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A new NGS Yellow Book garden, Longden Manor

It is always exciting finding a new NGS garden to visit and when we find one that is just a few fields away as the crow flies it is extra interesting. Longden Manor with its organic farm still had to be driven to though and we seemed to drive in a big loop before we got to its field parking. As we drove up the drive to the field we were amused by several topiary pieces as well as a beautiful bright patch of Azaleas.

The Manor House itself sits in such a dominant place with wide sweeping views out across the Shropshire countryside. A huge lawn sits in front of the house ensuring a clear view, a view framed by large specimen trees.

New areas are being discovered all the time, old parts of forgotten gardens which are now being unearthed. It was a privilege to look at a pool and bog garden area just cleared and being prepared for planting. The pool has been reinstated already but it looks as if there will be exciting waterfalls and streams to follow.

From the newly discovered old pool we wandered through established woodland into a small orchard, an unusual holly orchard and kitchen garden.

I shall finish off my report of our visit to this new National Garden Scheme garden with another piece of topiary created to make you smile. A rather happy caterpillar!

 

 

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Gregynog Part 2 – the woodland walks

Here we are back at the NGS garden, Gregynog where you left us just starting out on our exploration of the park’s woodland. We wandered past the rose hedge along the gravel drive before turning off to the left along a gravel track which took us past mature trees, both conifers and deciduous, with an understorey of shrubs. Autumn colours were beginning to show in their foliage.

  

Acers beneath the tree canopy provided bright splashes of colour.

   

We soon found ourselves having to cross over the driveway to enter the woodands and almost immediately came across the lake. We began to meet several other couples and families taking advantage of the weather and the woodland trails, as well as a few more serious runners using the “Green Gym”. We took the path that took us almost all around the lake and then took a side track, grassed underfoot, into the woodland itself. We walked beneath mature wrinkled Birches which let plenty of light through to allow an understory to grow away happily.

        

After walking half a mile into the woodland the pathsides were a mass of tall growing golden leaved brackens. The tallest were the same height as Jude, the Undergardener.

On the wood floor beneath the trees a carpet of colourful fallen leaves gave a soft surface for us to walk on.

A final surprise were the dens built around and against the tree trunks by young visitors enjoying the special woodland atmosphere.

Leaving the woodland we could see the hall through the trees, and then we discovered the “Green Gym”, where wooden gym structures awaited the fit and healthy visitors.

So that was our day out at Gregynog, a completely new garden to us and one we would enjoy visiting again.

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The Dingle Garden in December

Here we are with the final report of our monthly visit to the Dingle Gardens near Welshpool. As we drove down to Welshpool the weather just could not make its mind up what it was going to do, sunny with blue skies one minute, showers of cold rain the next. But once we were actually wandering around the gravel paths of the garden, it settled and we had a dry period for most of our walk. A few minutes of rain arrived just as we finished.

The light was dull and we noticed how variegated plants really came into their own. Gold and green, silver and green, grey and green in every possible combination and patterns. Just see in the first photo how the variegated shrub across the lawn shines out against darker foliaged trees and shrubs.

         

Variegation in conifers fails to impress me, as sadly it just looks like a bird has been perched above the foliage for a while! See what you think!

 

Variegated groundcover plants are very effective in the woodland garden as they brighten up dull areas. Silver variegation create mirror effects reflecting any light that gets through the tree canopy.

  

The raindrops hung around on glaucous foliage and we were surprised just how many plants in this woodland garden displayed glaucous leaves. Variegated foliage adds extra bright spots to woodland patches but glaucous foliage creates gentle subdued spots.

 

The oldest surviving plants in the UK are the ferns, lichens and mosses and they love the damp atmosphere of the sloping woodland garden here at The Dingle. They add such beautiful shades of bright green and bluish tints, but a few go golden and ginger as winter takes a deeper grasp on the garden.

         

Berries that were at their most prolific during the autumn months remain in evidence but only just hanging on in ones or twos.

 

Coloured bark adds interest to decorative trees in the winter and those that peel and drop sheets of their bark are even more interesting.

   

So, after twelve visits to the woodland garden at The Dingle near Welshpool, we come to the end of this year of visits. Next year we will begin a new series of garden visits. But for now I shall finish this series with a few general views of different parts of the woodland gardens.

    

 

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A family holiday in Scotland – Part 4 – Dawyck Botanic Gardens

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.

 

 

 

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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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Crug Farm – a planthunter’s woodland garden

We had not visited Crug Farm garden and nursery for several years, so taking advantage of our return journey from Anglesey we took a short detour to explore this woodland garden in Snowdonia. Driving into the little car park the yellow and orange poppies, Meconopsis cambrica, gave us a warm welcome.

I will now simply invite you to walk with us along the paths at Crug Farm sharing the atmosphere and the beautifully designed planting schemes, by following my gallery. Just click on the right arrow and navigate through using the arrows.

 

We left the woodland garden through a gateway that lead to the nursery set within a small walled garden. We enjoyed a walk around studying a large range of plants collected by owners the Bleddyn-Jones’. Of course we bought several to add to our shade borders.

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The Dingle Garden in May

We planned our fifth visit to the Dingle Gardens near Welshpool for the 23rd May and intended to go whatever the weather. Our April visit was on a day more typical of November than April so the photos I took were rather unusual for a garden in spring.

However for our May visit the sun shone, the sky was clear blue and the warmth allowed us to have a very leisurely stroll around the garden. We had so far this year seen little change from month to month as spring was on hold but this May visit was a strong contrast. We found the garden rich in flowering shrubs and strong fresh growth everywhere.

My first set of pics show paths we followed and the views from them.

  

A real surprise was the explosion of colour provided by the Rhododendrons whose buds we have featured over the first few months of the year. The brightest of reds, oranges, pinks plus cerise hues and shades of white sat together sometimes in harmony but often clashing!

Contrasting and strong coloured foliage provides as much interest as flowers at this time of year as all deciduous foliage is fresh and lively.

        

Ferns are an exciting element in the woodland or shade garden in May as fresh fronds unfurl and open to reveal strongly textured and patterned foliage.

    

I shall finish this visit report for our May wanderings around the Dingle Garden with a few general shots taken near the lake at the bottom of the sloping garden, showing the variation in foliage apparent in the trees and shrubs. We can now look forward to what June at the Dingle will have to offer.

 

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Early Spring Light in a Woodland Garden

March at the Dingle woodland garden at The Dingle and Nursery near Welshpool proved to be a time with special light when the sun appeared for odd periods. I am sharing some of my photos taken of the landscape and the light playing with it. I hope you enjoy them!

     

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

As summer moved on we made our August visit to Attingham Park for our monthly walk in the park. We decided to follow the Mile Walk in reverse for a change of view and as we were expecting rain later in the afternoon we kept to the shortest trail that we take. This turned out to be a wise decision because the rain started to fall when we had just a 5 minute walk back to the carpark. Our luck was in!

When we arrived we struggled to find a parking space as it was so busy being a mid-summer weekend afternoon but we found out later that it was also weekend when a special event was taking place, a Family Spectacular.

We decided to follow the One-Mile Walk in the opposite direction than the way we usually take and indeed against the signs. We are always amazed how following a path through a garden or the countryside in a reverse direction presents whole new experiences.

What struck us most as soon as we started the walk was the way the texture of tree bark was standing out. This mighty conifer was right at the start of our walk and showed it perfectly.

 

We also began to identify the shape of eyes on tree trunks where side boughs had fallen or been removed. This can be seen below in that same tree.

I will now share my texture photos with you in the form of a gallery and we can look at how much variety of texture and pattern we managed to find.

The almost circular scars left as a bough breaks away from the main trunk often form eye-like shapes, and on this walk we seemed to see so many. Enjoy a little selection below.

  

As we searched tree trunks for “eyes” we began to find other shapes and colours as well, some from Lichens and some created by the hands of woodsmen or gardeners. I will leave it up to you to work out how these creations happened.

    

An added and very unexpected element to our August visit was the discovery of painted stones. This stone decorated with a beautiful little flower we found in a scar of a tree and wondered what it was doing there. We soon discovered the answer by turning the stone over where we were advised to check out “Shropshire Stones” on Facebook. If you want to know more check it out.

   

Continuing on the creative front we made another interesting surprise discovery as we wandered through the children’s playing field on our way to the orchard and walled garden.

The Walled Garden was so colourful with the main feature being the flowers. We will look at the surprise in the playing field and the walled garden in Part 2.

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The Gardens at Hurdley Hall

We are so lucky to live where we do in so many ways, not least of which is the number of excellent gardens we can visit within a day. Recently on a Sunday we found a garden open under the auspices of the National Garden Scheme, the same scheme that our garden is a part of, and this one at Hurdley Hall was just over a half hour drive away.

We parked up in a rough pasture field alongside a farm and trudged uphill to the garden itself entrance. We obtained our tickets and walked down the drive which fell steeply to the garden itself, but this did afford us excellent glimpses of what we could expect so our expectations were heightened. Apart from the garden encompassing the house there were meadows, a new orchard and woodland to explore so we were in for a busy afternoon.

The house itself was first built in 1630 with additions made in 1718, 1820 and 2010. The garden was just 15 years old. The view from the house and garden was of a wooded valley and a steep hill which is a nature reserve.

 

Where we sat to enjoy the views with tea and cake we were close to a very colourful herbaceous border, displaying interesting colour combinations. The garden also boasted a small kitchen garden with raised beds and a shaded area with pond.

       

To one side of the house a more formal area contrasted well with the softer plantings we had seen so far. Lots of pale stonework and blue flowers gave this area its own character, almost Mediterranean.

   

After enjoying a slow wander around the garden under a baking sun we followed a sign for the meadows. We passed through a gateway and followed close cut grass paths through the meadow which gave us views of a newly planted orchard and woodlands. Come with us through the six-bar wooden field gate and explore the meadows and woods by following my gallery, which finishes off this visit to this wonderfully atmospheric garden and the land beyond.

To follow the gallery click on the first photo then navigate with the arrows.