herbaceous perennials.

    

Approaching the gateway into the walled garden we noticed colour on the trained fruit trees, the white and pinks of blossom.

  

Once we were within the walls we could appreciate the extra warmth and protection afforded by the tall red-bricked walls. Leaf buds were opening on fruit bushes and canes and perennial plants were emerging strongly now the soil had some warmth to it. Bulbs were already flowering and sharing perfume.

   

We were sure that the gardeners, who like to garden organically, were delighted at the sight of emerging Ladybirds.

We were so pleased to find the glasshouse doors open to allow us to wander inside to study their structure and mechanisms as well as allowing us to check what the gardeners were up to.

             

The informal decorative and cut flower borders surrounding the glasshouses were most colourful, with Primulas and bulbs taking full advantage of the extra degree or two of warmth afforded by the walls.

 

A quick look into the gardeners’ bothy showed us that lots of seed potatoes were chitting nicely and we noticed that the volunteer gardeners had plenty of jobs to challenge them.

When we return next month we look forward to seeing big changes in the productive borders.

When we left the bothy we continued to walk beneath tall trees along the way marked track taking us towards the start of the Woodland Walk. This walk will be the subject of the next March Attingham Park post.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Walk in the Park – February at Attingham Park – Part 1

It is mid-February and time for our second visit to Attingham Park, our nearest National Trust property. We awoke on the day of our planned visit to a dark overcast sky and light rain hanging in the air, but we set off nonetheless, determined that the weather would not spoil our plans. We started with a quick coffee break but the rain had not improved when we set off on the actual walk to the walled garden and onwards along “The Mile Walk”.

We were on the look out for signs of fresh growth and early signs of wildlife activity. We were not expecting to find much change in the walled garden. Leaf buds were opening on several trees and shrubs, the first signs of fresh growth, as well as a few very early flowers on shrubs.

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As we left the coffee shop in the courtyard we made our way towards the walled garden following the soft bark path beneath extremely tall trees, where odd leaves brown from autumn were still caught in their lower branches. Up above in the uppermost branches Jackdaws were busy tidying up their nests from last year and noisily chattering away as they did so.

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Snowdrops carpeted the floor beneath tall trees looking at their brightest in the shade of hollies which are a feature of the woodland garden here. After enjoying the snowdrops and the variety of hollies we soon found ourselves in the protection of the Walled Garden.

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The volunteer gardeners had been working hard skillfully pruning the fruit and we really enjoyed appreciating their skills. A neat layer of compost provided a warm protective mulch and gave an extra level of neatness.

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In the very centre of the four segments of the walled garden a dipping well is conveniently placed. Alongside waits an old wheeled water bucket cart beautifully crafted in iron and galvanised metal. Today it is more decorative then functional.

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New life was showing in the herbaceous borders running along both sides of the main centre path.

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As we moved into the glasshouse yard bright blue splashes of colour showed strongly in the borders and in pots, diminutive Iris reticulata.

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We never fail to be impressed by the workmanship evident wherever old glasshouses have been restored to their former glory.

 

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We exited the walled garden via the doorway leading to the orchard, which also gave us access to the lean-to buildings outside the walls themselves. We explored each building and recess to discover old clay pots, the old boiler and an apple store.

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So leaving the warmer atmosphere found within the walled garden, we returned to the path that would take us to The Mile Walk. That will be the subject of my Attingham Park February walk part two.