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Are you sitting comfortably – no 14 in a very occasional series

Back with another set of garden seats for you to enjoy. Imagine yourself taking a seat for a rest, to take in the view and appreciate the comfort of the seats themselves.

Firstly let me share a few seats from the gardens at Ivy Croft in Herefordshire, a garden open for its huge snowdrop collection and interesting winter plants.

We recently visited John’s Garden attached to Ashwood Nursery in the West Midlands, and being in February seats became very obvious features. They varied so much in style!

Next I want to share with you seats from the gardens at Erddig, a Welsh National Trust property.

So that is it for this collection of garden seats. More to follow in the future!



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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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The Dingle Garden in April

We made our April visit to this year’s chosen garden for monthly visits expecting to enjoy all the freshness of early spring. How wrong could we be! The day dawned cold and misty and as we walked around the gravel paths we got more damp with each step as we were walking in a gentle mist. We felt as if we were wandering around the garden on a typical November day definitely not an April day.

Mist hung among the trees and rain droplets hung from buds and branches.

We expected to be able to enjoy early flowering shrubs like rhododendrons and azaleas, but there were just a few as the seasons are still lagging behind. A beautiful bright yellow flowered Berberis really brightened the gloom and an orange flowered variety glowed through the shrubs like beacons. Both of these Berberis added a little welcome scent to the walk.


Some Rhododendrons were flowering well while others still showed tight buds. At this time of year every little flower on the shrubs is so powerful.


We made our way down towards the lake enjoying the misty views out across the water. When we arrived at the bankside we walked the perimeter and all the way we could see the glow of the yellow-flowered Skunk Cabbage growing on the water’s edge.


As we wandered back along the gravel paths we spotted odd flowering perennials and bulbs giving patches of colour in the shade of the shrubs.


We were once again surprised by the lack of changes on this month’s visit, but as with anything to do with Mother Nature there was plenty for us to look at and consider. Perhaps on our next visit, which will be in May, we will experience the presence of spring.

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The Dingle Garden in Welshpool – February

Back to Welshpool to explore The Dingle Gardens for February, we expected little change since our January visit as the weather had remained very similar.

We were greeted by a stunning wooden owl sculpture! Soon we noticed there were lots of signs of new growth, buds forming on trees and shrubs and a few beginning to burst into leaf.


Rhodendrons and Azaleas have strong looking buds both leaves and flowers showing well.


Some of the many small evergreen shrubs are showing off new fresh growth with Hebes sporting new coloured foliage along with some conifers who show off new coloured needles.

We spotted one Buddleja which was holding onto seed heads from last autumn alongside fairly advanced fresh silver foliage. We wondered what would happen to this growth if a frost suddenly covered it.

A few plants had splashes of green showing where leaf buds were beginning to burst, especially Hydrangeas


We didn’t expect to come across many flowers but there were a few to delight the eye and sometimes the nose too.




The bracts and tiny flowers of Euphorbias were brightening up showing glaucous and lime green colours.


So February proved to be more interesting than we had predicted. We hope to see the first signs of spring on our next visit in March.



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The Dingle Gardens Welshpool – January

Here we are back visiting our chosen garden each month, with our garden for 2018 being the attached garden at The Dingle Nurseries near Welshpool. This garden is of a totally different scale, atmosphere and style to Attingham Park, our garden for 2017. The garden is open every day of the year bar Christmas Day and on odd days the fees go to the National Garden Scheme.

The nursery is stocked with perennials, shrubs and trees but specialises mostly in the last two, and it is from here that we tend to buy our trees and shrubs. This is a nursery we are delighted to have on our dooorstep. As we move through the entrance we always enjoy the displays of plants with current interest and similarly plants for winter interest and displayed in the first few rows of plants.


So, here we are on the 14th January with our first visit to our new garden, arriving on a dull lightly overcast day. Having never visited before this deep into winter, we entered through the wooden gate green with algae and followed the gravel paths into the garden, not quite knowing what to expect. We enjoy surprises in the gardens we visit!

Evergreens both coniferous and broadleaves lined the paths and are planted in thoughtful groupings. In the first photo a dark, glossy leaved Pittosporum “Tom Thumb” sits comfortably with a Euphorbia, a Brachyglottis and a Hebe. In the second picture two conifers illustrate how different they can be in texture, colour and form.


Early in our wanderings we found this lovely rustic seat which is slowly being eroded away by the weather. Close by the seat glowed the pale green flowers of a Helleborus foetidus.


Hydrangeas appear throughout the garden in the autumn showing their colourful inflorescences in pinks, white and blues, while throughout the winter these colours fade to biscuits, gingers and ivory. In some flowers hints of blues and pinks remain.


Out of season flowers appear here and there on odd shrubs, on others leaf buds promise fresh growth in the spring while berries hang as remnants of their winter harvest.

When tree surgery work is carried out in the Dingle Garden logs are left as habitats for the many forms of wildlife that maintain a healthy ecosystem in the garden.


At the lowest point of the gardens a calm lake affords us a place to stop awhile to look around its banks. A bog garden at one end looks dull and dark at this time of year, with just the deep brown of dead leaves of Gunnera and Lysichiton americanus rising above the mud.

Recent heavy snowfall has caused damage to trees and shrubs, breaking branches of all sizes and crushing foliage. Strong winter winds have added to the damage.


To share more of my photos taken during our wandering and enjoyment of the gardens at the Dingle I have created the following gallery. Enjoy the pictures. The next visit to this garden will be in February.


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Are you sitting comfortably? Part 11 of a very occasional series.

Here we are back with a new selection of interesting and unusual garden seats, our 11th collection.

To start with I will share with you a selection of garden seats we discovered in the wonderful huge gardens at Bodnant, a National Trust Property in North Wales and then move on to another of their properties but this time much nearer home in the West Midlands, Hanbury Hall. All these seats were discovered within a week in November. We hope you enjoy the selection we have chosen for you.

Bodnant Garden

These three simple slate benches are beautifully placed matching their background of strata slate layers and the grey stone paving. They look very different whether they are wet or dry. They are pale greys when dry but much darker and glossier when wet. Their chunky design fits their place so well.

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Inside the garden we wandered through the new Winter Garden and down towards the dingle, a wooded steep valley with a stream running through it. All the seats were quite ordinary designs manufactured from wood, including one that is reminiscent of an Edwin Lutzen’s design, but they were made special by their placements either raised up, surrounded by harmonious plantings and all giving beautiful views across the garden. These view points allowed us to look at close up garden plantings, larger borders or even long views along the valley or over tree tops.

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These last two pics show seating deeper in wooded areas and illustrate how well seats sit in their environment when manufactured in the natural material of the place itself. Special secretive seating where birdsong shares the space with you.

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Hanbury Hall

Again the seats at Hanbury were often very simple and ordinaary in design but they are situated in very special places, special buildings, within special planting.

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So we have shared with you our selection of garden seats that we enjoyed in November. We hope you enjoyed sharing them with us. We enjoyed trying most of them out!


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Three Welsh Gardens – Part One -Tan y Llyn – a little nursery in a woodland garden.

We ventured along narrow winding lanes into the countryside of Powys our neighbouring county across the border into Wales. We were not the only ones out travelling these lanes on a mission on this sunny afternoon. Several members of the Shrewsbury Mini-Group, part of the Shropshire Group of the Hardy Plant Society, were meeting up at a woodland garden and nursery called Tan y Llyn.

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The weather was bright. There is no better day to visit a woodland garden than a sunny one as it enhances the contrast between shade and light so well. Even the most ordinary plants such as this Cotoneaster and Yew look so good.

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Any flowers in a woodland garden shine out from the shadows.

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Dotted around Tan y Llyn are interesting objects and well-composed cameos.

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Callum Johnston the garden owner also ran a little nursery specialising in alpines and herbs and he featured many of the plants for sale within a garden around his front door where plants were grown in a selection of pots and containers. They invited close inspection as did the sales benches close by in the shade of deciduous trees.

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We were particularly drawn to this dry river bed of pebbles winding through the gravel of the driveway near the cottage’s front door. We immediately began to plan where we could try something similar out at home.

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Callum admitted to an obsession – training, twisting and pruning willow into interesting structures. He also obviously loved hedge trimming where on occasion he lets his imagination run riot.

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Callum had even trained willows to become bird feeding stations. The birds certainly liked them as did our Hardy Plant friends. Callum and his partner Brenda served us up with cream teas under the shade of trees alongside these feeders so as we reveled in our luxury teas we were entertained by the birds enjoying theirs.

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Nearby herbs grew in a terraced border and added their scent and spice to the conducive atmosphere. As with many garden owners who like to share their garden, Callum and Brenda knew how to make us feel comfortable and relaxed.

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A classic colour combination of yellow and blue attracted us. Closer to we realised that the yellow was provided by this stunning Lily.

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One effective design trick used here was the use of enticing paths and it was very well used.

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A final wander around these paths beneath and between the trees was called for after our tea and before we reluctantly left this special place in a wooded Welsh valley.

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Callum  accompanied us down the drive as he thanked us for visiting and for buying lots of plants. They were very good hosts. At the bottom of the drive we made one final discovery, another surprise conjured up by this truly unique garden. Another of Callum’s tricks with his pruners.

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