Drought Tolerant Gardens 3

The Old Vicarage East Ruston.

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.

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.

Drought Tolerant Gardens 2

RHS Hyde Hall.

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?

Drought Tolerant Gardens.

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.

Bonsai in Worcester.

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.

Open Gardens and Flower Festival.

This bank holiday we joined in with 16 others in the village for the Open Gardens and Flower Festival.

Some of the tulips had gone over however the Camassia leichtlinii ‘Blue Heaven’ were just beginning to open.

Their true beauty can be really appreciated when photographed up close.

I created a short video of the garden during a quiet moment between visitors.

Please turn on your sound, select Watch on YouTube then select full screen.

Japanese Gardens.

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.

Tatton Park.

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.

Compton Acres.

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.

Botanic Garden of Wales

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.

Japanese Garden
@ourgarden19

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.

Peace and Tranquility in the Garden.

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 Shinto Shrine at Tatton Park.

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.

National Botanic Garden of Wales.

He also redesigned and supervised the construction of the rock garden at RHS Wisley for the bicentenary of the RHS.

The Rock Garden at RHS Wisley.


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.

A window into our Japanese Garden.

Wishing you peace and tranquility were ever you find it.

2022 Calendar.

I have chosen these pictures taken in Our Garden@19 during 2021 to create a calendar for this year.

It is difficult to select a favourite photograph from each month of the year.

However these are my choices.

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
Cover Picture

I have chosen my favourite photograph from last year as a calendar cover picture.

Do you have a favourite picture from 2021?

Happy 2022.

Christmas Tree Festival.

I have written about the village of Pirton in Worcestershire before, every two years they hold a Christmas Tree Festival to help raise money for the church maintenance. The village of Pirton was originally part of the Croome Estate and is located one mile north of  Croome Park (now owned by the National Trust).

This year there were 26 Christmas trees individually decorated by local families. I have created a video of the festival set to seasonal music. Please select full screen on YouTube and enjoy.

Happy New Year.

Trees for the small garden.

With encouragement from the Government and countryside organisations such as the RHS and NT there is an increasing interest in planting trees and the benefits to the environment of doing so. While most of these reported on are on a large scale, if chosen correctly there are some wonderful ornamental and fruitful trees for even the smallest garden. 

Our garden is approximately 125ft by 45 and within it we have 12 ornamental and 12 fruit trees.

One favourite, Acers can be grown in a pot for many years. They will grow in any reasonable soil although they do prefer soil on the acid side which can be achieved by mixing some ericaceous compost in the pot or planting hole. You can purchase simple soil test kits to find out if you have acid or alkaline soil.

Acer palmatum ‘Senkaki’’

We have several Acers in our garden, Acer griseum is a special one. It looks wonderful with the winter sun shining through its peeling cinnamon-like bark.

In the oriental garden, a favourite one is Acer Negundo Flamingo, its variegated leaves consisting of green centres splashed at the edges with salmon pink, which later turn cream. The trunk of this tree is now four foot tall, the branches above this are pollarded in January to help keep it compact along with preventing it from reverting to all green leaves.

 Also in the Oriental garden is the Ginkgo biloba it’s autumn foliage turning a deep saffron yellow. It is a member of a very old genus, with some fossilised leaves found dating back 200 million years. They can grow up to 100 ft tall, I purchased a young 4 ft one which I prune in January to keep it as a column shape.

The Sorbus family is worth considering, Sorbus Eastern Promise is a lovely small tree, perfect for the small garden, its dark green leaves turn deep purple and orange before falling onto our garden during the autumn.

Sorbus Olympic Flame is one to seek out, it is a small, highly colourful Japanese Rowan tree with a columnar habit distinctive for its large foliage that starts coppery in the spring before turning green in summer and fiery red come autumn.

You cannot mention autumn colour without considering the Liquidambar we have Liquidambar slyraciflua ‘Stella’.

One in our neighbour’s garden is particularly stunning in the autumn, always turning colour before ours. This will eventually become a large tree, fortunately it is slow-growing.

Spring colour can be provided by the magnolia family, ‘Lennei’ with its pink-white flowers can grow to 20ft without pruning. A more compact variety is Magnolia stellata.

There is a wide selection of ornamental Cherry trees for the garden. This unknown one in our garden is loved by the honey bees.

Although normally associated with spring blossom, there is Prunus Autumnalis, an Autumn-Winter flowering cherry with white blossom. It is a small tree, suitable for most small gardens. Choose a variety with a single rather than a double flower for the pollinators.

I call Prunus serrula our Champion Tree, it is grown for its wonderful mahogany bark although its delicate flowers are loved by honey bees.

Decorated as a mug tree for our open gardens.

The Silver Birch Betula jacquemontii is considered the best for white bark. With its upright habit it can be grown as a single or multi-stemmed feature. It can reach 4metres within ten years when some carful pruning will be required if you need to control its eventual height and shape. 

I think the first choice of tree for any small garden should be fruit trees. The modern grafted Apple tree is well suited to any size garden. We have in our garden 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’, Plums ‘Opal’, Victoria the ‘Cambridge Greengage’ and the Crab Apple ‘Golden Hornet’ trained as a globe.

The smallest of the trained fruit tree are the step-over apple trees, 18 inches to 2ft tall with a level side branch trained each side, you can literally step over them. They are very productive, often found in French Potagers and are excellent for edging a vegetable border or herb garden. Apples, pears and cherries can be decoratively trained into fan shapes, espaliers and cordons. Plums can be trained as a fan. Ensure it is grown on a ‘Pixy’ rootstock or it will be too vigorous. Plums should not be pruned during winter because silver-leaf and canker can enter through the cuts. Young trees can be trained in the spring with more established ones in the summer.

Fan trained Cherry, Prunus ‘Sunburst’

You can purchase any of these already trained, although expensive you are buying time. Alternatively, you can buy much cheaper bare-root two-year-old whips during the winter.

 While many people find pruning daunting it is very rewarding to see a trained fruit tree in blossom knowing there is fruit to follow. I would recommend obtaining a copy of the RHS book Pruning and Training it covers everything from trees to shrubs, climbers, roses, soft fruit and tree fruits. 

When visiting gardens and nurseries look out for some of those mentioned above and talk to garden owners. It is worth taking your time before buying a tree as it is a worthwhile, long term investment but can be an expensive mistake to rectify.

Malus Rosette in the raised bed with Malus Blenheim Orange trained as an espalier on the Oriental Garden fence.

The wildlife enjoy the trees all year as a safe landing area before visiting the bird feeders or as a source of food. You see them feeding on the insects hiding in the trees during the spring and summer or the fruits during winter.

A New Visitor.

This is the first time a Nuthatch has visited the garden bird feeders, fortunately it stayed feeding long enough for me to grab my camera. The pictures were taken through the dining room window with the flash turned off.

On the entrance to the Japanese Garden.
With a Goldfinch.

The UK Nuthatch is a woodland bird, always associated with trees or tall bushes. It has the unique habit in the UK of plastering mud around the entrance to its nest hole.

Have you seen any new visitors?

Autumn Up Close.

Trees and Leaves.

Acer griseum
Betula utilis Jacquemontii (syn Dorrenbos)

Seed Heads.

Flowers.

Autumn pollen providers.

Feeding on Tagetes cinnabar

We have had a colourful, mild autumn, the garden has been a delight.

Photographs taken with the Canon close up lens 500D 72mm attached to the 18-200mm lens.

Broughton Grange.

NGS Visit.

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 Greenhouses.

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

Our Garden@19 in September.

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.

The Asters.

Symphyotrichum n.a ’ Harringtons Pink’ with Bee.
Symphyotrichum ‘Little Carlow, Solidago ‘Fireworks’ & Calamagrostis Brachytricha
Symphyotrichum na ‘ Barrs Violet ‘ 

Some of the others.

Sedum Herbstfreud 
Canna.
Vitis ‘ Spetchley red ‘ over the arch.
Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ and honey bee.
Verbena Bonariensis and friend.
Miscanthus sinensis 
Calamagrostis x a. ‘ Karl Foerster’ . These white Asters flower in October.
Cyclamen hederifolium.
Malus Blenheim Orange

The Movie.

Please turn on your sound, watch on YouTube and select full screen.

Do you have a favourite September plant?

Double value.

Three plants in the garden offering attractive foliage as well as flowers.

Galtonia candicans has white bell flowers with lance like blue green striped leaves.

The Pholx are just starting to flower here, this is Phlox paniculate ‘Harlequin’, variegated leaves with a touch of pink.

This is the first time Colocasia ‘Black Dragon’ has flowered in the four or five years we have had it. We have always being pleased with just its stunning foliage.

Do you have any double value plants in your garden?

Spetchley Park Gardens in May.

With the tentative easing of lock down restrictions our first garden visits have been to Spetchley Park Gardens with 30 acres to roam there is space for everyone.

Spetchley Park, Worcester has been privately owned for over 400 years, with a good garden history due to its connection with Miss Willmott. It also has tea rooms, a heritage centre and plant sales. http://www.spetchleygardens.co.uk

This gallery of pictures was taken during our visit in early May.

Where is your favourite garden to visit?

Tulips and Blossom.

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?

Garden visiting…..remember that?

Aston Pottery Garden.

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.

The Garden.

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! 

Please watch on YouTube then select full screen.

Happy New Year.

Winter visited Our Garden@19 towards the end of 2020.

Flowering in the house and keeping warm is the Christmas Cactus.

Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera)

From the bathroom window we can see the snow-capped Malvern Hills.

Snow boot painted by the Grandchildren as a Christmas present.

A snowy video tour of the garden wishing you a Happy New Year please turn your sound on and select full screen.

Thaw.

Over the land freckled with snow half-thawed

The speculating rooks at their nests cawed

And saw from elm-tops, delicate as flower of grass,

What we below could not see, Winter pass.

EDWARD THOMAS (1878-1917)

Thank you for visiting Brimfields.com during 2020, hopefully, some of you may be able to visit the garden in person later this year if we are able to open for the village church funds in May.

Ivy and the Bees.

Why you should allow some ivy to grow in your garden.

Wild Ivy in flower.

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.

Ground cover under the Bug Hotel.
Hedra helix Gold Child on a shady fence.

Do you grow ivy in your garden?

August Video Garden Tour.

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 Six NGS Gardens of Hanley Swan.

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.

The May Garden Video Tour.

“April Showers Bring May Flowers”.

While we did not have many April showers the May flowers have, like us, enjoyed the sunshine.

Please join me on a video tour of Our Garden@19 to see our May flowers. Turn up the volume, click on the link below and select full screen, play and enjoy.

Worcestershire Apples and a Fruit Blossom Video Trail.

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.

I have listed some of them below with information from the Worcestershire Orchards (Please visit their very interesting website). http://www.worcestershireorchards.co.uk

Worcestershire Orchards.

Worcester Pearmain

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.

Lord Hindlip

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).

Newland Sack

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.

William Crump

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’.

Edward VII

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.

Pitmaston Pineapple.

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.

 

 

Tulip Video Tour.

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.

 

Doddington Hall Garden Visit and Growing Bearded Iris.

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.

This garden description is from their website:Doddington Hall.com

“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.”

A photo garden tour.

East Front

West Garden

Wild Garden

Kitchen Garden

Bryan Dodsworth

A great name for an Iris!

If you have an opportunity I would recommend a visit to Doddington Hall, besides the hall and gardens, they have a cafe, restaurant, farm shop and several other shopping outlets, you can even get married there.

Spring Video Tour.

With our gardening club’s meetings cancelled for at least the next three months and the majority of us self isolating for various health reasons, I decided to record a film, Spring Tour, ‘Our Garden@19’ to share with our members on what should have been our meeting day.
This is the first time I have done this using the video setting on my canon camera, therefore it is not very smooth and you will need the sound on your device on full to hear my dulcet tones!
You do not require a Youtube account to watch it, just click on the link below.
I now happily share it with my brimfields.com followers, enjoy and stay well.

The Alpine beds.

Tulips, Pots and Saucers.

The beginning of November saw the planting of pots with, crocus, iris, narcissus and species rock tulips.

Old hanging baskets used to keep the squirrels away.

Two large pots either side of the banana bench were planted with Tulip ‘Abu Hassan’, Siberian Wallflowers and Forget-me-Nots.

When the rain finally eased I managed to complete planting my remaining tulip bulbs.

Those of you who regularly follow my blog will know that I rotate dahlias with tulips in the raised beds edging the patio. Last year I used three bulb saucers for the tulips as an experiment to see if it was any easier, when it came to lifting them in the spring.

I was suitably impressed to use them for all the tulips in these beds this year. I purchased extra ones to have four 30cm ones for each bed. One hundred flaming spring green tulip bulbs were shared out between the eight saucers, four pots of Camassia leichtlinii ‘Blue Heaven’ saved from last year, Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ planted around the edge with Wallflower ‘Vulcan’, grow from seed planted in July, in between the bulbs. Forget-me-Not’s will be added in the spring from self-sown ones from around the garden.

Hopefully they will all be putting on a show for our opening on the 2nd and 3rd of May, in aid of the village church, when we will have a plant stall to raise funds for St Richards Hospice, based in Worcester.

Here’s looking forward to Spring.

Anniversary.

Five year’s this November brimfields.com on WordPress.

Even the Head Gardener emerges occasionally!

Robin

Dahlia ‘David Howard’.

Acer griseum

Rest time!

Open Gardens.

Goldfinches on the niger seed and sunflower hearts feeders.

Trained as a Globe.

 

Now a Golden Globe.

Queen of the Night

 

Flaming Spring Green.

Rose Generous Gardener.


May Joy.

Our garden@19, in May, was cloaked in the joy of May flowers, starting with the Wisteria floribunda ‘Alba’ …

Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’
Allium ‘Beau Regard’
Allium Mount Everest with White Honesty.
The Blue Border with Allium ‘Purple Sensation ‘.
Iris ‘Alcazar’.
Hesperis matronalis ‘White’
Prunus ‘serrula’ our mug tree.

These pictures were taken just before our NGS May opening, when 77 visitors came on a Tuesday. We are now preparing for our next opening on Monday June 17th.

Bulbs, Sunshine, Tea and Cake.

The churchyard at Birlingham, Nr Pershore in Worcestershire has long been a pilgrimage for snowdrop lovers in the area. Bulb Teas are held each Saturday and Sunday in February until Sunday 24th February in the Village Hall from 11.00am to 4.00 pm.

The Grade II listed church of St James with its 15C tower, which at one time contained a dovecote, sits in the middle of the village by a small green, with the old school, now a private house, and the village hall.

We visited on Sunday, in glorious sunshine, and with the snowdrops starting to go over, crocus and cyclamen were taking their place.

A Cherry tree just outside the church wall was in full flower with honey bees taking advantage of the  sunshine to gather nectar.

 A colony of bees have made their home in the tower…

In this hole under the old clock face.

The church was open and had been decorated with flower arrangements.

The teas and cakes were proving to be very popular on this beautiful afternoon in this charming Worcestershire village.

Snowdrop Temptation.

We visited the first National Garden Scheme, http://ngs.org.uk open garden in Worcestershire on Sunday. The garden, Brockamin, includes Plant Heritage National Collections of Asters and some hardy Geraniums. It opens for Snowdrops in February, Daffodils in March and Asters in September.

The 1.5 acre informal garden contains mixed borders planted with hardy perennials and shrubs, several of which were in flower or adding stem colour.

Lonicera fragrantissima & Iris reticulata

Hellebores, Crocus with an early Narcissi adding to the colour.



N. Bowles Early Sulphur.
Crocus protected from visitors feet.
and swathes of Eranthus Hyemalis

Then of course the snowdrops, all labeled for identification.

Tea and cakes along with plants for sale were there to tempt us. Was I tempted I hear you ask, lets just say I have always been attracted to gold!

A feeding frenzy in the rain.

I have observed over the years that the birds visit our feeders in greater numbers on a wet day, more than any other weather, except snow.

These pictures were taken on Friday through the dining room window with the flash turned off. The Goldfinches were joined by a pair of Siskins and a Bluetit during that time.