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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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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 December

We made our monthly visit to Attingham Park, our last one for 2017, just as Christmas was making itself known at this National Trust property. Before we even reached the coffee shop for our usual warm drink to get us fueled up for our walk, we had been met by a snowman, a Christmas tree and we were entertained to some 1940’s music and dancing. The hall was decorated in a 1940’s style so the dancing set the scene.

 

The trees were decorated with wartime decorations, based on the idea of “make and make do”, as were the decorations in the coffee shop, where paper chains were made from newspaper. The trees were themed with one based on children’s games from the 1940’s and another was book based.

 

We came across a few other Snowmen, as we followed the one-mile trail, to amuse us on this chilly day. I managed to get around this month without my wheelchair as my recovery from leg surgery is coming along nicely. I walked the mile using a crutch which was very pleasing and rewarding!

      

Wandering through the woodland areas beneath tall mature trees, we noticed that a few browned leaves were managing to hang on to the branches but the majority were bare skeletons. These frameworks of trunks, branches and twigs were magnificent with no green leaves to hide their structure.

   

New buds were already waiting patiently on some branches anticipating spring far off on the horizon, while on other neighbouring trees a few dried leaves hung on. One patch of trees still showed some green in its canopy. A few old seed pods hung on having defied the storms, rains and gales of autumn, seed heads of trees, shrubs and perennial plants.

 

  

We wandered around the walled garden now virtually clear of crops, leaving hazel pole structures bare of the bean plants that once adorned them. The volunteer staff here are adept at creating beautiful and original plant structures.

   

A green flowered cauliflower had recently been attacked by frost, so had browned a little. Celeriac though recently cropped awaited storage.

 

The gardeners’ bothy was simply decorated but full of atmosphere, added to by the gardeners and volunteers enjoying their break so the aroma of freshly brewed coffee mingled with the smell of wood smoke.

Whatever time of year you explore the countryside, parkland or even more so a garden, there are always surprises awaiting. An out of season flower, a bud bursting at an inappropriate time or sadly at times the sudden death of a favourite plant. Two surprises were awaiting us at Attingham this December. First were lemon yellow catkins hanging fresh and healthily from hazel shrubs. These are usually key features of the month of February. In December they provided a beautiful diversion for me and my camera lens!

The second surprise was a Rhododendron shrub in flower!

  

Now that we have explored the parkland at Attingham Park every month during 2017, we need to decide where our monthly visit will be next year. We need somewhere open all year and of interest every month too. We shall let you know in the new year! I hope you have enjoyed visiting Attingham with us each month during 2017.

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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.

 

 

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A Walk in the Park – Attingham Park – The Woodland Walk

Back to our March visit to Attingham Park when we decided to take the Woodland Walk Trail.

As we left the walled garden clumps of the clearest yellow daffodils lit up shadows beneath shrubbery.

We were anticipating expanding buds on some shrubs and trees and maybe a few in early leaf. We both love the sticky, brittle toffee coloured buds which are early to burst. Other buds shone bright green!

     

  

We soon encountered signs of the work of Storm Doris, a huge mature tree had been ripped from the ground. We imagined  how  frightening the sounds of the tree being torn and wrenched from the ground must have been. The gardeners had been hard at work tidying up the mess of her destruction.

Places that usually look boggy looked much wetter on this visit with tiny ditches and streams full of water and flowing into larger areas of clear standing water with wetland plants looking full of life and thriving.

 

We passed beneath mature deciduous trees as we followed the woodland trail. On the ground beneath them the bright green freshness of this year’s herbaceous growth shone out. But an even brighter red patch caught our attention, a small group of fungi.

       

We came out into the open, which appeared much brighter as as we left the trees behind, and made our way back across the deer park back towards the house.

A bridge took us over the river which was flowing quickly in a light flood. Weeping willow branches were being swept along and the water was lapping at the feet of a row of elderly pollarded willows. The pollards looked so sculptural.

Next month’s visit to Attingham Park should feature more signs of spring becoming established.

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A Walk in the Park – Attingham in January – Part Two – Woodland Walk

Back with the second part of our report of our January visit to Attingham Park we find ourselves taking the path into the woodland at this Shropshire National Trust property.

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When leaving the walled garden the visitor has the choice of two walks and we decided to follow the 3 mile “Woodland Walk” as the weather seemed set dry for the day. Next month when we make our February visit we will follow the “Mile Walk”.

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Just a short way into our walk we came across the “Burning Site” marked by a wooden deer complete with impressive antlers. We like gardens with a touch of humour so we were delighted to discover this family of owls created from wood offcuts left after trees surgery work. They were created by the gardeners as a competition. We loved them all!

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Walking in woodlands in the winter helps highlight textures and patterns not easily spotted when the trees and shrubs are in full leaf. The gentle colours of lichens and mosses are more easily appreciated too as they carpet tree trunks. Please follow the gallery below featuring bark textures and the colours of lichen and mosses. The texture of fallen trees is changed over the years by the huge array of hard-working fungi present in the woodlands. Without these fungi the fallen wood would pile up so the fungi’s function of breaking down the dead trees is essential to the well-being of the woodland ecosystem. Click on the first photo and navigate using the right hand arrow.

Woodland walks are made more interesting by the manner in which rays of light penetrate the canopy, creating patterns and patches of strong contrasting light.

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After enjoying exploring the woodland following the Woodland Walk way-marked path we cut back across the parkland to the house itself. First glimpse of the house is through a framework of Cupressus trees. To find this view we crossed over two stone bridges which took the path over water and the stonework attracted as much lichen as the tree trunks did.

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Our return to Attingham Park will be in February when we will look at the Walled Garden again and then follow the much shorter walk, the Mile Walk.

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A Walk in the Park – Part Two – The One Mile Walk

Returning to a second post about Attingham Park, we would like to introduce you to another part of this Shropshire National Trust property. The One Mile Walk was our chosen walk on a November afternoon visit to Attingham Park. We only had a short amount of time available as the light disappears far too early for us outdoor types at this time of year. Attingham will be our featured monthly visit during 2017 when we will chose one walk from the several available, clearly marked throughout the parkland and woodlands.

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We decided that our chosen walk would give us the chance to relish in the beauty of autumn, trees and autumnal sunlight all working together especially for us. Come with us and see!

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The Mile Long Walk begins close to the stableyards and is a circular walk which has distinctive characteristics for the clockwise or anti-clockwise directions. So far on our many ambles around this path we have always followed it in a clockwise direction, really simply because given a choice we always go clockwise. So for this visit we broke our habit and took off in the anti-clockwise direction, and we were amazed how different it not only looked but also felt.

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For a while we ambled riverside, getting glimpses of the shining blueness of the surface of the little river.

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Some trees look special in so many ways. Sweet Chestnuts grow as tall as giants reaching for the passing clouds so have a magnificent presence. They have deeply textured striated bark of delicate grey. On the floor below them they carpet the floor in golden long-fingers of leaves and the spiky cases of the nuts, mixed up like a tasty granola.

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Lime trees decorate the tips of their branches with delicate seeds partnered with seedleaf wings which have the translucence of clear local heather honey.

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The surprise trees for us though were the Tulip Trees which dropped their leaves at all stages from the palest green to the darkest brown. Combined with the unique leaf shape it all added up to a great carpet.

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We had to look all about us as there was so much going on to catch our attention, lovely tree silhouettes against the blue sky right down to dried multi-coloured fallen leaves which became kaleidoscopic like pictures as the beams of the sun kissed them.

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We would love you to come with us and explore the wonderful “One Mile Walk” at our favourite parkland, Attingham Park. As usual start the gallery by clicking on the first photo then navigate by clicking on the arrows.