Crocus speciosus oxonian
Crocus speciosus oxonian

In need of some gentle stress relief and an escape from all the trials and tribulations that are plaguing my existence at the moment I set off cross country towards the welsh borders and the autumn plant fair at Hergest Croft.

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I have visited a number of times, the last time in Spring, but I have been meaning to visit to see the autumn colour.  The journey was a typical autumnal one with patchs of bright blue skies and sunshine and then periods of mist and dampness.  Luckily being on the side of a hill the garden was clear of the mist and the sun soon burned off the residue.  As well as Hergest Croft’s own plants for sale, including a wide selection of acers and interesting specimen tress, there were a number of small nurseries selling their wares.  I was particularly looking for something to replace the dead acer in the woodland border and after much discussion and advice I came away with a berberis seiboldii and a leptospernum myrtifolium as well as a hydrangea, hellebore and some bedding cyclamen.

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Having completed my purchases I went for a mooch around the grounds.  First up is the rockery/ferny area near the house which I have visited in spring as the ferns have been unfurling so it was good to see it at this time of year.  There are so many herbaceous plants with interesting autumn foliage which I think are overlooked in preference for trees and shrubs. I think the autumn tints above are from Darmera peltata.

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I was particularly taken with this area since it is the effect I am trying to achieve, albeit on a smaller scale, on the slope in my garden.  I also discovered the amazing purpley blue crocus in the top photo.

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I was also interested in this herbaceous border which was still looking good despite the cooler temperatures and the battering we have taken in recent days from the rain.  The planting and colours are reminiscent of what I am trying to achieve in the borders in my garden so again seeing them at this time of year has helped me form better plans and ideas in my head to take forward to next spring.

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Hergest Croft is one of those gardens where I find myself looking up as much as around me.  When I visited in the spring I was taken by the height of the rhododendrons and the way the light played through the spring leaves of the beech trees.  I think in a week or so the autumn leaf colour will be even stronger but the mellow buttery yellows of the birches against the pines/larches (?) was quite lovely.

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It is at this time of year, and maybe spring, that we really appreciate the beauty of trees especially when you see the white bark of the birch in stark contrast to its surroundings.  I saw children intrigued by the peelings of the paperbark maples as well as, strangely, quite a few people head first in the trees looking for labels! There is a wonderful arboretum at Hergest Croft which is wasted on me due to my ignorance about trees but I did recognise the collection of sorbus trees.  I think sorbus is one of my favourite trees and I have a few in the garden but I am now wondering if I can shoe horn in another one. I was particularly taken with the pale orange berries of the Sorbus ‘Copper Kettle’ but also the shape of the tree.

Sorbus 'Copper Kettle'
Sorbus ‘Copper Kettle’

Before leaving and wending my way home I had a nose around the conservatory which was looking the best I have seen it.  I suspect this is because they have brought all the tender plants in pots in. I was particularly impressed with the Brugmansias although I am now worried mine might get this big and my greenhouse is so much smaller.

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