Blackmore Grange July 2018.


On Saturday the Black Pear Gardening Club visited Blackmore Grange, owned by Doug and Anne Robertson. A total of £206 was raised and donated to St. Richards Hospice, Worcester. The Hospice has recently launched a fundraising drive to support its £5.3m expansion plan. You can find out more via this Link

41 members visited on a beautifully sunny day (another one!), to enjoy the garden and tea and biscuits (of course). Anne also invited members to bring along a picnic to enjoy in the garden.

Anne, a knowledgeable plants women, has previously opened her garden for the NGS. This quote is from the 2011 NGS Yellow Book.

Blackmore Grange. “All year round two acre rural garden surrounds the family home. Packed with a large variety of plants, shrubs and trees. The swimming pool has been transformed into the stable garden, an outstanding area of traditional cottage-style planting. Also a mixed orchard, woodland walk, mixed planting beds and kitchen garden”. Described by Chris Beardshaw as “A natural garden full of interest and variety”.

One entrance to the garden is along this woodland path…


…where you arrive into one of many seating ares in the garden.


From here you have views across the sweeping lawn in front of the house towards two curved borders one edging the west facing terrace, the other viewed across the lawn…


These borders are packed with plants, amongst those enjoying the summer sun were fennel and lavender…


…and this beautiful dark blue agapanthus ‘Navy Blue’…


Following this path along side the border…IMG_3740

…past a thriving kniphoia…


…you enter the stable garden…


…where the teas were served.

The plants which caught everyones’ attention here were the dark red dahlias, ‘Chat Noir’, ‘Rip City’, ‘Sam Hopkins’ and with its dark foliage, ‘Kamar Choc’…

Dahlia ‘Karma Choc’.

…a double Hollyhock…


and this delphinium ‘Faust’.

Delphinium ‘Faust’.


Verbena bonariensis, agapanthus and succulents growing in the gravel and broken pots.


Climbers including, ornamental vines, roses and clematis, cover the pergola and scrambled up through support plants.


This dahlia and hydrangea add a splash of light colour, providing a perfect contrast to the smoke bush, several of which were flowering in the garden.


Leaving the stable yard garden for the woodland walk, some of the roses were still flowering with their hips just beginning to develop their autumn scarlet colour.


A welcome bench in the shade…


Anne, on the right with club member Betty Mills.


It is important to read the plant label to ensure you have the correct name to go with the photo.


Turning back towards the house you see the mixed orchard, which is underplanted with spring bulbs and roses growing up into some of the more mature apple trees. In the centre of the lawn, is a magnificent tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera.


Near the house, down some steps, is Anne’s potting shed and the kitchen garden with its fruit cage full of ripening fruit…


…and at the rear, an impressive pot display of hostas, acers and seasonal bedding plants.


No one was in any hurry to leave, enjoying the weather and the setting in this “Natural garden full of interest and variety”.

Chris, Camassia & Chaos.

Our gardening club, The Black Pear Gardening Club, meets monthly, with speakers during the winter months and garden visits during the summer.

For the February meeting we welcomed Stella Exley from Hare Spring Cottage Plants, York.

The Title of her talk was ‘Chris, Camassia and Chaos’.

Stella regaled us with accounts of the trials and tribulations she went through to provide camassia to Chris Beardshaw for his RHS Chelsea gold medal winning garden in 2015.

It started with a chance meeting at Arley Hall show, following which Chris contacted Stella, to arrange a visit to her nursery.  She holds the national collection of camassia and grows other hardy perennials.

He showed Stella his plans for the show garden and she agreed to grow 2000 camassia, individually in pots, to provide the 1000 that he needed.
In order to do this she decided to actually grow 4000, this was on top of the 10,000 that she normally grew, nearly all single handed!

All her plants are grown outside on the floor with only a small poly tunnel and greenhouse to work in. That winter they were ‘blessed’ with two periods of snow which held back the development of the camassia. With her experience of growing them she knew they could not be forced on under cover, even if she had the facilities to do so.
The decision was made to rotate them in and out of the poly tunnel, for only two hours during the day and four hours at night, which she did wearing a head torch. She then started to feed them carefully with liquid feed so as not to scorch the leaves.

Chris visited the nursery to see the camassia in flower for the first time just before the show.camassia-gallery-about-gallery-07

Delighted with what he saw he asked Stella to choose the ones that would go on to the lorry for the garden. To make it more difficult they had to be transported trailer at a time down the narrow track to the waiting artic lorry.

Stella ended by showing us pictures of the gold medal winning garden.

Following a question and answer session, she was busy selling some of the many pots of camassia she had brought with her all the way from North Yorkshire.
There was general agreement that this was one of the most interesting talks we have had.

Stella and the pots of Camassia she brought for sale at the meeting.


I succumbed to the ‘Charms’ of Camassia leichtlinii ‘Sacajawea’ for our Green and white garden. It has ivory white flowers with variegated foliage.

You can visit Stella’s website: Hare Spring Cottage Plants.

The website for the Black Pear gardening Club: BPGC

Do you grow camassia?

Unless indicated otherwise all pictures are published with Stella Exley’s permission.

Trentham Gardens.

Some summer flowers and a little sunshine to bring cheer to a winter’s day.

In August 2016 we visited Trentham Gardens in Staffordshire with the Black Pear Gardening Club.

Trentham is an award winning garden which has won numerous awards including BBC Countryfile’s Garden of the Year 2015.

There is a large Garden Centre and Shopping Village, restaurants and a 119 bedroom Premier Inn Hotel.

There is a separate entrance to the Monkey Forest, which our coach first took us to, here you can walk amongst 140 free roaming Barbary macaques, in a natural woodland setting for this endangered species.
For added excitement there is ‘Aerial Extreme’, a treetop high rope adventure course.


In 1786 the 2nd Earl Gower, owner of Trentham was created Marquess of Stafford.

He commissioned, Lancelot ’Capability’ Brown, between 1759 – 1780 to enlarge the lake, create parkland, a Ha-Ha and build two lodges at the end of the lake.

The flying Geese came later!

In 1803 the 2nd marquess of Stafford married Elizabeth, Countess of Sutherland, one of the wealthiest heiresses in the country. Their son George Granville, 2nd Duke of Sutherland along with his architect Charles Barry were responsible for much of what you see today at Trentham. His statue sits on the top of high land at the southern end of the lake.
Barry created the famous Italian Gardens, dividing it into three terraces.


By the late 1800’s the pollution of the River Trent from the pottery industries was so severe the lake and the fountains were ruined.

In 1905 The Duke and Duchess of Sutherland abandoned the house. It was eventually sold and demolished for building materials.

The property has passed through several different owners with The Department of Environment listing several of the remaining buildings. Eventually, in1996, it came into the ownership of St Modwen Properties PLC.
Their plan was to create a tourist and leisure destination and to restore the estate and gardens. They were finally granted permission in 2003 to start on their £100m development of Trentham.

You enter the gardens through the shopping village via this bridge over the river Trent.


Titania points the way to her 14 fairy friends from the shopping village. Each fairy is different, they are placed all around the garden for children (and adults ) to find. They were created by Robin Wight.


At the centre of Trentham Gardens is the mile long, Capability Brown designed, Trentham Lake.  Along some of the walks around the lake are new meadows by Nigel Dunnett and the team who were responsible for the wildflower plantings at the Olympic Park. These were planted to celebrate the centenary of Capability Brown.

The contemporary revival of the famous Italian Gardens was led by renowned designer and multi-Chelsea gold-medal winner Tom Stuart-Smith.



Some of the plants in the Italian Garden.
Some of the plants in the Italian Garden.

Along one side of the Italian garden is a 90 metre Rose Garden, planted with David Austin roses and a trellis walk.

To the east of the Italian Gardens are the Rivers of Grass and the adjacent Floral Labyrinth.


Both these schemes were designed by the Dutch plantsman, and Chelsea gold-medal winner, Piet Oudolf.

The fairy “Anahi” was living on the Giant Dandelions.


The Giant Dandelions were created by Robin Wight’s daughter Amy, and are situated alongside the lake.

“They look wonderful with the Wildflower Meadow as a backdrop.
‘Spring’ the naughty nymph, appears as though she’s pole-vaulting from a delicate dandelion into the landscape beyond.

There were even snowdrops in August!


If you are looking for a garden to visit in 2017, this is one I would highly recommend.

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Canon EOS 1100D. Canon,18-200mm lens. Canon wide-angle lens, 10-18mm.