Suffolk and N Essex Garden Tour – Day 2

Ultingwick, Maldon
Ultingwick, Maldon

Day 2 of our tour welcomed us with lovely sunshine and we set off optimistically to our first garden – Ultingwick, nr Maldon.  I was looking forward to visiting this garden as I have been friends with its owner, Phillippa, on Twitter for a couple of years now.  I know that Phillippa does not think this is the best time to visit her garden as she really focuses on mass tulips in Spring and then late Summer planting.

IMG_5434

However, the roses were out in abundance and despite the torrential rain the day before they were looking very good and smelling heavenly.  There was a very pretty yellow climbing rose over an entrance arch, which I didn’t photograph, but I was completely bewitched by its scent – apparently it is Goldfinch and it is on my wants list.  Seeing all of Phillippa’s climbing roses, has reinforced my feeling that I need to add some to my garden – to the extent that one has already been planting at the front of the house.

IMG_5442

Part of Phillippa’s garden is made up if a large meadow with mown paths through it.  It was just beginning to colour up with scabious flowering and I expect it will soon look glorious.  However, I did learn yesterday that due to the heavy rainfall in the area the river that runs along the boundary of the property has burst its banks and flooded the garden which is such a pity.

IMG_5462

I was surprised that I didn’t have more photographs of the garden particularly the herbaceous borders but I think I was distracted by talking to my colleagues about the garden and how wonderful the setting is.  What really interested me was Phillippa’s collection of succulents and other tender plants.  You can see the pots around the front door in the top photograph but work had just started on placing the late summer planting now that the tulips have been removed.  I was particularly fascinated by the way the aeoniums have been planted in the border above – a real gaggle of aeoniums all huddling together.  On the other side of the central pot is a similar group of a different type of aeoniums, a much shorter greener variety, which had taken on a sort of organic shape.

I really enjoyed Phillippa’s garden, there was a lovely atmosphere partly contributed to by the listed buildings but also partly from the elegant and generous planting.  I would love to visit again either to see the tulips or the late summer planting.

RHS Garden Hyde Hall
RHS Garden Hyde Hall

I have to say that I was disappointed with my visit to RHS Hyde Hall because  I am annoyed with myself as it turned out later than I had missed quite a bit of the garden as I was talking to colleagues and ran out of time.  So much so that I decided the next day to look around the garden in the first instance on my own before joining up with others.  However, I did like what I saw.  As you arrive there are newish plantings near the Plant Centre with block plantings of perennials in squares rather than the traditional herbaceous border.  I particularly liked the colour of this delphinium but I don’t know its name.

IMG_5487

As you walk up the hill to the original garden, not that I knew that was where it was, you travel through large generous sweeping borders which had a strong impact due to the limited colour palette and were a good example of how to incorporate grasses into a herbaceous planting.  It did get a little samey though as you walked up the hill and I think that maybe different colour palettes could be used in different borders.

IMG_5490

At the top of the hill is the Australian/South Hemisphere garden which I really enjoyed as I have a weakness for plants from this part of the world and it was great to see them grown so well and to be envious of the free draining soil which allows this success.

I would like to visit this garden again so I can see the rest of it, maybe I could incorporate it with another visit to Phillippa’s garden.

Furzelea, Danbury
Furzelea, Danbury

Our last garden of the day was a lovely surprise.  A private garden of only 2/3rd of an acre which was a plantsmen’s delight and a demonstration that just because you collect plants it doesn’t mean you can’t have well planted borders.

IMG_5508

Take for example this White Garden which is clearly white but actually there is little white in the garden.  Avril, the plantswoman in charge, hasn’t fallen into the White Garden trap and filled the space with white flowering plants instead she has used white variegations with some white flowers and it just works.

IMG_5512

My photos of the borders are over saturated so not that great but if you look at this border you can see how the heuchera picks up on the digitalis and the poppy and how the phormium picks up on the brown leaved plant at the front of the border.  When you look closely at the planting the combinations are even more interesting.IMG_5527

Take this combination for example and look how the geranium palmatum picks up the pink tones of the Phormium leaves and in turn the heuchera picks up on the purple of the leaves.  The colours trickle right down to the front of the planting with the pink flowers of the heuchera.

IMG_5531

And this combination with the flowers of the grass, an annual that I don’t have the name of but an determined to find out, and how they work with the phormium leaves with the foliage of the artemisa also picking up on the silver tones in the leaves.  Interestingly the majority of the combinations I liked were foliage ones with the flowers an added bonus.

For me this garden was one of the ones that made me think about how I plant in my garden and from which I learnt some really useful lessons. I really enjoyed it

 

 

 

Suffolk and N Essex Garden Tour – Day 1

IMG_5340 1

Our first day started with torrential rain causing delays on the motorway  causing us to be late for our first garden of the four day garden visiting extravaganza that we were embarking on.  Due to the awful weather, the owners of The Moat House generously invited us into their home for morning tea and cake.  I think it rakes a real generosity of spirit to invite 38 soggy strangers into your home with their damp shoes and dripping umbrellas and coats particularly given the pale green carpet.

Moat House, Little Saxham
Moat House, Little Saxham

Being hardy gardeners, having refueled, we were keen to explore the first garden.  The Moat House is a partially moated garden of two acres which has been developed over 2 years. The garden is very much your traditional country garden with herbaceous borders full of roses, generally in pastels shades, alliums, geraniums, delphiniums, and peonies.  IMG_5343

As you would expect with any English country garden there was plenty of box edging and topiary around the garden.  Personally, I’m not that keen on box edging but I can see that it provides a nice edge and has the benefit of hiding the legs of plants and the bare soil but you need to have the discipline to keep them looking sharp in order to achieve the best effect.

image

And we had the first of many parterres filled with herbs and plants for cutting.

Fullers Mill Garden, West Stow
Fullers Mill Garden, West Stow

With the rain abated and the sun shining we moved on to our next garden – Fullers Mill Garden, West Stow.  The garden was created by Bernard Tickner who has gardened here for some 50 years and has now placed the 7 acre garden in trust for the charity Perennial. Bernard is a plantsman and his approach is to create a garden which is very loosely designed, giving a natural feel, and providing interest all year round.  The garden is almost on an island created by the diverted mill stream which powered the Fullers Mill.  The Fulling Mill has existed on the site since 1458, fulling is a process through which you make cloth thicker by passing it through a series of wooden mallets, the fabric is then stretched out on the drying ground.

IMG_5374

I quite liked the looser planting style to the previous garden and it was the favourite garden for many that day.   generously  borders with gentle curves are planted up with shrubs and perennials merging together in soft mounds.

image

However, the real feature of Fullers Mill Garden is the stream and mill-pond.  The inclusion of water in the garden was a real theme of the gardens we visited this week which was interesting as we constantly heard that we were in the driest part of the country.  Presumably this is because when the houses were built there was no water on tap so the properties were located close to streams in order to have easy access to the little water that was available.

IMG_5363

I think Fullers Mill Garden is one that would have benefited us having a little more time to explore but we spent the day trying to catch up the time lost in the morning on the motorway.

Bellflower Nursery, The Walled Garden, Langham Hill
Bellflower Nursery, The Walled Garden, Langham Hill

We ended the day with our first real plant buying opportunity at Bellflower Nursery.  The nursery specialising in Campanula, hence its name, and hold a national collection.  I have to admit that I’m not that keen on Campanula as they never grow very well for me but I really enjoyed visiting this garden purely due to its location within a walled garden.

IMG_5397

The owner of the nursery, Sue Wooster, not only has her nursery to run but also the ornamental side of the walled garden to maintain and she shared with us that she has also just taken on the tenancy of the edible part of the walled garden. She was doing a sterling job is maintaining the borders which I think also act as stock beds for the nursery but what I enjoyed was the slightly dishevelled aspect of parts of the garden which Sue admitted had a habit of getting the better of her.  There is something particularly romantic about a walled garden especially one that has the ghosts of its past still evident.

IMG_5405

So day 1 having started a bit wet under foot ended well with us in high spirits and our coach driver rapidly becoming aware that he was going to have to develop skills in packing plants.

Save

Save

Save

The Valley Garden

The wonderful thing about bank holidays is that they give you an opportunity to go garden visiting and still do all the other things that demand time at the weekend.  So Easter Monday found me taking to the road and wandering along the wonderful A449 from Ledbury to Ross-on-Wye – this road is worth driving down just for the sake of it, the countryside is gorgeous.

My destination was The Old Corn Mill near Newent which was opening for the NGS.  I didn’t do any research in advance so had no idea what to expect and was pleasantly pleased with what I found.  The garden surrounds an old Mill which has been modernised, in fact it was awarded the award for Best Conversion/Renovation in the 1999 Daily Telegraph Homebuilding competition.  Being a Mill Garden there is naturally a stream and the whole site is located in the bottom of a valley.  You are given a leaflet when you arrive with information about the house and garden and I quickly spotted that the garden was designed for ease of maintenance, to provide year round interest and included a woodland walk.

The leaflet also explained that most of the plants had been propagated by the owner and this probably explains the repetition of plants around the garden and the huge drifts.  To be honest I find myself moving more and more towards this approach in my own garden instead of the mad dotty approach I have had due to my inability to resist plants!!  The planting throughout the garden is predominantly herbaceous with a backdrop of shrubs and trees.  This is not a garden for people who like strong structure such as hard landscaping, topiary, hedges etc.  The structure of The Old Corn Mill Garden comes from the way the slope has been used and I found this particularly interesting since like my garden the land slopes up from the house.  They haven’t gone for lots of hard landscaping but instead have put in grass or bark paths and planted up the rest of the slope.  The paths are wide and generous and I spent quite a bit of time looking at this and wondering if I could do the same instead of my sloping lawn which is a pain.

The only thing that jarred with me was one bed where there were colourful bright tulips amongst the planting.  The brightness of these flowers amongst the subtler planting surprised me and I’m not convinced it was right but that is purely my personal opinion and I expect the owner welcomed the brightness of the flowers after the long grey winter we have had.

I liked the shadiness of the woodland walk and the cool stillness of the pool.  I also liked the way that from the shady areas you were drawn forward to the sunny open areas and vice versa.  As it was a very warm sunny day the shade was definitely very welcome.

Another feature of this garden was the sculpture doted around the garden, as in the top photo.  There was a combination of quite formal sculpture but also amusing whimsical ones.  Given that the garden is about 1.5 acres this worked and again I wondered about introducing some sculpture into my garden.  Sadly my purse doesnt stretch to the sort of sculpture I  like but I did leave wondering about looking for reclaimed items that I could put in the garden to draw the eye etc.

All  in all whilst the garden wasn’t as pristine as some would expect (there were weeds but I didn’t think they detracted, better than bare earth!) it made me think about my garden and consider ways  of doing things differently or better.  To me this is  everything I would want from a garden visit – food for thought and impressions that will stay with me for a while.