A day in the Wye Valley

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Last Sunday I had a very pleasant day out in the Wye Valley, along the English and Welsh border.  The purpose of my trip was to visit my friends Kate and Hitesh at their lovely garden on the side of the valley but with a little time in hand I decided to pop further down towards Chepstow and have a quick look at Tintern Abbey

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I have to confess that I didn’t actually go into the Abbey, I have visited before, but I had enough time to take some photographs and a quick walk along the River Wye, beloved of the likes of Gilpin, the chief exponent of the Picturesque Movement.


It was a chilly grey day with the occasional moment of sunshine but this didn’t deter people getting out and about and the area was busy with walkers, cyclists as well as those visiting the Abbey.  It was so chilly that I was glad to get back in the car and head up hill to the Barn House Garden.


I first visited in the summer after Kate made contact through our blogs. Like mine the garden at Barn House slopes up from the house but possibly not as steeply as mine and there is definitely more space than in my garden.  What really interests me about Barn House is the use of grasses, a group of plants that I have never really managed to get a grip of.  I have seen them used time and again and rarely been impressed but somehow Kate has really managed to make a garden with a significant grass component that  works.  I suspect part of the success is the quantity of each variety that are included in the plantings so you get a feel of the character of the grass.

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I have to admit I am one of those gardeners that likes to tidy up the garden at the end of Autumn and I’m not very good at leaving seed heads over the winter.  However, when you see the almost black seedheads of the rudbeckia (I think this is what they are) against the bleached grass it is very effective. As you can see Kate has  worked on creating some round the year interest with the inclusion of cornus and the birches which provide wonderful colour at this time of year.


Kate and Hitesh normally open their garden for the NGS at this time of year, as well as in September, but sadly due to the wet winter the field they borrow for car parking is too sodden to be used so they had to cancel although there were still some keen garden visitors who appeared and were made very welcome.

After a lovely day out I wended my way home across country and pondered using a few more grasses in my garden, especially the front garden.


7 Comments Add yours

  1. It was lovely to see you Helen, we’ve made so many friends through the garden. Good news : the photographer we were talking about has had her winter set of Barn House garden accepted for publication December 2016 🙂.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      That is good news Kate and I spotted that the garden will appear on GW later this year, how exciting

  2. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Hi Helen – Isn’t it great that we all like different types of gardens! I personally don’t like the very formal bed and straight line gardens. Prefer more natural – even tho’ probably not really natural to that area really. I really like Barn House and the movement to grasses but still like my seasonal flowers set amongst our tropical plantings. Keen gardeners don’t mind a bit of ‘weather’ to admire nice gardens. Had tropical down pours yesterday – really really wet rain – and got drenched tying tomatoes up in the storm. Cyclones up in the Pacific and we got a bit of the tail end of it. Was very warm and good for the garden. Our Dutch visitors said they don’t get ‘wet’ rain like that in the Netherlands! And today hot and sunny again! That’s weather for you!

  3. Renee says:

    Very wonderful. Im always impressed by those gardens that can use large grasses in a meadow-y way.

  4. I think when grasses became trendy, a lot of gardeners included them without thought, which will explain why so often you have been underwhelmed1

  5. Cathy says:

    What an enjoyable day out – and especially when meeting blogging friends too. I hope to get to Kate’s garden sometime this year – always good to hear more about it in the meantime

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