country walks Shropshire trees Uncategorized

First walk for months! Part 1

After not being allowed out of our own property because of the coronavirus once we heard I was allowed a little freedom we immediately went out for a walk around the village. We set off down our lane which goes through the village and soon turned left into Well Lane where we soon found the footpath we were after.

We were delighted to see a puddle, the first we had seen for weeks.

It was good to see that Mother Nature has continued her good work during lock down and we enjoyed seeing wildflowers, grasses and seeds on trees. This earl stretch of our walk took us along an ancient drovers’ road with hedges both sides. Occasional glimpses though gaps show crops growing sadly regularly covered in chemical sprays. We were to discover the bad effects of this later on our walk.


Sadly there were signs that plants were suffering from the long spell of hot dry weather.

After walking for half an hour or so we reached an old beautiful manor house where our path turned at right angles skirting the lake. Alongside the lake was a beautiful extremely wildlife friendly wide verge of wild flowers with annuals added for extra insect food. Below is a short gallery of photos taken of this feature. As usual click on the first photo then navigate using the arrows. Enjoy.

After enjoying the wildlife border and its wildlife we walked on a little way to a place where three fields met and stopped for a break. (See part 2)

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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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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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A Snowdrop Walk – Millichope Hall

Every year we look forward to one walk early each year dedicated to snowdrops en masse. We are not seriously interested in the huge variety of different Snowdrop cultivars but enjoy the simple single Snowdrops seen in huge “flocks” particularly in woodland where they look at their best. This year we decided to follow a Snowdrop walk at Shropshire’s Millichope Hall because we also wanted to explore the walled garden being revamped by a young couple who have established a nursery, within the protection of the walls, and display gardens too. The nursery specialises in old fashioned scented Violas.

We arrived in the temporary car park in one of the estate’s fields after less than an hour drive. The weather looked and felt fine for a good day out. We took a wandering pathway through the parkland to get to the walled garden nursery and the all important tea with cake. En route we passed patches of Snowdrops beneath the park’s mature trees, looking like wispy clouds or puddles of frost on the short grass. We found a striking patch looking happily established on the ice-house entrance wall.


Once in the walled garden we were immediately drawn to these glasshouses with areas of elegantly curved glass. They had been beautifully restored!


The gardens themselves inside the weathered old red brick walls were being recreated as flowing herbaceous borders. Definitely a sign reminding us to visit in the summer to see progress.


Leaving the walled garden we crossed a beautiful and very sturdy wooden footbridge over the hall’s driveway and we began to experience the joy and atmosphere of seeing masses of naturalised Snowdrops, tumbling down slopes and covering the shadows beneath trees.


The walk back took us alongside a beautiful stream which has been straightened and turned into a feature with different heights of steps for the water to fall over creating gently rippling sounds. We had enjoyed our annual snowdrop walk, which put us in the right frame of mind to enjoy spring which was waiting in the wings.



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Another Yellow Book Garden – Tea on the Way

We enjoyed a visit to another garden which appears in the National Garden Scheme’s Yellow Book, the scheme which our own Avocet garden is a part of. We spend many an afternoon visiting our fellow gardeners who open their gardens for charity.


In mid-May we set off through the Hope Valley near our home and on through South Shropshire through the village of Clun up a narrow lane that got more and more narrow and rougher and rougher until we reached a field designated as a car park for the day. The garden of Guilden Down Cottage awaited a short walk away. We soon realised that we knew of this garden already in its other guise as “Tea on the Way”. The cottage owners serve refreshments to walkers passing by. But on the day of our visit they were open to raise funds for the charities of the National Garden Scheme.


At the entrance to the garden we spotted produce for sale in a lane side stall.

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We waited to pay our entry fee and order our usual tea and cakes to prime us for our garden exploration! I noticed a beautiful woodstore and beside it a sleepy old sheep dog.

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We soon began to realise that this was gong to be an interesting visit, perhaps not so much for the plants but more for its quirkiness and cheerful atmosphere. As we wandered towards a seat on which to enjoy our refreshments we spotted the first quirky artifacts. Even the seat we sat upon was home made and full of character.

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Once refreshed we took off on our exploration and first off found this well planted container. The planting around the front lawn looked lush and was set off by the bird bath.

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A flight of stone steps with rustic trellis either side welcomed us into the main garden. Being an organic garden we were on the look out for unusual ideas and gardening methods. As always though we were searching out the plants!

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Some plants were planted in interesting containers or within collections of artifacts.

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The kitchen garden was beautiful with a network of paths made from woodchip entered via handmade gates created using wood harvested from the garden.

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Close to the kitchen garden we found a polytunnel and a fruit cage and some signs of organic principles in action, an insect home, comfrey liquid fertiliser and worm pee fertiliser.

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A few more artifacts and craft pieces spotted at Guilden Down Cottage will end this post nicely.

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Croft Castle month by month – Part 5 May

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We are almost half way through the year now so we were expecting to see some big changes at Croft on our May visit.

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We made our May visit to Croft Castle on a warm sunny day so everything in the garden looked colourful and full of cheer. The leaves were fully out on all the trees and herbaceous plants were beginning to flower.

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The long border we always pass as we make our way towards the walled garden is now lush with every shade of green with occasional splashes of flower colour. Our view from the long border towards the church and castle is framed beautifully by trees in full leaf. The Horse Chestnuts were in full blossom. They are beautiful flowers when looked at close up.

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On the walls of the buildings close to the walled garden roses were in full bloom.

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As we passed through the gateway into the waled garden we were amazed by how much the first view had changed. It simply looked so green and lush.

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For the first time this year the vineyard at Croft was showing signs of growth with shining bronze-green leaves bursting from every bud.

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We expected to see major changes as we walked through the blue gates to look at the greenhouse and the surrounding garden. Bright reds of poppies hit us first but close by these cute bantams were definitely new. We certainly found plenty of colour in the greenhouse as plants under cover were flowering way ahead of their normal time.

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Leaving the greenhouse area back through the blue gates we could see that the productive gardens had made a lot of progress since our visit in April. Gooseberries were fruiting and rows of vegetable plants were now established. The sunshine brought out the colours in the borders along the walls.

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We just had to stop to admire these beautifully pollarded willows, now regrowing strongly. The Cirsium rivulare was in full bloom and looked good against the old garden buildings.

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Along the fourth side of the walled garden the light was so bright that colours seemed extra vibrant and exciting.

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For the first time this year there was interest in the Rose Garden with groundcover beneath the roses in flower and indeed the first roses were open and giving the gift of their scent to anyone passing by.

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After leaving the walled garden we wandered around castle itself where we enjoyed tempting views over the meadows to the lake and countryside beyond.

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The open gate into the meadows was just too tempting for us. We followed a mown path through the wildflowers.

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Croft is well-known for its ancient Sweet Chestnut trees. We were fascinated by the texture of the bark on this group.

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Our next visit in June will be the half way mark through our year of visiting Croft Castle gardens.



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Yellow Book Gardens 2 – Radnor Cottage

Our second visit to an NGS Yellow Book garden for 2015 was just a few days after the first of the year to Bury Court Farmhouse, and was to a garden in South Shropshire near to the village of Clun.

Radnor Cottage sits on a steep hillside with broad views over the countryside. We visited on a bright sunny day with temperatures in the upper teens and this surprising Spring weather brought out lots of garden visitors.

We hadn’t been to Radnor Cottage for many years so really couldn’t remember what to expect. The garden owners described it as a semi-wild woodland garden so the plants of this season looked good in their setting. As we walked slowly up the steep gravel driveway we spotted wetland areas to our right and a mini-arboretum to our left, but we passed these by in search of the sign indicating “TEAS”.

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While fetching the teas I spotted this bright yellow leaved Berberis which we were pleased to see looked so fresh and lively as we have just planted one in our front garden in the Hot Garden. We enjoyed our tea and cake sat among a vast array of containers planted up with Sempervivums and other cushion alpines.

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I have a soft spot for Celandines so I just had to stop for a close look at this double form.

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We began our tour of the garden meandering up a steep slope with typical Spring planting among the close cut grass. We liked the juxtaposition of the formal box balls and the gentle naturalistic planting on the grassed bank. William Robinson would have enjoyed this garden! Species Tulips, Anemones, Muscari and other spring bulbs were to be discovered from the narrow gravel paths.

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We found a little veggie patch hidden behind a beech hedge.

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We then moved back down the drive to explore the wet area with a series of pools beneath old trees. Banks of daffodils flanked the grass paths. These grass paths appeared as we rounded corners presenting a choice of ways to go each time.

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Leaving the wetland we crossed the gravel drive and entered the mini-arboretum. Buds were bursting and bark glowing in the sunshine.

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Apart from the fact that it was on a steeply sloping hillside, we could not remember the garden at Radnor Cottage at all, so it was just as if we were visiting it for the first time.

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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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Shropshire Architecture – Part 1. A Taste of Ludlow

This series of posts all about architecture in Shropshire is in response to a challenge after a fellow blogger’s request for some photos of architecture. So Margie, if no-one likes these it is all your fault! Only joking!

A morning in Ludlow to visit a craft exhibition in which our daughter was showing her silver jewelery (see earlier posting), afforded us a few hours to walk a few of the narrow streets of this South Shropshire market town. This is a taste of some more detailed posts to come both of Ludlow and other towns and villages of our county.

A “taste of Ludlow” means different things to different people. For foodies the first ideas to spring to their minds, or stomachs, will be the number of restaurants with Michelin Stars and Egon Ronay mentions. Ludlow to many is the capital city of food, bettered only by London. But it is only a small market town. To historians and the architecturally minded it would be the buildings that popped up. Ludlow is well-known for ancient buildings going back in history for centuries. The streets boast a juxtaposition of styles and ages. Facades hide older gems.

Ludlow was the UK’s first town ever to be designated a “Slow City”.

Saturday is a busy time for the streets of Ludlow so most of these pics are looking up to avoid traffic and people.

The most important building in Ludlow though is really the Orvis Store where us fishermen can buy our fly fishing gear.

Most streets here are steep, some very steep! It is so lucky that there are lots of coffee shops as well as gourmet restaurants.

Here is a fine example of Ludlow’s hidden gems. This ancient window and patch of wall sits inside a much later building.

To most people especially calendar designers, holiday tour operators, the writers of gazeteers of the towns of England and TV crews, Ludlow is known for this one old building. The Feathers Hotel is featured in so many books and magazines. The path opposite it is worn away by the feet of photographers! It is pretty good but there is so much more!

There is even the odd modern piece of corporate architecture hidden away behind the historic street frontages and away from tourists’ glances. The new library and museum building is impossible to find, signed from nowhere but quite a handsome building of its type.

Ludlow architecture holds little details to delight the photographer’s lens. Just look through open gateways and up alleyways and there they hide.

And so I can only hope this little taster showing the variety that exists within the architecture of Ludlow will leave you wishing for more. If not there is more on its way anyway! I am thinking “Gates, Doors and Windows”, “Little Details”, ……………