Aiming for a year round garden – our garden in September

We hosted the final visit by a garden group to our garden for the year at the beginning of this month. We were pleased that there was still plenty of interest for our friends from the South Shropshire Mini-group of the Hardy Plant Society.

As usual we shall start this month’s wander in the front garden. In the gateway our pink pelargoniums continue to flower below our house nameplate on our gatepost.

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The “Chatto Garden” is beautiful every day of every year and today is no exception. The red leaf blades of the grass, Imperata cylindrica “Red Baron”,  seem more colourful in the late summer sun. Nearby the dying flowers of the Agapanthus “Black Panther” still glow blue against the biscuit colours of the grasses.

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The first of our many Michaelmas Daisies are now flowering and close by our latest small tree, a wonderful Acer pectinatum, with red stems and leaf petioles has settled well.

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The other front garden borders still have plenty of interest to look at.

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By our front door the shrub, Buddleja lindleyana continues to flower on after many months. Also in our Freda Garden the strange yellow flowers of Kirengeshoma palmata are on the verge of opening into its bell shaped blooms. These two unusual flowers grow side by side and look beautiful together with their complimentary yellow and blue.

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In the back garden the Shed Border is still punctuated by the yellow spires of the Verbascum which look even brighter with the red hybrid tea rose blooming alongside. Even more colourful is the Tropical Garden with this star shaped Dahlia starring with Ricinus. The bee arrived at the very centre of this Dahlia just as I pressed the shutter button.

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Next to the hot colours of the Tropical Garden the pastel shades of our Sweet Peas that clamber up the wall trellis cool things down a little.

In the Rill Garden the red-flowered Clematis flowers of Hagley Hybrid clamber around behind the succulent reddish-black leaved Aeonium affording a fiery combination.

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In the seaside garden the airy Cosmos plants still flower profusely in whites and pale pinks.

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The little Pollinators Bed on either side of the Insect Hotel still displays a few flowers such as the white Lychnis coronaria and the last few petals hang onto the Leonotis which now shows its cylindrical seed heads. Close by our grapes are colouring up promising tasty, juicy fresh fruits soon. Another brown seed head  of the Eryngium “Miss Wilmott’s Ghost” is now full of black seeds ripe and ready to drop to the soil to produce next year’s plants.

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The Secret Garden always provides plenty of colour interest and variety of texture. Geranium Rosanne seems to be perpetually in flower and it looks particularly good with grasses. Our Aesculus x mutabilis “Induta” has a few seeds forming and as they ripen little shining brown “conkers” show in the cracking cases.

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In the Spring Garden Rosanne stars again and the final few flowers of Cosmos polidor look golden against the silver of the Betula’s silver trunk. Close by in the Chicken Garden apples await harvesting and Miscanthus grasses colour up attractively.

 

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I shall finish with two special plants, an Acer turning buttercup yellow and Persicaria amplexicaule rosea.

 

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After finishing this post the garden seemed to change as autumn approached, so I decided to take a few photos right at the end of the month to illustrate how the garden changes with time, sometimes a short time. So look out for a colourful gallery in Part Two.

Posted in autumn colours, colours, fruit and veg, garden design, garden photography, gardening, gardens, grasses, half-hardy perennials, hardy perennials, light quality, ornamental grasses, ornamental trees and shrubs, Shropshire, South Shropshire, Yellow Book Gardens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shropshire Steam – Part 2 – horse power and steam power on parade

I hinted at the end of part one that we would be looking at horse power and steam power for the second part. So this I shall endeavour to do but doubtless I shall have a diversion along the way.

After being enthralled by all those vintage tractors and their associated sundries I  featured in the first Shropshire Steam post, we found a couple of seats just behind the rope that marked the display ring.

We were soon joined by this little chap who was sat on his master’s knee on the seat next to us. He eyed up our lunch and made us feel guilty eating it in front of him.

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Working horses in all their show finery strolled around the ring under the scrupulous eyes of the judges.

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We stayed longer than we had planned as a collection of vintage trucks in every colour and shape possible entered the ring.These in their original lives had carried all sorts of goods around the countryside. Some brought back memories but many were around  before us.

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And a collection of old buses came next. We were enjoying ourselves more and more and sharing memories of bus travel.

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And a couple of old fire engines added a little glamour.

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But I did promise some steam vehicles, so here they are in all their glory and finery. They not only looked majestic and magical, they also smelled wonderful too. Steam, hot metal, oil and coal smoke.

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Sometimes the beauty is in the detail.

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We enjoyed this little cameo, a set up showing road works from decades ago. Jude was specially interested as when we followed our family history research we discovered that one of her ancestors was a roadman. He may have used materials and machines just like these.

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We always take a special interest and pride in seeing the old steam lorries as many of them were manufactured in Shrewsbury at the Sentinel Works. So these four photos are a good way to finish this second visit to the Shropshire Steam Rally.

 

 

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Posted in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, steam power, steam traction engines | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Shropshire Steam Rally Part 1- steam power and tractors

Jude and I had not visited the Shropshire Steam Rally for over 20 years so once we decided to attend this year’s show we were looking forward to seeing how things have changed.

The first change was the length of the traffic jam full of people waiting to get in. Once parked up the queue of people was also extremely long but once we got in the rich aroma of hot oil, steam and coal smoke reminded us that not everything had changed.

We were soon greeted by a strange array of characters.

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We decided to pass through the trade stands, of which there were many, on our way to the displays of old tractors, working horses and then the steam vehicles themselves. But there were so many trade stands we took an age to find out way back out. It was worth all the searching though.

Before being enthralled by watching the mobile sawmill powered by a sturdy steam traction engine we were entertained by this steam organ. None of the operators wore safety gloves and the machinery had no guards, so there was definitely no health and safety executive watching their every move. How refreshing! But we did count how many fingers they all had. All present and correct!

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The next vehicle to catch our attention was powering a road stone crushing and grading machine. The owners of this old conglomeration of machines and artifacts and their friends who had come along to put on the working display were in a “bit of a flap” as it had ground to a halt. Busily each man searched for the breakage or cause of the break down, heads down, eyes peeled and brains working hard. Visitors watched on, willing them on and hoping to see and hear the cogwheels grinding once more.

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And the next pair were powering threshing machinery. One of these was also proving to be temperamental throwing the bails of hay out in random bunches with a “cat’s cradle” of string wrapped around instead of neatly tied cuboid-shaped bails. The other slowly trundled along more successfully.

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Next it was off to wander the lines of old tractors – I have to admit I have a soft spot for old tractors particularly the red Massey Fergussons and the Fordsons in their livery of contrasting deep blue and rich orange. But there was a fascinating line-up of tractors of all ages and from all over the world. It was great to see some working with their varying engine sounds and exhaust notes.

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A few bits and pieces of agricultural paraphenalia added an air of nostalgia.

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I loved getting in close to the vintage farm machinery and picking out detailing of colours, patterns and textures.

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Fergie Foraging – when we hunt for mushrooms and toadstools in autumn woodlands and fields we call it Fungi Foraging or Fungi Foray so as we went seeking out Massey Fergusson tractors in the forest of vintage tractors I thought we should call it Fergie Foraging or going on a Fergie Foray. Whatever we call it it was most successful.

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But there were plenty of others which although not Fergies were just as interesting to the eye and to the memory.

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As we left the tractor display area we came across this old craftsmen who certainly looked the part. He was a “bodger” which although is now often a derogatory term for a poor worker, in reality it was a skilled job, making the staves for the back of chairs, turning wood on a foot pedaled machine. He was skilled both as a craftsman and as a communicator. He kept the children amused while educating them at the same time. Great to watch and listen to!

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To finish with here is just a small hint of what we can look forward to in part two.

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Posted in colours, countryside, Shropshire | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Are you sitting comfortably? Part 3 in this very occasional series.

So back again with another set of photographs showing the latest batch of garden seats I have enjoyed finding and sitting on. I have tried them all out purely in the name of research not because I am a weary garden visitor! And of course Jude the Undergardener has checked them all too. You will see in the one photo that she particularly likes trying out seats in gardens where tea and cakes are available! The first group of seats, including the one in the tea garden are high up in the Welsh hills in the NGS garden at Bryn Lidiart.

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In our neighbouring county of Herefordshire the gardens at Bryan’s Ground the home of the best gardening journal, Hortus, there are seats aplenty. Around the arboretum the seats give plenty of opportunities to take in the calm, restful atmosphere.

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Others dotted around the various garden compartments afford the visitor secluded viewing places.

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But we would have been in for some surprises if we had tried to sit on this collection!

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The final photo from this interesting Herefordshire garden is taken from a seat rather than of one. In the cafe area here you can enjoy tea and home made cakes while browsing through back issues of Hortus. Luxury!

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I shall conclude this the third in my very occasional series on garden seating with a very varied selection from other gardens we have visited this year.

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Who knows what part four will bring and who knows how long it will be in coming.

 

Posted in garden design, garden furniture, garden photography, garden seating, gardening, gardens, gardens open to the public | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Scented Pelargoniums

When we visited the wonderful Herefordshire garden, Hergest Croft, we entered the garden by taking a route that took us through an old conservatory to find it full of one of our favourite families of plants, the scented Pelargoniums.

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We have a small collection at home which we display on a set of old library steps at the side of the woodstore so that we can rub their leaves as we collect logs or as we pass to go to the back garden.

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The collection at Hergest Croft was much bigger and more varied. It took a long time to rub a leaf of each and savour the scents reminiscent of mints and fruits. But there was great variety in the texture of the leaves too, from the softest velvet, through soft and waxy to rough and coarse.

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These two were so heavily scented and their leaves so textured it hardly mattered that they had such insignificant blooms.

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There were a few Pelargoniums which were from a different family, I think they are Regals but I can’t be sure. The dark flowered one is “Lord Bute”. We were fascinated by the one pink petal on the one flower of the white bloom presumably caused by a virus. A great collection and a most welcoming start to a garden visit. We left the conservatory to discover the delights of Hergest Croft especially its rare and champion trees.

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Posted in garden buildings, gardening, gardens, gardens open to the public, indoor plants | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Cliveden – the house and garden of Nancy Astor

While holidaying around Cambridge earlier in the year we stopped off on our travels to have a wander around the gardens at Cliveden, the one time home of Nancy Astor. She was an English MP even though American born. Her second marriage was to Waldorf Astor who inherited to a peerage and entered the House of Lords. Nancy was the first ever woman to be a member of the House of Commons, but also gained notoriety as a Nazi supporter.

Her garden turned out to be a garden planted in a style we do not actually like but definitely “of its time”. We are definitely not fans of formal gardens or bedding schemes and here we found both but viewed from an historic perspective they were interesting. Classical figures, topiary and “grand fountains” are also not my style but Jude the Undergardener, being more of a history buff doesn’t mind them.

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Interestingly close up the bedding proved to be of orange gazanias rather than the begonias or pelargoniums we expected.

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But bordering the bedding scheme central feature was a long mixed border, much more to my liking.

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Things were looking up soon however as we passed through an opening in the yew hedging and discovered a tree unknown to me in the woodland.

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Little areas of meadow lined the pathway down through the woodlands. Gnarled branches of old shrubs curled around on the grass near the paths.

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The old rose garden has been revamped recently with newer more disease resistant varieties, so inevitably most are from David Austin. The colours of the blooms have been chosen to represent sunrise and sunset.

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The buildings clustered in the centre of the grounds were rambling and sat beautifully within its setting. In particular it had interesting chimneys and towers which look good against the clear blue sky. Towers even featured in the walled garden.

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The walled garden, with its patterned brickwork, featured beautifully planted herbaceous borders around a highly manicured lawn. The plants were mainly recent cultivars and chosen for their richness of colour.

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From the courtyard as we leaned on its stone ballustrade we could see the Italianate parterre placed within more manicured lawns. They seemed to sit rather awkwardly there.

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We finished our Cliveden wanderings in the Water Gardens where formal fountains and oriental buildings sit among informal pools and soft planting.

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Posted in garden design, garden photography, garden pools, gardening, gardens, gardens open to the public, hardy perennials, Italian style gardens, meadows, National Trust, ornamental trees and shrubs, roses, sculpture, The National Trust, trees, water garden, water in the garden, woodland, woodlands | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Portmeiron – the work of an eccentric.

We always enjoy spending the day at this crazy, quirky and totally exuberant “garden” on the Welsh coast near Portmadoc. Portmeiron is a village and gardens created by the eccentric Clough William-Ellis who bought the site in 1925 and then spent the following 50 years developing it into what we can visit and enjoy today.

The village is a collection of buildings  reminiscent of an Italianate style. Every wall is brightly painted in an array of extravagant colours. Some are hotels or holiday cottages, others restaurants and cafes while others are shops and galleries. It is a busy little place sitting on a strip of land below the Lleyn Penninsula and it fits snuggly between the beach and a wooded slope.

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In between the collection of crazy buildings a team  of gardeners work hard to maintain patches of colourful gardens. The soil is both shallow and full of stones and the land is on a steep slope so gardening here is a tough challenge. So come through the towering gateway and wander around with us.

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Although the Italianate style of the buildings that fascinates at first glance after a while the interesting juxtaposition of colours begins to catch the eye. Colours that you would not think of putting together when choosing paint for your home actually work beautifully.

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Although the bright colours dominate every scene once your eyes and mind adjust to them interesting details come to the fore, such as these bright blue ironwork, a relief sculpture alongside a ring, classical figures, the beauty of this stone archway and the vintage petrol pump.

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We took a break from the colourful conglomeration of buildings and ambled along through the wooded slopes above the village itself. Here we discovered ancient trees native and cultivated and an atmosphere of peace, with restful greens and relative silence, broken only by the calls and song of birds.

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We followed the woodland path until we found ourselves close to the cliff tops and followed it down towards the shore, where the buildings began again. This time they had a maritime twist to their architecture with white and blue colours dominating.

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As the road way climbed upwards we returned to the brightly coloured buildings of the village.

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We were fascinated by the interest of some visitors in particular buildings which it appears were featured in a TV series from the 1960’s, The Prisoner, which still has a strong cult following. It adds yet another layer of interest to this utterly fascinating “one-off” place.

Posted in architecture, buildings, colours, garden buildings, gardens, gardens open to the public, Italian style gardens, Wales, woodland, woodlands | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments