An Early Autumnal Outing

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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14 Comments Add yours

  1. The walk through the garden and green house was so wonderful…Such an amazing feeling.

  2. Lovely photos, enjoyed your tour.

  3. rusty duck says:

    Whoa… cool new theme!
    I love Sorbus and ‘Copper Kettle’ looks fab. Another one I am after is S. vilmorinii, which for memory you already have? Hope it is having a good year.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi RD
      I do indeed, it looking good and shortly should be happier soon as over hanging prunus is being cut back

  4. Julie says:

    I enjoyed the tour Helen and your photos are very enticing for a visit. I have just had a refund on a previously purchased bare root Kashmiri Rowan that produced orange berries, I would of been thrilled had it been ‘Copper kettle’, that really is lovely.

  5. Anna says:

    Oh it’s looking different here Helen. My eyes appreciate the larger font – must do something similar on my blog. You found the perfect occupation for what turned out to be a sunny October day. I’m sure that you could shoehorn another sorbus in somewhere or if not you definitely have room for crocus speciosus oxonian – what a fabulous colour!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Anna
      I did wonder if the font was too large but we are all getting older!!! I keep toying with a sorbus in the front garden. As for the crocus I’m not 100% sure that is the variety as the ones Ive found on line are much paler.

  6. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Lovely gardens, so of course you were tempted! Brugamasia is a weed in many parts of NZ now and has been mis-used as a drug! There have been quite a few deaths! I used to have the lovely apricot one. It grows quite easily from cuttings so maybe you could have some on the go in case yours dies. Spring getting warmer after lots of gales from SW our cold wind. Had another swim on Sat when pool reached 20.4. Yea summer on way! Solar heating needs SUN to work and had a few weeks of little sun, just rain, clouds and gales!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Yvonne
      I havent thought of taking cuttings of the brugmansia, I might give that a go, although it may be a little late in the year now. Mine is a white one but I think the apricot ones are much nicer

  7. bittster says:

    Looking at your pictures I can’t help but think about all the weeds and overenthusiastic spreaders I pulled out this afternoon. I just don’t know how those large beds are managed, mine will never look that good! It really speaks of effort and care. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi bittster
      They have gardeners unlike us!!

  8. threadspider says:

    Enjoyed your tour of Hergest Croft very much. We visited late last summer and it was looking far less lovely than in your pictures- perhaps we caught it betwen seasons. It certainly is sparkling in the autumn light. The sorbus is a real beauty. We have started looking for lovely autumn tints for our garden and test one fits the bill.
    I like the combination of sedum and aster in the herbaceous border too. I have found. it hard to think of lovely autumn combinations because I’m always thinking of Spring, but this is a good one-simple but effective.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi TS
      I visted in summer once and you are right it isnt the best time. They have some amazing rhodendrons and also the azalea garden so I think it is probably best to visit late spring or in the autumn

  9. Beautiful photos! Fall is my favorite time to visit the arboretum. Great post.

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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