Waterperry Gardens, nr Oxford

The first of our brief tour of gardens in the Oxford area was to Waterperry Gardens close to Oxford.

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It is always a bit hit and miss visiting gardens at the end of September, you never really know what you are going to see as so much of the summer planting is over.   However, judging from the photographs on Twitter, we were on a pretty good bet at seeing some fabulous Asters or Symphyotrichum as they are now called.

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Brief History of Waterperry Gardens

Beatrix Havergal and her friend Avice Saunders established a Ladies Garden School in 1932. During World War II Waterperry was home to ladies in the Women’s Land Army who worked on the land digging for victory.  By the end of the war Waterperry was established as a well respected gardening school.  When Avice Saunders died in 1971 Waterperry was sold to the School of Economic Science, who continued with day courses for horticultural teaching which is still does to this day.  Many courses are run including the RHS Level 2 Principals of Horticulture. Miss Havergal died in 1980.

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I wrote a book review about First Ladies of Gardening.  in March 2015 and Miss Havergal is mentioned in this interesting  book.   Back now to our visit to the garden.

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We were right in hoping the Asters would be good.  They were spectacular!

As to be expected there was still a lot to look at.

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The borders with grasses looked good, although there were some tall grasses at the front hiding shorter plants behind.   Whether this was deliberate planting or trial and error I am not sure but it did seem a pity.  I know that sometimes when a planting plan is new, it is not always easy to guess exactly how tall plants will grow and things like this are rectified in following years.

dsc_0017 I am a great believer in tranquil gardens, and whilst Waterperry cannot be held responsible for noise, or the wind direction, I found the constant drum of the M40 traffic, the Chinook helicopters overhead (I presume from RAF Benson) and private jets from the local Oxford airport, was far from a relaxing experience.  Maybe on another day with the wind blowing the other way it may possibly have been a quieter visit.

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Waterperry Gardens is open daily apart from Christmas Day and New Years Day.  In October it is free for RHS Members.

The University of Oxford Botanic Garden

Today I visited The University of Oxford Botanic Garden and despite it being the end of September and most things are well past their best, I found it impressive and inspiring.  My friend, being  particularly fond of prairie gardens, was keen to see The Merton Borders.

The Merton Borders

The Merton Borders were sown by seed directly in 2011 in collaboration with Professor James Hitchmough from the Department of Landscape at University of Sheffield, and it is a stunning area of 955 m2 covered by naturalistic, ornamental planting based on plants from North America, South Africa and the Mediterranean.   Sand mulch is used to suppress weed growth and promote longevity. Many of the plants originate from dry grassland and this type of planting is quite drought-resistant.

Silphium terebinthinaceum

I was really taken with the dried planting, which included Stipa Gigantea, Eryngiums, Rudbekia, Asters, Kniphofias many are now minus their foliage and weather beaten.  There were a lot of spectacular Silphium terebinthinaceum, with its yellow flowers still intact, which must have been at least 10ft tall if not higher.

Berkheya purpurea

What struck me were the remains of some of the flowering plants nestled in amongst the flatten grasses.  I discovered a very pretty Berkheya purpurea tucked away deep in the dried grass.

The garden is divided mainly into two parts, The Lower Garden and The Walled Garden.

The Walled Garden




The Walled Garden has a variety of  beds containing medicinal plants, with information labels.  Being a cancer survivor I was interested in the Oncology bed.  Amongst the other beds was a Cannabis plant growing in the neurology bed.  Note the sign saying the cannabis contains no THC – the hallucinagenic part of the plant.

The Lower Garden


I was sorely tempted to walk away with the wicker cloches!   Aren’t they lovely. These beds all had detailed and interesting information boards with a brief history of fruit and vegetable plants such as maize, tomatoes and sunflowers.


In another border I came across a white Japanese Anenome almost hidden in a Deschampsia ‘Golden Veil’. 

The Glasshouses


Before leaving the Botanic Garden we paid a visit to the glasshouses housing some enormous palms.   The one with the palms was closed, another has a series of rooms at different temperatures.  One room was full of Sarracenia, they were fascinating and veined colouring of greens and reds they were so interesting.    Unfortunately and annoyingly my camera battery was low so I had to be selective of what to take photos of.   In another room of the glasshouse was a large pond with the most beautiful pale blue lily, but it looks white in the photo.  Dancing and chirping around the pool was the sweetest little Robin who I managed to capture as he jumped from plants to plants playing chase me.   In the last room right up in the roof was a fabulous purple orchid.

If you get the opportunity to visit the Botanic Garden please do, it was tranquil and fascinating.

Opening Times

November – February:  Open daily 9.00am until 4.00pm (last admission 3.15pm)

The Garden is closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day

March – April:  Open daily 9.00am until 5.00pm (last admission 4.15pm)

May – August: Open daily 9.00am until 6.00pm (last admission 5.15pm)

September – October:  Open daily 9.00am until 5.00pm (last admission 4.15pm)

Book Review: Raised Bed Revolution by Tara Nolan

I usually enjoy writing a book review, but occasionally I am sent a book that leaves me totally uninspired.  This is not because it isn’t a good book, it is, if you are into DIY it will be just what you are looking for.    The Raised Bed Revolution by Tara Nolan is published by Cool Springs Press in 2016 with an imprint by Quarto Publishing Group Inc.  


Thinking it would be packed with information and ideas about growing things in raised beds, I quickly discovered it was far more of a build your own DIY guide and I was disappointed,  it was just not my sort of book.   However, if you are adept at wielding a saw, screwdriver and electric drill, you will find it a book to motivate you with great ideas into building your own raised beds.   It might be that you are the gardener and your partner is happy making things, or the other way around,  in which case the book would suit you both.   With detailed shopping lists of the items required to make a variety of beds, it comes with clear pictorial instructions. 

 Growing edibles or flowers in a raised bed has countless advantages, such as economy of space, water conservation, portability, and accessibility. Raised Bed Revolution offers complete reference information on how to get started, covering subjects such as growing-medium options, rooftop gardening, cost-effective gardening solutions, planting tips, watering strategies.


There are lots of interesting ideas, including a wooden potato growing box, recycling an old table into a lettuce box and a laddered herb planter, which I particularly liked, but I would have to find someone to make it for me.  There are informative pieces within the chapters on the do’s and dont’s of gardening with raised beds, but the Raised Bed Revolution still struck me as being predominantly a ‘How to Build your Raised Bed’ book.


Tara Nolan is a freelance writer and writes gardening articles in Toronta Star and Canadian Living magazine.   A few years ago, along with three members of the Garden Writers Association, Tara co-founded a gardening website at http://www.Savvygardening.com.  If you are a Facebook user you can find her on FB – Facebook.com/raisedbedrevolution. 

In a Vase on Monday – It’s Hot! Hot! Hot!

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Following on from last week’s In a Vase on Monday I have used another mug from the kitchen cupboard.  In the past few posts I’ve found a container and then picked the flowers.  This time I knew I wanted to use the last of the hot flowers in the garden.  Once I had my selection I searched for the best way to display and compliment them and found this cheerful mug at the back of the mug cupboard.
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The crocosmia is almost over but I was able to retrieve a few sprigs with flowers at the top of stems.
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The Calendula is also slowly coming to an end, and sadly it is falling foul of mildew.  Now is the time for the nasturtiums to start taking over the flowerbed and is winding its way around every thing at the moment!

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For a little bit of greenery I have used Cosmos leaves.

Here is my list of my Hot! Hot! Hot! In a Vase on Monday:

  • nasturtiums
  • calendula
  •  crocosmia
  • cosmos leaves

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Thank you Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting this meme, which ensures I do regularly pick flowers from the garden to enjoy indoors.

Parham House and Garden – Glasshouse

At the beginning of July we bought a season ticket for Parham Garden we only have one more visit and it’s paid for itself, then we can continue to visit for free!

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We went again yesterday and having written several blog posts about  Parham I decided to go with a specific theme for this post.

Initially I was going to photograph unusual plants or plants that we may not use in a smaller garden due to their size.   The one above is an Eupatorium  which can grow to almost 7ft, far too big and overpowering for my small garden.

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However, after walking into the glasshouse full to bursting with Pelargoniums, Plectranthus, Begonias and Heliotrope, a virtual bee heaven, I decided to concentrate on this part of the garden.  The temperature inside here was comfortable, and not that sticky humid heat you often meet in a greenhouse.   I did look up if there was any difference between a greenhouse and a glasshouse and apparently the only difference is in the name.

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There was an interesting scent wafting about which, like a bloodhound, made me sniff around to locate where it was coming from.   I honed in eventually to the flower above.  We hunted under the leaves to see if there was a label but with no luck.  Maybe you can name it.image

This interesting, unusual plant is Brilliantasia Owariensis.  We continued in our dig around for the hope that some plants were labelled and luckily this one was.   I Googled it for a bit more information and was puzzled when searching using the full name only Spanish pages came up,  but when changing the search criteria, dropping the Owariensis part, lots of information on Brilliantasia Subulugurica, a plant from Zimbabwe, came up. It certainly was different.

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Another pretty bluish/purple flower is Tibouchina urvilleana from Brazil.  This was the only glasshouse plant we could find for sale in the plant nursery.  That is how we know what it was called.

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There are many fascinating fuchsias, one in particular is the above Fuchsia Boliviana ‘Alba’ from Peru.

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This bright red flower is Begonia Fuchsioides it was such a bright red that the camera on my iPhone, usually great for photos, only managed to produce a slightly blurred pic.

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As I leave the glasshouse, this is a photograph from the other end, with a very pretty salmon pink fuchsia in the foreground.

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I couldn’t resist the temptation to continuing taking photographs after we left the glasshouse.   Rather than stray away from the sole purpose of blogging about the glasshouse, I am ending with just one pic of the garden.   The array of sunflowers was a sight to behold, from little bright yellow ones to the tallest bronze flowers you could hope to see.

OPENING TIMES
Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays and Bank Holidays until the end of September. In October Parham is open on Sundays only.

House | 14:00 – 17:00
Gardens | 12:00 – 17:00
Big Kitchen Restaurant | 12:00 – 17:00
Last Admission | 16:30

Parham Plant & Garden Shop is open to visitors free of charge from 10:30am – 12noon on standard open days (excluding event days) and from 12noon to 5pm for paying Garden visitors.

The next event at Parham is the HARVEST FAIR on 24th and 25th September from 10:30 to 17:00

Live cookery demonstrations, deer walks, gun dog displays, fungi talks, working horse cart rides in the Parkland, falconry displays, Tudor cooking demonstrations and Tudor dancing in the House. Wide array of stalls selling food, drink and country wares.