The Courts Garden, Nr Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire

Following a wonderful weekend with family in Somerset, after breakfast this morning we studied the National Trust guide book for a garden to visit on our way home – one that we had not been to before.  My eye fell upon The Courts Garden, Nr Bradford on Avon .  What a beautiful, tranquil gem we found.

This absolute delight of a true English Country Garden is tucked away in the village of Holt, between Melksham and Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire. Parking is  in the small Village Hall car park in the road opposite with overflow parking further along.

We were lucky with the weather, the sun was hot and the sky an amazing blue.  The first thing that struck me, despite the number of people in the garden, was the peace and tranquillity, the birds were singing loudly high in the trees and I immediately fell in love with The Courts Garden.

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Created in the early 1900’s the garden is based on the model of  Hidcote and the subtle colour combinations, sense of flowing harmony and balance has a Gertrude Jekyll influence.   Major Clarence Goff and his wife Lady Cecilie purchased The Courts in 1922 and were instrumental for a lot of the planting.   Their daughter continued to live at Courts Garden after it was acquired by the National Trust in 1943 and she planted the surrounding arboretum in 1952.  The house is not open to the public and remains occupied by tenants.

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Courts Garden is absolutely charming with many interesting plants and excellent use of colour.  At this time of the year, as to be expected, almost every border is planted with tulips.  They were all cleverly coloured matched and contrasted, such as a very pretty pale pink and lilac Erysimum with sugary pink tulips as a backdrop.

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The garden and arboretum covers 7 acres but appears larger, because of the various “rooms” enclosed with Yew and Box.  There is one thing about the garden that I didn’t like that much and that was the border of cloud box hedging.   This type of clipped box hedging leaves me cold, mainly because I don’t understand the artistic nature of such a design.

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Back to what I did like.  I particularly liked the combination of dark, almost black, tulips dotted through the Stipa Ornamental grasses.

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The water gardens contain a rectangular lily pond with masses of waterlilies in the large pool and beyond, in a second pool, are Giant Gunnera.

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I understand from the lady in the ticket office that there is a team of 4 National Trust gardeners and 24 dedicated volunteers.   They certainly work very hard, the lawn edges were neatly trimmed and I couldn’t see a weed anywhere –  neither could I see any slug/snail damage!   The small vegetable garden is relatively recent and there are established peach tree espaliers and an apple orchard, with the blossom looking fabulous.

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In another part of the garden, there was a striking border of white and green striped tulips, which I believe are called “Spring Green”,  interspersed with a brilliant white tulip.

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I was loathe to leave this garden, and could have spent much more time just wandering around.  I know I would have found something new every time, but have promised myself that I will return in the Summer.  With the Spring planting about to go over in the next few weeks, there is a lot of Summer planting still to come through and I can imagine that the colours in the herbaceous borders will be magnificent.   With most of the Alliums and Peonies showing tantalising promises with their tight buds, I will leave you with a photo of one Peony that decided it was warm enough to flower.

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The Courts Garden is open from 11:00 to 17:30 every day except Wednesday.  If you are in the vicinity I would thoroughly recommend that you don’t miss the opportunity to pay a visit.

The Ferns Have Made an Appearance

My garden is not large, it’s not even considered as being a “good” size, when I look at books with ideas for small gardens, even they are about twice the size.   In fact in the big scheme of things it is really quite small, if it was a house it would be called bijou – but as the saying goes, small is beautiful.

I have most things I want in my personal green patch, even a water feature albeit a small bucket.  At the far end of the garden in a corner hidden behind shrubs and a couple of holly trees, is my woodland patch.

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This is where I throw larger branches after pruning and have gradually built over the years what is now a great hidey hole  for any wildlife who care to use it.  This corner gets very little sunshine and it is here I also grow ferns.  Nothing splendid, there is no collection, just a few odd ones that I have picked up along the way.   It became waterlogged over the Winter rains and I thought the ferns were done for.   Recently I cleared a lot of dead leaves and there were no signs of new fronds.

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This week has been sunny and warm, and lo and behold I have ferns again – they seem to have appeared over night.

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At this stage they give an excellent impression of Triffids.

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Blows the thaw-wind pleasantly,
Drips the soaking rain,
By fits looks down the waking sun:
Young grass springs on the plain;
Young leaves clothe early hedgerow trees;
Seeds, and roots, and stones of fruits,
Swollen with sap put forth their shoots;
Curled-headed ferns sprout in the lane;
Birds sing and pair again.

- from Spring by Christina  Rossetti

A Beneficial Thursday in the Garden

I do like working part time! It gives me a few days during the week in which I can get out into the garden. To me this is especially important when the good weather happens during the working week and it’s rotten over the weekends…why is that?

I missed out on Patient Gardener’s monthly meme “End of Month View” at the end of March.    This is my ‘Into The Second Week of the Next Month Review”.

This year the Ribes has been particularly splendid and, with the forsythia, this corner of a somewhat shady part of the garden is looking very colourful.

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I decided not to grow any vegetables this year in the raised bed, replacing them with cutting flowers instead. Because it then proved to be an invitation to the local cats to use it as a public toilet, I have had to cover it with wire mesh.  Initially a wily puddy tat wriggled its way under the wire and had a good dig around, so the edges are hooked down now and this seems to have done the trick.

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There are some tiny flower buds on the Aquilegia and in a week or two they will be in full bloom.  Most have reverted to a dusty dull pink colour so I bought another two at the weekend, a William Guinness and a Blue Star and today they were introduced to their new home.

The bottom border is starting to look lush, the Agapanthus and the Allium are filling out well and I hope will produce lots of blooms this year.  The eagle eyed of you will see that I have some Spanish Bluebells. Purists will throw their hands up in horror at this.  When I moved in 14 years ago the garden was bursting with them as well as being over run with ivy.  I pulled the majority up but they do add a lovely blue tinge at this time of the year and as long as I keep them in check I am ok with them.

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Well aware that Peonies take a while to settle and decide to blossom,  I am keeping my fingers crossed that it produces a lot of flowers this year.   It is now five years old, I had one flower in 2012 and two in 2013 so it is about time it flourished!

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Last year, I bought a Rudbeckia and Echinacea from Crocus and am delighted to see that they have made their way through the wet winter.  In order to protect them from cats and foxes, both seem to delight in digging up the garden, I covered them with bamboo cloches during the last few months and today have put little wire guards around them, with plenty of sticks to make it less attractive.    If we really do come back as animals in our next lives, cats were certainly never gardeners, they have no respect at all!

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The north facing border, which has been waterlogged for the past few months and gets no sunshine, is always a bit of a struggle. However, the hydrangea is in its element as are the Astilbe.  Somewhere amongst them is hidden a very large hosta.  This always takes a little time to make a showing and I am wondering if the Astilbe has choked it out this year, but then again maybe not, we shall see.

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Also in this damp border, happily growing in moist clay,  is the Euphorbia Fireglow.  I know if it was in drier conditions it would be spreading prolifically but this is its third year so must be quite content.   The orange spiky plastic strips at the back of the bed have fallen off the top of the wall.  I had them “glued” up there a few years ago to stop cats/foxes jumping down onto the plants.  Well it was worth a try.

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I have had a problem writing this post which has tested my patience.  I used my iPad to take the photos as the battery has gone on my camera.  Then I tried to write it using the WordPress iPad App with great difficulty, so saved it as a draft and moved over to my lap top.  The formatting was shot, the photos were not in the right place and it kept shooting back to the beginning – never again!   Back to the good old camera and pc for future posts, and now  I am off for a much needed cup of tea to soothe my nerves.

© Hurtlingtowards60 and Hurtled to 60 and Now Beyond ©AarTeePhotography Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Blues

No, not a post about depression!

I have been making the most of the lovely sunny, and warm, weather this morning and working in the garden.  I nearly wrote “pottering” but it was more than that – there are a lot of things to do now.  Clearing away weeds, trying to remember what is planted where so that anything coming up is not discarded to the compost.  Is that just me or do others have that problem too?

Probably due to the very wet weather, and the consequences of sodden heavy clay,  I have lost a lot of plants which is sad, the Phlox is missing now and I am not sure if the Alstroemeria are going to appear this year, I would have thought I might have seen some shoots by now.    However, it does make room for new plants so all is not lost in the big scheme of things. I don’t have as many Aquilegia either but that’s no great shame as they had all turned pink last year so need replacing anyway.

Why Sunday Blues you might be asking by now?  It is because the garden is taking on a blue tinge and I thought it might be a good starting point for some Sunday photos.

The Forget-me-nots are now creating a lovely haze across the borders.  Although the true blue ones are in a minority, there are a lot of pinky/blue shades this year.

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In among the base of the rose bushes lovely little violets are making an appearance again.   The garden was full of these pretty little flowers when I moved in 14 years ago and they continue to please every year.

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Last but not least is the Grape Hyacinth Muscari which seem to produce a lot of very untidy raggy leaves and few flowers but I am always happy to see them.

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If I look at the base of the leaves, I can see the bluebells are just about to come out also but not for about a week or two.

Today, Sunday 30th March is Mothering Sunday in the UK and I am off to see my Mum this afternoon so no more gardening for me today.   I have had cards from my daughters and my eldest sent me some Champagne Truffles, (my favourite chocs) and handcream which I can never have enough of.

Have a wonderful Sunday whatever you are doing and best wishes to you all!

© Hurtlingtowards60 and Hurtled to 60 and Now Beyond ©AarTeePhotography Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

It’s been many months since I have taken up the Weekly Photo Challenge.   This week it is Reflections  and it’s a topic that appealed to me and I instantly knew what photos I wanted to share for this challenge and dusted off my memory cards.   It is a photo challenge that has been set before in 2012 and whilst I have tried to use new photos I have used at least one again, and make no apology.

However, the more I thought about the word, the more I realised there is more to Reflections than a mirror image, it could be philosophical also – we reflect on life.  Therefore my first Reflections photo is of my local beach at sunset, with a verse from Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If”  which is an excellent reflection on life.

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch, If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, If all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds' worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

Then there is the more literal take on Reflections.  These photos were taken in 2011 and 2o12 and have been a personal reflection of happy times spent with friends.

Glass baubles on the edge of the lake at Vann, near Godalming Surrey. Taken - May 2012

Glass baubles on the edge of the lake at Vann, near Godalming Surrey.
Taken – May 2012

A very popular scene for photographers.  Sheffield Park, Nr Uckfield, East Sussex.  Taken - October 2011

A very popular scene for photographers. Sheffield Park, Nr Uckfield, East Sussex.
Taken – October 2011

I love the shadow reflections on this bridge in Buckingham.   Taken - September 2011

I love the shadow reflections on this bridge in Buckingham.
Taken – September 2011

Finally, the magical reflection of sunshine on raindrops.  Taken - April 2012

Finally, the magical reflection of sunshine on raindrops.
Taken – April 2012

© Hurtlingtowards60 and Hurtled to 60 and Now Beyond ©AarTeePhotography Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited