Aiming for an all year round garden – our garden in October

We are now into autumn and the trees are looking very undecided about what to do with their leaves. Some trees are already showing their Autumn hues but some are still displaying their summer greens. The wind as usual blows hard in October and snatches coloured leaves off all too early but does make colourful “carpets” beneath.

Off into the garden with camera in hand in a break in the gloomy light I shot a series of photos to give you an idea of what is going on in our garden in October.

I have decided to single out one plant which has started flowering just the last few days whereas its cousins flowered months ago. It is a Toad Lily – Trycirtis hirta variegata. The flowers are much paler than our other varieties of Trycirtis but they do still have the lovely marking typical of the family. Flowering this late does mean though that the flowers are viewed against foliage that is not at its best, with the gold edged variegation looking very faded.

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The best way for me to show you our October garden is probably via a gallery. So please just click on the first shot and navigate with the arrows. And enjoy!

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Post 500 – Tom Stuart-Smith at Serge Hill 2

As promised we return to Serge Hill for the final part of my Post 500 series, where we will discover the garden Tom Stuart-Smith designed for his sister and also take a look at his own meadow and prairie garden. (apologies for the poor quality of the photos but I was trying out a new camera for the first time)

His sister’s garden is designed to reflect her particular needs and interests, but it is easy to see his favourite plants and planting combinations throughout.

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I could’t resist taking the shot below. It looks as if he gardener was caught out by the arrival of all those visitors, so made a hasty retreat.

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The prairie garden was very popular, which made taking photos pretty difficult. In fact it was so busy when we arrived that we went off to explore the paths cut through the acres and acres of native wildflower meadows

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When we found a quieter moment in the Prairie we returned for a wander. It was a lovely contrast to the native meadows. I shall start with one of the favourite garden plants of both Jude the Undergardener and myself, Dianthus carthusianorum. We have a clump of three at home but here they were planted by the hundred. Incredible delicate looking wiry plant that moves in the slightest breeze.

 

 

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I had the pleasure of a quick talk with Tom Stuart-Smith himself and I proudly left his garden with a signed copy of his book under my arm, a book all about making his Barn Garden.

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Posted in garden design, garden designers, garden photography, gardening, gardens, grasses, hardy perennials, meadows, National Garden Scheme, Tom Stuart-Smith, Yellow Book Gardens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Post 500 – Tom Stuart-Smith at Serge Hill

As promised for the third in my week’s posts celebrating my 500th post we go down to Hertfordshire to explore Tom Stuart-Smith’s garden designs at his own home and the home of his sister. The family home at Serge Hill is surrounded by mature planting. The new gardens  designed by T S-S are within its grounds. When these gardens open they are very popular with thousands of visitors making an appearance. It looks very busy and taking photos is difficult as the gardens are only open for one day each year as part of the National Garden Scheme, so people find it in the famous Yellow Book. The friendly herd of Guernsey calves greeted every visitor. We wandered through the gardens around the house which had been there a long time but the influence of T S-S can be seen.

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In the gardens at Tom’s and his sister’s, both designed to suit their particular needs, we felt we had found the nearest to perfection in meadow planting, prairie planting and courtyard planting. Come with us and see what you think.

Firstly I shall share my photos of the courtyard at The Barn. It has an atmosphere of such calm. Those loungers must provide a wonderful place in which to relax and be content with the world. The rectangular corton steel pools with their sheets of water dyed black for extra reflection mirror so clearly the moving clouds and any overhanging plants. Looking into them it appears as if they are bottomless.

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The planting is so simple but effective. Every plant has its place and complements its partners perfectly. Chartreuse and purple flowers and bracts work together so well against their background of grasses and coloured foliage.

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Reaching the prairie we found fellow garden fellow visitors exploring every pathway that were winding throughout.

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Close by a huge area had been planted as a native wildflower meadow which provided a wonderful contrast to the more vibrant prairie. We shall look in greater detail at the prairie and meadow as well as Tom Stuart-Smith’s sister’s garden in the next post.

 

 

Posted in garden design, garden designers, garden photography, gardening, gardens, hardy perennials, meadows, National Garden Scheme, ornamental grasses, ornamental trees and shrubs, The National Gardening Scheme", Tom Stuart-Smith, Yellow Book Gardens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Post 500 – Part Two – a further visit to the “Oudolf Field”

As promised I am returning to the beautiful county of Somerset where Jude and I spent a day exploring the exciting new “Oudolf Field” and the gallery buildings at the Hauser and Wirth’s Durslade Farm.

We left off as we were looking at the pool and giant clock. This is the first time we have seen any water designed into an Oudolf designed garden and indeed the first one to include a giant clock. The pool afforded clear reflections of the trees surrounding the site and was only planted around the margin closest to the buildings to give the maximum area of reflecting water.

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The tall clock towers over the pool and its white face stands out against the brightness of the blue sky. I would imagine it would look great against black clouds too! It casts a beautiful lollipop shadow across the golden gravel. Its face looks like a big circular disc but it is in reality asymmetric in design, which causes the minute hand to move out into clear air as it moves into the narrow side.

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Although the planting is lower than in his previous gardens Piet Oudolf still uses many of his favourite plants such as Sanguisorbas, Echinaceas, Verbenas and Heleniums.

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We had a break for coffee and to look around the galleries before wandering the gardens again as the sun dropped slowly in the sky and the light gave the meadows a fresh look.

We were enthralled by a gallery where a display of Oudolf’s garden designs helps reveal how this garden designer’s mind works. We loved the designs and working drawings and “idea jottings” of this garden here in Somerset as well as those from the New York High Line and the Wisley Garden.

Moving from gallery to gallery each courtyard space is softened by more of Oudolf’s plantings, featuring trees underplanted with grasses and perennials. The sculptural pieces sit comfortably among the old farm buildings with their richly textured surfaces.

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Enjoy the gallery of photos taken in the sparkling late afternoon light. It is amazing how different plantings can look as the light changes within just a few hours at this time of year.

The next post in my 500 Celebration series will find us over in Hertfordshire where Tom Stuart-Smith lives. We had the privilege of visiting his own garden and the one he designed for his sister.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in architecture, buildings, colours, garden design, garden designers, garden photography, garden ponds, garden pools, garden seating, gardens, gardens open to the public, grasses, hardy perennials, light, light quality, meadows, ornamental grasses, outdoor sculpture, Piet Oudolf, reflections, sculpture, Tom Stuart-Smith, water garden, water in the garden | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Post 500! A look at two garden designers.

To celebrate reaching 500 posts in my Greenbenchramblings adventures I thought I would create a week of posts about my favourite garden designers, Piet Oudolf and Tom Stuart-Smith. I have featured examples of their gardens several times already but these are special gardens. The Piet Oudolf garden here is his latest creation in Somerset and the Tom Stuart-Smith gardens are his own garden and the one he designed for his sister who lives just yards away.

The garden, called the Oudolf Field sits within the grounds of the Hauser and Wirth Gallery in the Somerset village of Bruton. This 1.5 acre garden was only planted this year so we visited in its very early stages. The garden is better described as a perennial meadow than his usual tall prairie. The plants are generally shorter so that more of each border and the garden as a whole can be seen at one go. The meadow is designed to feel soft and loose and the style is reflected in smaller gardens all around the farm buildings. Unusually for his gardens he has included a pool here.

So let’s start on our tour beginning as we leave the restaurant in the old renovated farm buildings. A grassed area with widely spaced trees contains unusual seats in which to relax and view the garden, sit and enjoy a coffee or read a book. These “Eye Benches” are made from black Zimbabwe granite.

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The meadow style borders themselves contain over 26 000 plants and winding paths invite the visitor to view each border from all different angles. Unusually for Oudolf he has designed most of the planting to be low enough to look over it and view most of the garden. Jude the Undergardener is unconvinced by this as it all seemed so low and I have to agree to an extent. I much prefer his taller plantings but time will tell. After all this garden is just a few months old.

Come for a wander and see the “field” through the lens of my camera. Just click on a shot and follow the arrows to navigate.

A giant clock is visible from every part of the garden. It towers over the pool. I shall continue my tour of Oudolf’s new garden and the buildings that it adorns in the next part of this 500 post celebration week.

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Posted in colours, garden design, garden designers, garden furniture, garden photography, garden ponds, garden pools, garden seating, gardening, gardens, gardens open to the public, grasses, hardy perennials, meadows, ornamental grasses, Piet Oudolf, reflections, Tom Stuart-Smith, water in the garden | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Crab Apple Jelly

We have a beautiful and very productive crab apple tree at the bottom of our garden. It provides useful shade in the summer for the chickens but for us it provides a wonderful and very heavy harvest. Being a Malus “Butterball” it has pendular branches each giving us masses of small yellow fruits which are all blushed orange or red. It is a beautiful ornamental tree as well as being productive.

We never need to harvest many branches so the majority of the fruit is left for the local Blackbirds and Mistle Thrushes early in the autumn and the few they leave will be gorged by visiting thrushes, the Redwings and Fieldfares from the colder continent.

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This year we have decided to make Crab Apple Jelly flavoured with cloves to use up some of the fruit.

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We have another much younger Crab Apple, a purely ornamental variety close to the path that meanders between the Bog Garden and the Prairie Garden. It has masses of scented pink and white flowers in early spring followed in late summer by orange/red tiny fruits. It grows among cerise flowered Lychnis coronaria and various ornamental grasses.

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In the communal gardens at our allotment site, Bowbrook Allotment Community, we grow several varieties of Crabs as ornamental trees and to act as reliable long flowering pollinators for our orchard apples. And they work. Since we added these Crab trees the yields from the orchards have noticeably increased.

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Posted in allotments, autumn, community gardening, fruit and veg, garden photography, gardening, gardens, ornamental trees and shrubs, trees | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A garden in September – Trentham

So here we are back for the September visit to the wonderful gardens at Trentham. We arrived in bright sunshine which was a big change to the usual weather on our visits here. Usually we get wet but today looked set fair with blue sky with just a scattering of white clouds. As we walked over the bridge into the gardens we looked down into the River Trent below to see it swollen with floodwater and carrying much dirt in its wake. The water of the Trent flowed brown and the grasses of Piet Oudolf’s River of Grasses refleced this colour.

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Moving into Oudolf’s Prairie there was much more variety in the colours although grasses remained powerful elements. The tall herbaceous perennials were showing deepening colours as autumn approaches. Rich rubies, purples and blues were, in places, lit up by the crisp white of the Seleniums and sunny yellows of Solidago.

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Leaving the subtle but at the same time exciting Prairie we wandered off towards the Italian Garden with its traditional style of planting. We passed through a Hornbeam tunnel where the autumnal light played with shadows. Leaving its coolness our eyes were assaulted by Begonias and brightly leaved bananas.

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We always look forward to our first glimpse of the delights that await us in Tom Stuart-Smith’s Italianate parterres. Looking from the balustrade the view spread out below in the geometric beds promised so much of interest, while a quick glance below showed bursts of red Dahlias and yellow Rudbeckias.

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Once down among the many beds we soon discovered just what flowers were giving us the colourful sights.

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These colours were enriched all the more by the russets and chocolates of the grasses and seed heads of perennials such as Phlomis and Verbascums.

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We reluctantly left the Tom S-S plantings behind us and ambled off through the tall trees of the old parkland towards the display gardens. We glanced at the early autumn colours of Prunus trees between the silver bark of the trunks of Betula. Some Betula trunks were showing their great age and their textures contrasted strongly with their younger smoother neighbours.

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Rhus trees were showing deep orange foliage which matched the petals of a lovely Dahlia.

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Elsewhere another Rhus partnered a red leaved Cotinus. Coloured glass leaves atop silver stems added more colour close by.

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White and purple spires of Actaea caught the light.

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In the Allotment Garden orange globes of pumpkins were drying in the sun and heat of this Indian Summer.

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After a light lunch we made our way towards the Rose Walk to see how things had changed since our visit last month. We passed back through some of the Tom S-S borders where we were drawn for a closer look towards the long thin seed pods of Amsonias.

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Seedheads and dying flower heads of many different perennials and grasses were so enthralling that our walk back through these borders took rather longer than anticipated.

 

 

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A long line of thin rectangular borders designed by Piet Oudolf act as a link between the Tom S-S garden and the Rose Walk. Here colour abounded.

 

 

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In the Rose Walk itself most rose bushes were still in flower and tall flowers such as Cleome and Verbena bonariensis added even more colour.

 

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We enjoyed the views from the Rose Walk back towards Oudolf’s Prairie and River of Grasses. We could also see the shrubs growing alongside it including a spectacular deciduous Euonymous with orange and red fruits.

 

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So this Indian Summer we are enjoying provided us with great light to view the gardens at Trentham but the strange seasons mean that many perennials and grasses were far more autumnal than we could have expected. Next month’s return to Trentham may well show Trentham to be well in the grip of Autumn.

 

 

Posted in autumn, autumn colours, colours, fruit and veg, garden design, garden designers, garden photography, gardening, gardens, gardens open to the public, grasses, hardy perennials, Italian style gardens, light, light quality, meadows, ornamental grasses, ornamental trees and shrubs, photography, Piet Oudolf, shrubs, Staffordshire, Tom Stuart-Smith, trees | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment