On a beautiful sunny September day, we joined the members of the West & Midlands Iris Group visiting the garden of The Old Rectory, Eastnor, Herefordshire.
In 1848 Sir George Gilbert Scott surveyed the Church at Eastnor and made plans to build a new rectory between 1849 and 1850 with a large and asymmetrical house.
Around this, today’s owners have created a garden of 3.5 acres on Herefordshire red clay, much improved by mulching over the 15 years they have been developing it.
We first visited the walled vegetable garden designed in the style of a potager garden with a mix of fruit, flowers and vegetables, some in raised beds. This area was full of colours from annuals and dahlias, a particular favourite.
Nectarines and peaches are fan trained on the back wall of this greenhouse.
Here fruit trees are grown as either step-overs or espaliers, large apples on the Reverend Wilkes tree particularly caught my eye.
Pots of the beautiful species Pelargonium sidoides decorated the steps…
…down to the traditional orchard edged with two serpentine herbaceous borders.
Then on to a second greenhouse, this one dedicated to growing a variety of peppers and tomatoes. Speckled Heart, a stripy heart-shaped tomato and a black Queen of the Night were two of the more unusual ones.
A bed alongside the greenhouse was filled with more dahlias,
From here you had an excellent view of the ‘piece de resistance’ of the garden, the Tulip bed.
This bed was designed and built only three years ago in the shape of a tulip. In its centre are two curved weathered oak benches partly hidden by a mass planting of, I think, Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’.
Two large beds surrounding this are colour themed with white at the far entrance and gradually becoming warmer towards the greenhouse. There is a video link at the end of this post featuring the Tulip Bed.
We next visited the new woodland area and then onto the croquet lawn past rose-covered obelisks. Yew hedges at either end circled a Lutyens-style bench with roses planted behind it and in urns on either side.
Landscaping and different garden ornaments have been used throughout to create interest.
Steps led you up to a terrace packed with planting creating different garden rooms to suit shady or sunny situations.
Ornamental gates lead down to a rose garden and onto a large pond where members were happy to sit and enjoy the setting. Paths cut through the long grass here led you down to the Church.
A truly magnificent garden.
Welcome refreshments were served in the coach house and monies collected will be donated to the Church for repairing the stained glass windows.
Please click on “Watch on YouTube” for the Tulip Shaped bed video:
This year there is a new planting plan for the raised beds bordering the patio. This will be the first year I have not planted tulips here instead there are Wallflowers Persian Carpet, Digitalis Suttons Apricot and Forget-me-nots’. These have all been grown from seed a considerable saving on plants along with not buying tulip bulbs.
I have saved tulip bulbs from last year, these will all be planted in pots, then if they do not perform well they can be moved out of sight.
The tulip bulbs have spent the summer in the greenhouse they are now clean and ready for the planting.
The Foxglove, Digitalis ‘Pam’s Choice’ has been grown for the main border.
One of the gardening jobs that has concentrated my mind this autumn has been preparing the growing pelargonium collection for the winter. I have been following the Pelargonium Society’s Website Here. advice on reducing the size of the plants so that they will fit into the space available. They recommend to reduce the risk of botrytis infecting plants when they are cut back to a node to ensure the growing medium in the pots has dried out.
Having followed this advice it is disappointing to be seeing infected plants even after treatment with yellow sulphur.
The pelargonium society has recently posted on their YouTube Channel that this is one of the worst autumns for this problem due to the extremly mild, wet weather in the UK this autumn. A gardening friend has recommended spraying with a fungicide.
Young plants growing on for next year.
Pictures from the greenhouse this October.
Some other greenhouse Winter residents.
Gardeners are traditionally an optimistic breed so here’s looking forward to a colourful pelargonium 2023.
How do you prepare your pelargoniums for the winter?
During our tour of East Anglia, this garden was high on my Wish list to visit.
When Alan Gray and Graham Robeson first came to the old vicarage there was no garden whatsoever, it was a blank canvas. Every garden was designed entirely by them as were the various buildings, their sole aim has been to try and enhance the setting of their home. Alan occasionally writes for the RHS magazine and has his own YouTube channel. Throughout the garden there are many rare and unusual plants growing. They propagate from these in small numbers so that they may be purchased from the plant sales area. There is a converted barn for a tea room with a wonderful display of vintage garden tools on the walls. The garden lies 1½ miles from the North sea.
The pedestrian entrance court with its free draining gravely soil is planted each spring with a variety of succulents, with Aeonium ‘zwartkop’ and the slaty blue Cotyledon orbiculata taking centre stage.
The garden spans 32 acres, containing many garden rooms to discover and explore. Herbaceous borders, gravel gardens, sub-tropical gardens, a box parterre, sunken rose garden, Mediterranean garden, Walled garden, large woodland garden and a Desert Wash garden.
The Desert Wash.
This area of the garden is designed to resemble parts of Arizona where, it probably only rains, once or twice a year, but when it does rain it floods and great rushes of water channel through the landscape tossing rocks and stones around and leaving behind dry channels and islands where succulent plants flourish.
The real work in making this garden started one metre below the surface where they broke up the sub-soil and incorporated lots of gravel. Then they built layer upon layer of gravel and gravel mixed with soil, the aim being to keep this area very free draining especially during the winter.
Many of the plants grown here are able to tolerate some cold provided they remain dry at the root. Some four hundred tonnes of flint of various sizes have been used in the construction of this area.
They are always experimenting and pushing the boundaries with the planting. Besides the usual drought tolerant plants you will find Puyas, Bromeliads, Agaves and Aloes. Nothing is wrapped for winter protection, the excellent drainage prevents water lying around their roots.
Slide Show The Desert Wash.
Viewed through a porthole cut in the shelter belt is this much photographed borrowed view of Happisburgh lighthouse.
St Mary’s church at the end of the garden.
This is one area of the garden, there is so much more to see not least its magnificent Walled Garden which was built to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
In 1955 when Dr and Mrs Robinson came to Hyde Hall in 1955 there were only six trees on the top of a windswept hill and no garden. They donated the 42-acre garden, Hyde Hall, to the Royal Horticultural Society in 1993. We visited there in August 2012 during our garden tour of Essex and East Anglia.
A dry garden was created in 2001 by Mathew Wilson, curator at the time, it aimed to show visitors how they can work with the environment and use drought-tolerant plants.
This path leads into the dry garden, described as one of the crowning achievements of Hyde Hall.
Work began in the winter of 2000, which ironically was one of their wettest winters. It is home to more than 400 different species of plant.
The garden has been built on a south-facing slope covering 0.4 acres, using Gabbro boulders and subsoil mounded over the rubble.
The topsoil was mixed with grit and sand to offer a free-draining environment for the plants.
On summer days, with the rolling hills in the backdrop, the garden looks rather like a Mediterranean outcrop, and it’s easy to forget that you are in the heart of Essex.
In spring, the garden shines with golden Euphorbia, conifers are included for winter interest and drought tolerance, while in summer it turns purple as Verbena bonariensis attracts hosts of butterflies and ornamental grasses towers high above the garden.
Such as the wonderful Stipa gigantea below. Alliums are planted for spring colour with Agapanthus, which you just see on the left for later in the year. Also on the left is Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’ which provides colour over a long season.
Echinops ‘platinum blue’ and Verbascum olympicum enjoy these conditions.
Also, the beautiful Crinum Powelli is here with Eryngium planum.
From here you could look down onto the gravel or scree garden which had more recently been developed.
Some of the stars up close.
Hyde Hall is well worth a visit if you are in the area, this is only one of the many inspirational gardens within its boundary. Do you have any drought tolerant stars shining in your garden?
With the heat wave currently restricting me to the shade of my office and cooling fan, I thought it provided an ideal opportunity to write about drought-tolerant gardens.
We spent a week in August 2012 visiting gardens in Essex and East Anglia, one of the driest areas of the UK.
The first one we visited was Beth Chatto’s, famous for its gravel garden.
Beth Chatto’s Gravel Garden.
Beth Chatto was born in 1923 to enthusiastic gardening parents. After working as a teacher she married the late Andrew Chatto, his lifelong interest in the origins of plants influenced the development of the gardens and their use of plants to this day. Following Andrew’s retirement, they built their new home on wasteland that had been part of the Chatto fruit farm. The site presented many difficulties for starting a garden including low annual rainfall. It was to Andrew’s plant research that they turned.
Informed by his knowledge Beth selected plants for a series of gardens that could thrive under different conditions. Beth Chatto’s first book, “The Dry Garden”, was published in 1978.
The gardens began in 1960 and from an overgrown wasteland of brambles, parched gravel and boggy ditches it has been transformed, using plants adapted by nature to thrive in different conditions. Thus an inspirational, informal garden has developed.
A light and airy tearoom allows visitors to relax and take in their surroundings over homemade cake.
The world-famous gravel garden inspired by the low local rainfall, is full of drought-resistant plants from the Mediterranean. The site was originally the nursery car park.
It was first subsoiled to break up the pan. The soil is largely gravel and sand, mushroom compost was added to help plants become established.
This picture shows Agapanthus Evening Star & Verbena bonariensis with large-leaved Berginias, in the bed across the path. The Berginias are a favourite for edging borders, providing all-year-round interest with many developing a rich red tone in winter.
Self-seeders such as Fennel and Verbena thrive in these conditions……….
along with Stipa tennuissima and Verbascum.
A few conifers were included as accent plants, Beth wrote in her book, “they, surprisingly, survived due, I think, to mulching in the early days” here also Stipa gigantea and Euphobias.
Perovskia blue spire and Alliums are some of the plants that make up the planting palette of this garden.
The Mount Etna Broom in the centre, has grown to become a 15ft tree. Clean gravel is added to the paths from time to time to help conserve moisture and suppress germinating weeds.
Trees, such as Eucalyptus and shrubs were also chosen for their drought-tolerant qualities.
The Scree Garden.
Planted in 1999 in part of the old mediterranean garden, the Judas tree in the centre of the island was planted over 45 years ago and forms a focal point.
On the day we visited succulents and alpines were on display along with the washing
The accompanying plant nursery stocks over 2000 plants, all displayed by growing conditions. They do provide a mail order service.
If you are in the area I would recommend a visit, there is also a water garden, woodland and reservoir gardens. You can visit the restaurant, plant centre & gravel garden free of charge.
We recently visited a group of gardens in Worcester who were opening for the National Garden Scheme, I don’t think many of the visitors would have expected to find such a wonderful Bonsai collection in Worcester.
From the NGS website,
“The garden has been 14 years in the making. It was designed around a collection of Bonsai trees which needed to be displayed sympathetically in fairly natural surroundings. It is a low maintenance garden with many oriental influences and a studio designed to look like a tea house. There are also two small ponds with fish and wildlife.”
The owners are Malcolm & Diane Styles.
I am sure you will agree with me this is a wonderful garden and bonsai collection.
On June the 4th and 5th six gardens in the village of Hanley Swan opened in aid of the National Garden scheme.
Thank you to all the supporters who baked cakes, helped with serving the teas and selling plants in support of Saint Richards Hospice, especially the garden owners who put a lot of work in to ensure their gardens looked wonderful and not least of all the visitors without who we would not raise any money for the two charities.
Some pictures from our garden just before opening.
We also had a group visit from Evesham U3A on Wednesday.
Despite poor weather on Sunday we raised £1619 to share between the two charities.
I guess, if you asked any gardener how to sow seeds, you would receive a different answer from each one.
I recently gave a zoom presentation to the Worcestershire Careers Association gardening group on seed sowing.
These are my thoughts.
There is a wide range of pots and containers for seed sowing, generally, I prefer to use small pots rather than seed trays because they provide a deeper root run until you get round to pricking out the seedlings.
Large seed trays also encourage the sowing of too much at a time.
I also use root trainers. The large ones are useful for growing sweetpeas, beans and sweet corn, and they save pricking out. You can then plant them directly into the garden. You can buy smaller ones, ideal for starting vegetables such as lettuce or annual flowers.
A free alternative is used toilet rolls centres which fit nicely into the plastic containers grapes are sold in.
The choice of compost can be a controversial area. Legislation regarding the use of peat is driving the move to peat-free compost.
I think you only need one type of compost, multipurpose. I use Melcourt ‘sylva grow’, a peat-free one recommended by the RHS. This year I am experimenting with using Fertile Fibre, a Coir product. This is dehydrated making it light to carry and is easily rehydrated for use.
There is no doubt peat-free compost requires more feed, which may explain why some comparisons show poor results.
I also use fine grade vermiculite for seed sowing, it is light to carry, helps prevent seedlings from damping off and benefits root development. Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral that is heat-treated. Traditionally horticultural sand or grit would have been used and as a gardener with recurring back problems, reducing the weight of materials is an important consideration.
For small seeds, I sieve multipurpose compost, to remove the larger pieces, mixing it 50/50 with vermiculite. When planting small seeds, I water from above before sowing or from below afterwards.
After sowing I lightly cover with vermiculite and label. You can cover it with a polythene bag and place it on a well-lit window sill. I use a heated propagator which negates the need to cover individual pots. You will need to remove the individual cover when the seeds have germinated, keep warm with good light to prevent them from becoming leggy.
Coir Jiffy pellets are useful for propagating seeds and cuttings, they require soaking before use.
Once germinated they can be planted out into pots to grow on, this also saves pricking out.
I use a mixture of compost with around 25% vermiculite for growing on.
I grow larger seeds such as sweet peas, broad or runner beans in the same 50/50 mix without sieving, planting into root trainers or toilet roll centres.
Following my post ‘Peace and Tranquility’ I thought it would be interesting to post some pictures, as slide shows, of Japanese gardens we have visited here in the UK.
From their website:
“The Japanese Garden was almost certainly the result of Alan de Tatton’s visit to the Anglo-Japanese Exhibition at the White City in London in 1910.
Inspired by what he saw there, Alan de Tatton decided to introduce a Japanese garden to Tatton. A team of Japanese workmen arrived to put together what is now rated to be the “finest example of a Japanese Garden in Europe.”
The Shinto Shrine and artefacts contained within the garden are all reputed to have been brought from Japan especially for the construction of the garden.” More Tatton Japanese Garden.
From their website. “The Japanese Garden encompasses Thomas Simpson’s love for the unique elegance and incomparable beauty of Japanese horticulture.
He imported genuine stone and bronze artefacts to enhance the garden. The Tea House is draped with Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda) and plants native to Japan have been used including the spectacular Kurume Hybrid azaleas, Japanese cherries and maples together with hostas, Hakon grass and a Ginkgo. The pool is home to large Koi carp best viewed when crossing the water on the stepping stones. The Japanese garden is still regarded as one of the finest in the country.” Website: Compton Acres Japanese Garden.
Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons.
From their website: “It would be difficult to find a poet who hasn’t opined on the changing seasons, it is equally relevant for gardeners, be they amateur or professional, who wait with eager anticipation for the first signs that the earth is thawing.
Raymond Blanc OBE is no different and along with his garden team, waits patiently for spring to arrive, taking time to remember the different destinations he has visited and how these trips during different times of the year have coloured his visions.
When East and West meet
His visit to Japan in the early nineties was one such occasion, which ignited his imagination and inspired him to create a Japanese Garden in the environs of the 15th century Belmond Le Manoir. Captivated by the Japanese tradition of Hanami, a longstanding practice of welcoming spring (held between March and May), which is also known as the ‘cherry blossom festival’, Blanc wanted to bring part of his Japanese adventure back to the UK.
The Japanese Tea Garden at Belmond Le Manoir entices guests to become more mindful as they explore, crossing the oak bridge to find sanctuary and was influenced by Taoist, Buddhist and Shinto traditions.” More details of the Japanese Garden.
National Botanic Garden of Wales.
From their website: “This Japanese garden is called ‘Sui ou tei’, which refers to the national flowers of Japan and Wales, the cherry blossom and the daffodil.
It combines three different traditional Japanese garden styles: the pond-and-hill garden, the dry garden and the tea garden. Japanese garden styles have developed over a 1400-year history, each style celebrating the changing seasons in different ways.
Such changes illustrate the transience of life, and tiny details, such as leaf buds opening in springtime, play an important role by drawing attention to the passage of time.
In the last 150 years, Japanese gardens have been created all over the world, adapted to local conditions. They are appreciated for their tranquillity and sense of calm when visitors take the time to absorb the scenes presented by the garden.” Website.
Bridges Stone Mill.
Closer to home and on a more modest scale is Bridges Stone Mill, they open for the National Garden Scheme in Worcestershire.
“Once a cherry orchard adjoining the mainly C19 flour mill, this is now a 2½ acre year-round garden laid out with trees, shrubs, mixed beds and borders. The garden is bounded by a stretch of Leigh Brook (an SSSI), from which the mill’s own weir feeds a mill leat and small lake. A rose parterre and a traditional Japanese garden complete the scene.” Bridges Stone Mill NGS link
Then there is our garden with its small Japanese garden, open for the National Garden Scheme with five gardens in the village of Hanley Swan on the 4th and 5th of June. Details of all the gardens here: Hanley Swan NGS Open Gardens.
If you have the opportunity to visit a garden with a Japanese element, please do, I am sure you will find it relaxing and inspiring.
It has been said many times during the pandemic how important gardens and outdoor spaces have become to people from all walks of life. Whether walking in the city parks or exploring the countryside everyone feels a benefit. Those of us with gardens have also found them sanctuaries either to sit in enjoying a beverage of your choice or with your head down planting, weeding or sowing, when you soon forget everything else that has been going on. When gardens have been able to open to the public there has been an increase in visitors, delighted to be able to visit gardens again.
Historically, gardens have always been considered sanctuaries, from the ancient Islamic gardens to the tranquillity of Japanese gardens. Irene and I have, for some time, been attracted to Japanese style gardens, inspired by visits to Japanese gardens with the Japanese Garden Society. Most notable to Tatton Park where we meet Professor Fukuhara who helped with the restoration of their Japanese garden. He took us inside the Japanese garden at Tatton and gave us a tour explaining the restoration of this famous garden.
The professor lectures on Japanese garden design in Japan and designed the gold medal and best in show Japanese garden at Chelsea in 2001, now relocated to the National Botanical Gardens in Wales, which we have visited several times.
He also redesigned and supervised the construction of the rock garden at RHS Wisley for the bicentenary of the RHS.
Those of you who have visited our garden will know we have a small enclosed area designed in the style of a Japanese stroll garden. Many visitors comment on the different atmosphere when they enter and sit in the shelter. With the three essential elements of a Japanese garden, rocks, water and plants, there is at the one entrance a Cherry tree.
Inside there are flowering spring trees, shrubs, bamboo and Acers, for their wonderful leaf colour, with rocks and a dry river bed leading to the Bamboo water spout.
The other gateway is covered with the stunning Japanese white Wisteria, floribunda ‘ Alba .‘
These elements can, I think, be easily incorporated into any garden or even just on a patio to help bring that sense of peace and tranquillity that many have searched for during these times.
Little did I realise when I booked this month’s speaker, for our garden club, on Japanese garden design history how important some of these elements in a garden would become to those of us who are fortunate to own a garden.
Wishing you peace and tranquility were ever you find it.
Broughton Grange featured on the BBC Gardeners World this week, if you have not seen the programme I would recommend watching on catchup for an up to date view of this outstanding garden.
We visited in July 2016 when it was open for the National Garden Scheme. It was on my must see list having seen pictures in magazines and reading about Tom Stuart-Smith design of the walled garden. It did not disappoint, seeing it again on Gardeners World inspired me to post pictures from our visit.
This garden description below is from their NGS entry.
“Broughton, Banbury, Oxfordshire
An impressive 25 acres of gardens and light woodland in an attractive Oxfordshire setting. The centrepiece is a large terraced walled garden created by Tom Stuart-Smith in 2001. Vision has been used to blend the gardens into the countryside. Good early displays of bulbs followed by outstanding herbaceous planting in summer. Formal and informal areas combine to make this a special site including newly laid arboretum with many ongoing projects.”
The Walled Garden.
Arboretum, Topiary, Plant Sales and Teas.
The garden is open on certain days, please visit their website for more information: broughtongrange.com
September is one of my favourite months in the garden, it could be nostalgia because we always had a wonderful show of Michaelmas Daises (Asters/Symphyotrichum) in our cottage garden at home. Many other plants also provide interest at this time of year, the annuals such as dahlias, late flowering perennials, trees and shrubs with changing leaf colour.
Some of the others.
Please turn on your sound, watch on YouTube and select full screen.
We visited Ravelin on Sunday, one of their National Garden Scheme open days. It is situated in the next village to us, Hanley castle. The description is from their NGS page.
“A ½ acre mature yet ever changing garden with a wide range of unusual plants full of colour and texture. Of interest to plant lovers and flower arrangers alike with views overlooking the fields and the Malvern hills.
Thought to be built on medieval clay works in the royal hunting forest. Small pottery pieces can be seen interspersed with sedum planting.
Designed to enable you to move through areas ranging from perennial and herbaceous planting, gravel, woodland and pond. Seating provides different views and experiences and the opportunity to appreciate the unusual plants collected by the owner.
Seasonal interest provided by a wide variety of hellebores, hardy geraniums, aconitums, heucharas, Michaelmas daisies, grasses and dahlias and a fifty-year-old silver pear tree complemented by self-seeding plants adding colour, vitality and encouraging wildlife.”
Below is a short video showing some of the garden during our visit. Please select Watch on YouTube then full screen on the video.
Along with many garden owners, we originally decided not to open our garden this year due to the pandemic. However, with the improving situation, we have now held popup openings in June and September supporting the charity National garden Scheme. ngs.org.uk
During these days we have also sold plants for St Richards Hospice and at the village of Pirton church fair. These events have raised just over £1000.
We have to say a big thank you to all our visitors who purchased tickets, refreshments and plants. To the volunteers who manned the stalls and the staff at the National Garden Scheme for their support. The pictures are from the garden just before the September opening.
We are going forward with more confidence with five other gardens in the village joining us next year on the 4th and 5th June for the National Garden Scheme.
The plants in the new planter I built in April have settled in well and are starting to grow.
As this is on the North side of the house I selected shade loving plants. These are plants I already had in pots except for a new Trachelospermum jasminoides which I hope will eventually provide an evergreen scented screen.
The rear of the house is not the most attractive however the plants make an attractive diversion.
‘Maggs’ the family cat approves of her new seat in the dry!
A tour of the greenhouses in May, the cold winds and frosty nights dictate that tender plants have to remain inside. This time of year is always over crowded greenhouse time!
The tomato, Amateur, new to me this year, Amelia from https://afrenchgarden.wordpress.com mentioned it as a favourite of her fathers. I was attracted to it because he grew it as a bush tomato.
On the side shelf are trailing pelargoniums growing on for the hanging baskets. Pelargoniums are one of my favourite summer plants.
Pelargonium cuttings and three purchased P. Ardens on the heated propagation bench.
Alongside are Courgettes, Genovese Basil in pots. In the root trainers are Coleus, ‘Festive Dance’ seedlings. Thunbergia plata, ‘Susie Series’ White and at the back Hordeum Jubatum an ornamental barley that I first saw growing in Aberglassney garden
On the top shelf are climbing French and Runner Beans, Sweet Corn ‘Swift’ and Dwarf French Bean ‘Purple Teepee’.
Spinach and Rocket seedlings growing on ready to plant in the raised beds later on.
These are Dahlia Merckii seedlings pricked out into root trainers, a seed swap from Fiona Wormald at https://thegardenimpressionists.com two years ago. I did not manage to sow them until this spring, the germination has been fantastic.
The Dahlia tubers are proving to be a little slow to show this year, one of the Striped Vulcan, new this year, has started.
Rainbow Chard in root trainers along with Fennel. This is the first time I have grown bulb fennel.
These young Alstroemeria plants are from seeds collected by my brother last autumn from the ones in his garden.
In the raised beds are crimson flowering Broad Beans.
With Spinach, Sweet-peas on the obelisk and newly planted lettuce.
I have begun an experiment with tulips this year, following an article I read by Fergus Garrett from Great Dixter regarding which tulips they found to be perennial.
The most reliable ones being the Darwin Hybrids, I planted three varieties in November, two in pots and one in the borders. The real test will be next year if they flower as well. One indication mentioned in the article was whether the bulbs had divided into several small ones or remained as one big bulb, these being the ones worth saving.
I planted Tulip ‘Apeldoorn’ in pots placed in several areas around the garden. Please Click on gallery pictures to enlarge.
These remind me of the traditional cottage garden tulips similar to the ones I brought home from my Great Aunt’s garden.
Tulip Hakuun aka ‘White Cloud’ in large white pots in the White and Green garden.
Tulip ‘Daydream’ was planted in bulb saucers in the borders along with Forget- Me-Nots and Wall Flowers.
Tulip ‘Abu Hassan’ has already proved to be perennial here, these tulip bulbs were purchased three years ago.
Tulip ‘Ballede’ was planted in the borders ten years ago and while its numbers have reduced over time, I think for such a beautiful tulip, it will be worth topping up next autumn.
Providing some spring cheer in the welcome rain is Clematis ‘ Pamela Jackman ‘ with pots of Azaleas at her feet.
Along with Apples ‘Rosett’ and ‘Blenheim Orange’…..
….is the Crab Apple ‘Golden Hornet’.
Have you found any tulip varieties to be perennial in your garden?
This winter in Our Garden@19 has been busy with ‘Estate Maintenance’. I previously posted about replacing the trellis and fence in the white and green garden, then as now my brother Derek has been my right hand man.
Replacing the entrance to the propagation area was the simplest of our recent efforts. We gave it an oriental look.
Continuing with the oriental theme, our neighbour’s fence at the back of the oriental garden started to fall over with the weight of the ivy and snow. I decided to cut back the ivy and erect a new fence on my side.
Then painted it black to tie in with the rest of this area.
A moon window was added to look into the room.
Next on the list was rebuilding the raised beds.
The old obelisks I built when we came here were dismantled and rebuilt, hopefully with more style, to a design by Geoff Hamilton.
Broad Bean Scarlet Flower and Sweet Peas started in pots now planted out.
These early spring bulbs and flowers have been cheering me up on sunny days. Please click on gallery pictures to enlarge.
Back to the oriental garden.
In the rest of the garden…
The pollinators have also been taking advantage of the sunshine.
Having read some impressive reviews about the garden at Aston Pottery, Aston, Oxfordshire, we visited in August 2016.
On this occasion, they were open in aid of the National Gardens Scheme charity.
Created by the owners since 2009 and set around Aston Pottery’s Gift Shop and Cafe, borders flower from June until November.
In the spring 5000 tulips are planted in pots around the shop and cafe, these are then followed by lilies and agapanthus. They created a wonderful pot display when we visited.
60 hornbeams flank the 72-metre Hornbeam Walk, opened in 2012 by the local MP David Cameron, planted as a year-round garden with a summerhouse at the end, and a mix of perennials and annuals which are enjoyed by pollinators.
You then arrive at the 80-metre Hot Bank with kniphofia, alstroemeria, cannas, dahlias and salvias.
There are stunning Double Dahlia Borders 5m deep with over 600 dahlias and grasses edging the back.
New in 2015 was an 80m x 7m deep Annual Border full of over 5000 annuals grown from plug plants.
A traditional Perennial Border with over 50 different perennials offers a wonderful view from the country cafe.
The garden has featured in the Telegraph, Country Living, RHS The Garden and BBC Gardeners’ World. They have been producing pottery for over thirty years suppling Liberty’s of London.
When garden visiting begins again, this is a garden I would recommend, it is a stunning riot of colour. They are planning to open for the National Garden Scheme this year on the 21st and 22nd of August and are normally open seven days a week except over the Christmas period. The pottery shop and cafe make it ‘A Grand Day Out’.
I have created the video below from photographs I took during our visit, to remind us all of the joy of Garden Visiting!
Leonie is a knowledgeable and enthusiastic gardener she is the minutes secretary to the Black Pear Gardening Club. I have invited her as guest publisher for this seasonally appropriate article she wrote for the club newsletter.
One of my favourite plants at this time of year is IRIS UNGUICULARIS (I.stylosa) Algerian Iris.
This lovely flower is native to Algeria, Tunisia, Turkey , Greece and Syria where it grows in light scrub,open pine woods and rocky places.
It flowers from late autumn to early spring when so few plants are in flower. The flowers are beautifully scented, in shades of lavender to deep violet with a yellow throat.
This winter flowering Iris is easy to grow in well drained soil in full sun. Plant near a wall to help maintain the soils heat. I grow it in a raised bed that’s in full sunlight for most of the day, but that said I also grow it in a woodland area in partial sunlight and it is still happy but doesn’t flower quite so well. It is also useful to grow at the base of clematis as they like their heads in the sun and their roots in shade and it helps to hide the bare base of the clematis and keep its roots cool.
Plant it so that the rhizomes are just below the surface of the soil and 10cm (4in) apart.
It produces an evergreen mound of narrow, arching grass like foliage. This foliage does become brown and bit untidy but can easily be trimmed back to keep it looking good.
A top dressing of bone meal or potash in either autumn or spring is beneficial but look out for snails hiding among the leaves.
It dislikes being moved, but if you have to disturb it do it in spring after flowering. It may sulk for a while before it starts to flower again.
This is a long lived plant. I grow the species variety from divisions taken off my mother’s plant that has been growing in her garden for probably fifty years.
Two other very nice named varieties are ‘Mary Barnard’ which has a lovely velvety blue-purple flower, a much more intense colour than the species.
Also, ‘Walter Butt’ a ghostly pale grey-blue , but with a heavenly scent.
Hardiness: Fully hardy
Did you Know : Iris was a Greek goddess, the personification of the rainbow, which she used as her pathway though the sky.
This December has so far been very mild here in Our Garden@19 with only one frost.
The cannas and dahlias are all lifted…..
….safely stored in the garden shed with fleece covering for the cold nights.
The tender plants are divided between the two greenhouses…
Two small areas have been planted with Tulips also Foxgloves, Wallflowers and Forget-me-nots, along with several pots in the hope that we will be able to join the village church open gardens in early May.
One of the many ‘Estate’ maintenance jobs for this winter was to replace the trellis fence between the White and Green garden and the Blue Borders…
It edges the path where the badgers enter the garden, I was concerned, due to its poor condition, they would push through into this area of the garden instead of following their usual path via the ground bird feeder.
With help from my brother, we managed to replace it in one day with Rebar steel mesh normally used in reinforced concrete, without doing too much damage to the climbing Iceberg rose.
In The Oriental Garden the Magnolia ‘Stella’ fury buds are forming.
One of my aims within the garden is to try and have something in flower or of interest in the garden throughout the year, this month it is the Hamamelis Moll Pallida (Witch Hazel).
Below is the last garden tour video for 2020, here’s hoping for a better 2021. Please turn your sound on select full screen, play and enjoy.
A video of the changing autumn colours in Our Garden@19 and some borrowed landscape. I filmed this over a two week period to record the changing colours. Please watch on YouTube
What is providing you with Autumn colour?
With the requirement in most countries to wear a face mask due to the Covid19 pandemic smiling at people is difficult. I have read that an eyebrow smile works, this Spike Millagan poem brought a smile to my eyebrows.
Why you should allow some ivy to grow in your garden.
I do grow some cultivated variegated forms, ivy does not produce any flowers until their adult growth stage when the leaf shape changes, usually at around 10years. They can be kept pruned to their juvenile stage and leaf shape when they will at least provide nesting sites for birds.
Historically August has been viewed as a low period for the garden, due in part, I think, to owners of large estates traditionally moving to Scotland for the grouse season, today it is the main holiday season for everyone with school children. (Except for this year). High temperatures such as the ones we experienced early in the month this year can spell the end of some plants, such as my Sweetpeas.
It does not have to be so. There are a wide choice of plants to fill the borders in August, Phlox, Japanese anemone, roses, if you have deadheaded, dahlias, late sown annuals, pot plants such as pelargoniums, asters are just beginning to flower complimenting ornamental grasses for the late summer look.
The video is of Our Garden@19 filmed towards the end of the month and following the heavy rain and winds. Please select full screen and turn on your sound.
What has survived the August weather in your garden?
The Covid-19 restrictions have inevitably prevented any meetings of our club, The Black Pear Gardening Club..blackpeargc.org.uk Our family has been using Skype for keeping in touch so I decided to try and hold a trial meeting for the club with the opportunity for members to say hello, I then presented pictures from our garden with the aim to include pictures from members gardens at the next meeting. While technology can be challenging we did manage to hold the meeting.
July has been a busy month here in Our Garden@19 with the open garden visits cancelled I had been left with a large stock of plants that I had hoped to sell. We decided, with the village of Pirton, (Worcestershire), where my brother Derek lives, to hold a plant sale in memory of his wife and our late sister in law, in aid of St Richards Hospice who cared for Diana. When the plants had been made presentable for sale, a large transit type van arrived to transport all the plants the day before, ready for setting up the sale the next morning.
The sale was well supported by the village, both helping and purchasing plants along with several members of the garden club.
The video below is the one I presented at the virtual meeting, ‘Our Garden@19 in July.’ Please turn your sound up, click to full-size screen, play and enjoy.
The tomatoes are a bush type? ‘Maskotka’ which crop well despite their vigorous growth.
This weekend six gardens in the village of Hanley Swan should have been opening in aid of the NGS nursing charities.
Due to the Covid-19, this has been cancelled, so together with the other garden openers, we have created a video tour of the gardens.
Please make yourself a cup of tea or any beverage of your choice. Imagine you are in the gardens, sit back, turn on the sound, click on play, select full screen and enjoy.
Orchards have long been a feature of the Worcestershire Countryside, apples for cider, eating and cooking and similar with pears and plums. The Vale of Evesham has a popular fruit blossom trail and because we are unable to visit it this year, I have created this blog post about the development of apple varieties in Worcestershire and a fruit blossom video trail of the fruit trees in Our Garden@19.
Following the Second World War government policy encouraged the grubbing up of orchards to grow more wheat, resulting in many old fruit varieties and orchards lost.
Today there is an increasing interest in restoring orchards with old local varieties of fruit, especially in village or community orchards. Hanley Swan and Welland both have a community orchard.
Worcestershire was responsible for the development of many varieties of apples.
This is the most well known of the county’s varieties and the only one still grown on any sort of commercial basis. It is believed to have originated from the pip of a Devonshire Quarrenden grown by a Mr Hale of Swan Pool, Worcester and was introduced as a commercial variety by Messers Smith of Worcester in 1874.
King Charles Pearmain
A dessert apple said to have been raised by Charles Taylor, a blacksmith of the village of Rushock in Worcestershire in 1821, is claimed by Hogg in 1876 to have been introduced commercially by nurseryman John Smith of Worcester. It is also known as Rushock Pearmain.
A late dessert apple whose name suggests an origin at Hindlip just north of Worcester, yet it was a Mr Watkins of Hereford who first submitted it to the RHS fruit committee in 1896.
(Hindlip Hall is now the Head Quarters of West Mercia Police).
This variety, as its name indicates, originates from the district of Newland just outside Malvern. According to the ‘Herefordshire Pomona’, the variety arose around 1800, supposedly from a pip that grew from a discarded pile of pomace (the pulp leftover from a cider press) at Newland Court.
This apple takes its name from Mr William Crump who was the one time head gardener at Madresfield Court near Malvern. He is credited with raising the variety and personally exhibited it in 1908 when it received an RHS Award of Merit. It is believed to be a cross between ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin’ and a ‘Worcester Pearmain’.
Another of the older culinary apples that were no doubt displaced by the ‘Bramley’. It dates from 1908 when it was introduced by Rowe’s nursery of Worcester. Having been first recorded in 1902 it is thought to be a ‘Blenheim Orange’ X ‘Golden Noble’ and won a Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Award of Merit in 1903.
A quite different and distinctive russet, claimed by Herefordshire but associated with Pitmaston in Worcester. Some might be attracted to this particular apple by its reputation as being everything the supermarkets hate, being small, yellow and spotty yet with a fantastic taste!
It makes for a good garden tree with its moderately vigorous and upright growth pattern and the small fruit is ideal for children. The flesh is crisp, beneath a thick yellow skin with a russet of dots. Flavour is intense, being of a sweet, sharp and slightly nutty character and as the name suggests, with the slightest hint of pineapple.
As a tree, it is notably scab resistant although very prone to biennial cropping, with huge crops thrown one year and virtually nothing the next. The variety is neglected because of the small size of the apples. They are ripe from mid-September onwards and if stored well will keep until December.
The variety is thought to have arisen from the pip of a ‘Golden Pippin’ and although recorded in Hereford in 1785 it was introduced by Williams of the Pitmaston district of Worcester, hence its inclusion in this county list.
Pitmaston Russet Nonpareil.
This dessert fruit claims (by name) to be the ‘Pitmaston Russet’ beyond compare. It was raised at Pitmaston near Worcester by nurseryman John Williams.
The variety first fruited in 1814 before being formally introduced in 1818.
The skin is a bright green with varying levels of russet over it. The fruits have firm flesh with a rich, aromatic flavour. Will keep up to Christmas and beyond.
You cannot write an article about Worcestershire fruit without mentioning:
The Worcester Black Pear
History of the Black Pear The iconic ‘Worcester Black Pear’ appears today in places such as the City coat of arms, the County Council crest and the cricket and rugby club badges, whilst an image of the pear blossom was borne as a badge by the Worcestershire Yeomanry Cavalry until 1956. The earliest reference to any pear associated with a crest is in relation to the Worcestershire Bowmen, depicting a pear tree laden with fruit on their banners at the battle of Agincourt in 1415. Drayton’s poem of Agincourt mentions the fruit, where it is referred to as the badge of Worcester: “Wor’ster a pear tree laden with its fruit”.
Tradition has it that during the visit of Queen Elizabeth I to Worcester in 1575 she saw a pear tree laden with black pears, which had been moved from the gardens at White Ladies and re-planted in her honour by the gate through which the queen was to enter the city. Noticing the tree Elizabeth is said to have directed the city to add three pears to its coat of arms.
The modern grafted Apple tree is well suited to any size garden. We have six in our Garden@19, Malus ‘Blenheim Orange’, ‘Grenadier’, ‘Hereford Russett’, ‘Kidd’s Orange Red’, ‘Rosette’ and of course Worcester Pearmain’. We also have the Cherry ‘Sunburst’, the Pear ‘Invincible’, a Plum, ‘Opal’, the ‘Cambridge Greengage’ and the Crab Apple ‘Golden Hornet’.
To view the fruit trees in blossom in Our Garden@19. Please turn up the sound select full screen, click play and enjoy.
Every year since 2011 our village church has held open gardens over this bank holiday weekend, we have taken part every year bar one. This year, along with all open gardens it has had to be cancelled. With the public unable to come to the garden, this weekend, I have produced a tulip video tour from Our Garden@19.
Please turn the sound up, select full screen on the video, click play and enjoy the tulip tour.
In August 2019 Irene and I were invited to a family event near Lincoln, this provided the perfect opportunity to visit a garden that has long been on my wish list ever since reading about their technique for growing Bearded Iris. Sadly when we visited the iris were over, however, as with all good gardens, there was much else to admire. We have many bearded Iris in the garden, several inherited from my Mother and Great Aunts’ gardens. Bearded iris have beautiful delicate, often fleeting flowers, due to our weather, which can make them even more precious.
Bearded Iris has fallen out of favour due largely to the traditional way of caring for them, with the need to lift and thin them, in the autumn, every three to four years. The “Doddington system” is a trouble-free way to divide them, requiring minimum attention. Some of their older iris have been in the same beds for over 30 years.
Their system is based on the fact that bearded iris set their flower initials in August and require the rhizomes to be warmed by the summer sun.
The iris are split every year after flowering in June, just as the new leaves start to grow. The iris are not lifted but split with a spade, leaving the healthy young rhizome with shoots, whilst removing the old rhizome. the aim is to leave 9-12″ between plants. Then you remove the early summer leaves and flower stems leaving the new late summer leaves. They topdress the bed with bone meal, I use rose fertiliser because foxes are attracted to bone meal. Large rhizomes can be divide with the spade with one part lifted to transplant, either to fill a gap, expand the bed or pot up to sell on open garden days.
I have been using this system since 2014, I was initially attracted because it entailed much less bending, having had a back problem for some years.
Bearded iris in Our Garden@19
Another interesting fact with Doddington is they contain the Bryan Dodsworth iris collection. He was the most celebrated C20 British breeder of Tall Bearded Iris and was awarded the Dykes Medal for new varieties 12 times.
“For many, the Gardens at Doddington are just as spectacular as the Hall itself. Remaining faithful to the original Elizabethan layout, mellow walls provide the framework for the formal East Front and West Gardens. Beyond the West Gardens begin the lovingly restored Wild Gardens. Over the generations, most recently by Antony and Victoria Jarvis and Claire and James Birch, the gardens at Doddington have been restored, cared for, nurtured and developed to their fullest potential.
THE EAST FRONT
The point at which the dramatic nature of the architecture of the Hall becomes apparent. A regular pattern of box edging and topiary follows the outer original Elizabethan walls, leaving the central view of the Hall from the Gate House uninterrupted. Standing guard in the forecourt are four topiary unicorns, representing the Jarvis family crest.
THE WEST GARDEN
Reorganised in 1900 with the help of experts from Kew, the West Garden is a riot of colour from April through to September. Wide borders filled with botanical surprises such as the naturalised Crown Imperials, elegant Edwardian Daffodils and a Handkerchief Tree frame a tapestry of box-edged parterres bursting with glorious Bearded Irises in late May/early June.
THE WILD GARDEN
A spectacular pageant of spring bulbs begins in early February with swathes of snowdrops and Crocus tommasinianus, continuing through March and early April with drifts of Lent Lilies and our unique collection of heritage daffodils, winter aconites and snake head fritillaries until May when our famous Irises steal the show in the West Garden. There are also winter-flowering and scented shrubs, Rhododendron, and an underlying structure is given by topiary and some wonderful trees – the ancient, contorted Sweet Chestnuts that overlook the croquet lawn are still productive.
Meandering paths lead you to our Temple of the Winds built by Antony Jarvis in memory of his parents, a turf maze that he made in the 1980s, and if you look hard you may find the ‘dinosaur’s egg’ (a large boulder that he put in the branches of a field maple tree to surprise the grandchildren).
A nature trail starting from just beyond the Temple at the end of the Garden follows a circular route back to the ‘ha ha’ at the end of the Yew avenue and provides a pleasant and interesting walk of about a mile. The route passes through woodlands, open parkland and a wetland meadow from where the clay was dug to make the bricks to build Doddington.
THE KITCHEN GARDEN
Thanks to a grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the formerly neglected two-acre Walled Kitchen Garden was restored to its former glory in 2007. Just a stone’s throw from the Hall it now provides an abundance of fruit, vegetables, salads and herbs which take centre stage on the Café and Restaurant menus and are regularly for sale in our Farm Shop.
By implementing organic techniques including crop rotation, minimum tillage, biological controls, the use of green manures as well as no-dig beds, we are able to naturally maximise productivity and minimise pests so we have no need for chemical fertilisers, weed killers or pesticides.”