Anne’s Garden

It is always special to visit a friend’s garden for the first time. Today with fellow Shropshire Hardy Plant Society members we visited the garden of our group chairman, Anne. She lives just over the Welsh border so we had but a forty minute journey.

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The pathway to the front door set the scene with plants jostling for position to make sure they were seen. I always believe this sort of way into a garden heightens the anticipation. You just know you are going to enjoy the garden and discover some real gems. This was just what happened.

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Anne greeted us at her door and from then on we had a very enjoyable afternoon exploring her little garden, drinking tea and relishing cakes. The garden had pathways wriggling beneath trees and shrubs giving the atmosphere of a small copse.

Anne’s garden illustrated the importance of growing trees in small gardens. So many small gardens are full of small plants which just makes you look down. Anne’s patch had your eyes rushing around, upwards, downwards and seeking out the next corner to peer around.

In the front garden Cercis “Forest Pansy”, Pyrus salifolius pendula and a splendid specimen of Cornus “Midwinter Fire” held the garden together.

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The weeping pear’s leaves were fully out and its pure white blossom showed off its black stamens. The Forest Pansy was way behind ,its bare black stems just starting to show bursting purple buds.

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I enjoyed the way so many different leaf shapes, colours and textures juxtaposed so happily.

 

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Being mid-April spring flowering bulbs added cheer to combat the grey skies of the day.

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Whenever I visit a garden I spot one of my favourite families of plants, the euphorbias. Anne had some fine euphorbias including E. mellifera a variety that we grow but have to take in during the winter as it just couldn’t survive our winter weather. Anne’s happily lived outside all year.

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Acers feature here too and mid-April is a good time to enjoy their fresh subtly coloured new foliage bursting from their buds.

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We have been looking for small Hostas recently to plant around a water feature situated close to a corner where two path meet. We were really taken with those we found growing in pots in a little shaded courtyard. Luckily they had labels on giving us ideas for our own planting.

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Anne’s garden is small in size but it has a mighty big heart! As the last set of photographs below show it is a garden full of interesting individual plants, original plant combinations and many appealing features. We had a great afternoon – thanks Anne.

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Three Winter Gardens – Part Two – Cambridge Botanic Gardens

We had never been to Cambridge before. Lots of people told us it is just like Oxford its parallel university city. We decided to put things right and find out for ourselves so spent a few days there. One day we spent in the University Botanic Gardens where we were keen to explore the winter garden as we had heard good things about it.

We were pleased we decided to visit both Cambridge and its botanic garden as we enjoyed both immensely. The Botanic Garden was good enough to make us plan to return in different seasons. If a garden impresses in winter then it will at any time.

So for part two of my “Three Winter Gardens” we shine the spotlight on Cambridge. Look out for a post in the near future looking at the rest of the garden in winter too.

We knew we were in for a treat for within the first 20 yards of our walk after passing through the gate we were mystified by a couple of plants we did not know.

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Luckily they were both labelled and I shall say what they are in my post about the gardens in general but first off to the Winter Garden. We were particularly keen to see this seasonal patch as it had been created in 1989 so now it is well established. Many gardens now boast winter borders or winter gardens and we have even created one on our allotment site in the communal areas, but these are mostly immature.

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Trees and shrubs give the impact in any winter garden often as here at Cambridge they are birches and willows.

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We were particularly impressed with the use of ground cover, an aspect we have not used very well in our allotment version. We were to learn so much and go home full of enthusiasm to develop effective ground cover in our allotment’s winter garden. Ivies, periwinkles and hellebores added so much. We already use hellebores but not ivies and periwinkles but they present so many opportunities, with all the varieties in leaf colour, variegation and shape in ivies and flower colours in the periwinkles. Bergenias and grasses together worked well in other places, because of their unusual foliage colours and contrasting leaf shape.

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This was a very effective colour combination which in any other season probably wouldn’t have worked. Daphne mezereum and Forsythia Lynwood. Of course the daphne also provided that other essential of any winter border – sweet scent. The sweetest scent of all came from another Daphne, Jacquelin Postill.

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The coloured stems of coppiced and pollarded Cornus (dogwoods) and Salix (willows) have to star in any winter garden and they certainly did here along with Rubus.

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Two gems worth a special mention are the winter flowering iris and the wonderful leaves of Arum italicum marmoratum.

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I shall finish with this photo looking back at the gently curving path through the winter border. The third of my winter garden visits will be to Anglesay Abbey, probably the best known and most polular of all the winter gardens in this country. We shall see if it deserves this accolade.

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Three Winter Gardens – Part One Dunham Massey

Every year we visit a winter garden but this year as a special treat to make up for such a wet, windy winter we decided to indulge ourselves by enjoying three. We aimed to visit Dunham Massey in Cheshire, Cambridge Botanic Garden and Anglesey Abbey.

The first was a National Trust property in Cheshire, Dunham Massey, a fairly recent addition to the new fashion of gardens designed to be at their best in the coldest time of the year.

When you approach the entrance to the winter garden here you pass an avenue of pleached trees with the most magical silhouettes. Years of heavy pruning has produced such interesting shapes.

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We visited Dunham Massey a few years ago when the Winter Gardens were first opened so we entered with great anticipation. A couple of small mixed borders of winter interest give hints of what is to come. We remembered passing an open woodland area with native narcissi beneath the immature trees before being confronted by the two massed plantings of of Betula utilis “Doorenbos” one of the best white trunked birches. On one side of us the birches were in rows on the other they were planted randomly. What a sight it was like walking into mist. Snowdrops beneath white birches bring cheer to any cold day.

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As in any winter garden scent plays an important role. Shrubs and bulbs team up to gently seduce the visitors with their various perfumes. Winter Honeysuckle, Viburnums, Cornus, Witch Hazels and Skimmias all have a part to play.

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We were caught by surprise when we found this startlingly white sculpture amongst the shrubs and bulbs.

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Other trees had bark to delight and catkins to enthrall.

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Bulbs have to star in any winter garden and here they are planted en masse under trees and amongst shrubs.

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At this time of year shadows are long and very noticeable features of any mature garden.

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Seed heads which have overwintered and survived to add interest now seem to attract the winter light. The best must be those found on various hydrangeas, with their dried flowers like parchment.

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I shall finish this visit with a few general views of borders to help give a sense of the atmosphere created by the National Trust’s gardeners at Dunham Massey.

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For our next winter garden we will be off to Cambridge where we will be taking a look at the University Botanic Garden.

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Aiming for a year round garden – early spring.

We looked at our garden in late winter to see if our aim of creating a garden with interest all year was paying off. Now in Early April things have changed a lot in the garden since our last look so I thought we could have a look at it in early spring. Are we getting there?

I shall start with a look out over our gravel garden, The Chatto Garden, which illustrates just how important Euphorbias are at this time of year. The second shot illustrates how our new border has developed since we planted it up earlier this year.

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Foliage is still a key element in early Spring including fresh foliage of newly emerging herbaceous plants.

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Plants don’t have to be new to be good! Just look at the old favourite shrub, the flowering currant – just ask the bees and they will say how important they are! And of course daffodils and muscari bring life to our spring gardens every year without fail. All bulbs give little splashes of colour to brighten the dullest spring day.

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Our Hellebores are still going strong.

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And now a quick visit to our Japanese Garden and the pond side border alongside. There is a lot of colour to find here.

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Our native Primrose is perhaps our favourite plant in our garden at this time of the year with the delicacy of its scent and colour. Other small flowers star before their larger neighbours take over the borders.

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The star plant in our garden for early spring has to be the Chatham Island Forget-me-Not, Myosotidium hortemsium, with the flowers in a shade of blue that is so intense it is impossible to describe in words or give labels to. It lives in our Shade Garden so we have to make an effort to go and see it. It deserves our effort.

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One part of the garden that we have given a spring clean to is the Seaside Garden which was in need of a face lift.

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And for a promise of scent and colour soon to come  we need to turn to the Viburnum family.

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There are just too many photos left so I shall move into a gallery for you to enjoy.

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Llandudno Sea Front and Back

We decided a visit to see the sea was a good idea. It would blow away the cobwebs of winter and give us a healthy dose of sea air. So off to North Wales we went, stopping off at Pensarn for a wander along the beach and then further along the coast to Llandudno where we wanted to visit a photography exhibition at the gallery, Oriel Mostyn.

Our beach wanderings featured in the post “Textures on the Beach”, but in this post we visit Llandudno. The photos were taken on my Galaxy phone’s camera, an excellent little machine. We started by visiting the gallery but after indulging in an excellent coffee brew the exhibition of photographs disappointed. We decided a walk along the town’s main street and along promenade would make up for the disappointment. We enjoyed the walk but we were oh so cold.

Enjoy a walk with me and my little camera starting in the coffee shop at the gallery, along the street and the promenade. You will have to imagine the biting wind making your eyes run and burning your cheeks. The late afternoon light created a blue haze over the seafront giving the photos an unusual feel to them.

From the gallery coffee shop window we could look down and over the town.

 

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Off into the cold walking against the wind along the main street.

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A side street took us back to the promenade with its strange palm trees opposite a street of tall hotels.

 

 

 

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The blue hue over all the buildings reflected the colour of the sea and sky.

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One last photo. This lady reminded me of the Anthony Gormley steel sculptures of his work, “Another Place” on the beach at Crosby. She looks as if she is deep in thought looking out to sea.

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Beach Textures

Off to the North Wales coast to blow away the cobwebs and breathe in some healthy sea air, we stopped off on our way to Llandudno at Pensarn to explore its pebbled shore and collect driftwood to make some mobiles with for our seaside garden at home. Spot the sloping horizons! A side effect of having one leg shorter than the other!

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The textures of the pebbles and objects discarded by the tides attracted us and we wandered the length of the beach with heads bowed down. I hope you enjoy this series of pictures I took with great difficulty as my eyes were running so much I couldn’t always see clearly.

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We went home with a good collection of small pieces of driftwood so we can get busy making things for our seaside garden.

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Take Two

Recently I published a post about one tree, today I follow up with a post about two logs. Of course they are from Silver Birch trees, my favourite trees. When we have our log supply for the winter delivered the birch logs always look so colourful and full of textures. These two started getting more colourful and as the bark dried and peeled the textures got more interesting.

So I popped them down on the back lawn and took these shots. Please enjoy! You just have to like the curly bits! Look closely and you will find landscapes in miniature brought out by the bright sunlight.

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Posted in landscapes, light quality, log piles, logs | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments