Tulips at Dunsborough Park Garden

I think everyone will agree that this has not really been the best year for tulips.   I have read blogs and spoken to gardeners who have all expressed disappointment in their displays this year.  The weather appears to be to blame, a hot few weeks in March followed by a plummet in temperatures and frosty nights turned the poor tulip into turmoil.   There are many that are stunted and gardens who are open to view their displays are having to hold back some tulips for later in the month, so some are still in bloom for visitors.

Tulip "Shirley" Long slender ivory flowers with feathered edges in soft purple

Yesterday, Saturday 21 April, I went with Charlotte, from The Galloping Gardener, to visit The Festival of Tulips at Dunsborough Park, in Ripley, Surrey.   Dunsborough Park is a privately owned house and the garden is open for only a few of days during the year for the NGS and Tulip Festival.

We were both disappointed to be told “No Photography”, we really did want to take photos of the garden and especially the tulips, after all that was one the main reasons we were there.  It was clear, once we were in the garden, people were merrily snapping away.    We introduced ourselves to the owner and were granted permission, which happily made clandestine photography unnecessary.

We were given a map of the tulip bed layout,  but not a map of the garden and had a little difficulty in finding the Dutch Garden, probably because we branched off to the left rather than going straight on.

Our path took us towards the stream and the water garden.   I loved the wrought iron bench and thought what wonderful tranquil moments could be had sitting and contemplating life.

As we wandered around we met up with the happy, smiling, Ukrainian gardener, Olag, and talked to him about the gardens.    He told us that every year he plants over 10,000 bulbs and when the season is over they are all pulled up again.   That is apart from the meadow area where the bulbs are left to naturalize, apparently they last usually for about 3 years before having to be replaced.   He pointed us in the direction of the meadow and as we walked over the bridge I was not expecting such a lovely sight.   A bank of Spring flowers, including beautiful tulips scattered around.

I have not seen tulips in a setting like this before.  Normally, they are planted in colour blocks, neat and tidy, all in a row like soldiers.  Even in our own gardens at home, we tend to plant them in flower beds or in pots.  To see them growing in the grass in a haphazard manner had a totally different and, for me, a more pleasing effect.

The only drawback, if there is one, was there is no way of telling what variety the tulips were.  There is an abundance of glorious oranges and just at the edge of the garden was a very pretty lilac tipped with a pale pink variety.  I liked that one very much so will now  trawl bulb catalogues to find something similar for Spring 2013 in my garden.

We found the the Dutch Garden behind an old Victorian wall.    Here, armed with our planting plans we wandered around the garden noting which tulips we liked, loved, disliked – as you do when looking at plants in any garden.   All the tulips were at different stages, some were over, some still in bud and, of course, ones in full bloom.  Most were planted within Box hedging and grape hyacinths used as a frame.

I took a close up of the bed above, which you can see below, and if you are interested, the tulips closest are called “Pink Impression”,  the next row (not out yet) is “Rosalie” and the pink tulips tipped with white at the far end are “Peach Blossom”.

Through the Ginko hedge there were more tulip beds, this time not enclosed within any Box, but still bordered with grape hyacinths.  It was here that the swing between the heat and the frost damage to the tulips was more evident,  some were considerably shorter than the ones we had just viewed.  I did wonder perhaps if there were some dwarf varieties rather than suffering from stunted growth.

Working from the planting plan, I think I am right in distinguishing the scarlet red double tulip as “Abba” and the ones in the foreground are “Jackpot”.

I am always on the look out for quirky planting and then I saw running along side the Edwardian greenhouses, tulips planted in painted metal containers, looking very rustic.  After the meadow planting, this was my favourite way of seeing the tulips.  Apart from the container in the middle,  none of the others were flowering, so I can only imagine what they looked like in full bloom.

 The next dates the Gardens are open for an NGS Open Day are 19th May, 16th June and 15th September, and if you do visit you must not miss the tearoom!

The Palm House had been turned over to a tearoom and as far as I am concerned no garden visit is complete without a cup of tea and a slice of home made cake, so a visit was a must.   There was a scrumptious array of cakes, pastries and the most devilish looking meringues, all of which were made by the people that work at Dunsborough Park including the owner.  I had a slice of her Victoria Sponge which just melted in my mouth, indeed, even Charlotte who claimed not to be a cake eater, helped herself to some of my cake.

Finally, the two tulips that really took my eye were “Shirley”  – photograph at the top of this post – ideal for a cut flower and photographed below  is “Monsella”, a Double Early, ideal for pots and borders.

The tulips will be over for the NGS dates but there is a lot to see in the Dunsborough Park Garden and it is well worth a visit, but ask first if you can use your camera and don’t miss out on the cake!

Garden Foliage Day : 22 April 2012

Here we are almost at the end of April, and time again to take a look at the foliage in the garden.  This last week of torrential showers, has brought absolutely everything on by leaps and bounds.   It is amazing what a good drenching can do for plants and trees alike.    The one drawback to all this rain is that the grass is growing too and my lawn sounds like a sponge when I stand on it, so mowing it out of the question at the moment.

The Aquilegia are really making their presence known all around the garden, with it’s different coloured leaves according to the variety.  There are a couple of almost lime green plants that really stand out but most are the usual green.

I know I have mentioned this before, but I do appear to have a lot of plants in the garden that start with the letter “A”,  this is not intentional at all, it is only when I started to write about them this dawned on me!   To add to the “A” list the Astilbe have spread themselves in the damp north-facing bed down the right handside of the garden.  They are excellent value, because they love this spot and the dried flowers remain upright in the Winter, giving some archtecural height.   Judging by the amount of leaves that have come through this year there is going to be an excellent show of pink feathery flowers.

The hardy geraniums are filling out and at the moment are still neat mounds.   A lady I work with said she uses old wire hanging baskets, placed upside down on her geraniums and it helps keep them neat and tidy.  At just under £1.50 for small wire baskets from Wilkinsons, this definitely an idea I will try this year.

I need to keep an eye on the Geraniums (Cranesbill) in the bottom bed because they are going to choke the Astrantia if I am not careful.   Just behind the Astrantia, the Agapanthus are looking in good form, having made it through another Winter and at the back of the border is a Ballerina Rose – this is a very pretty rose with hydrangea type flowerheads.   I love the variety of green tones in the bed at the moment.

I have a feeling that this year is going to be a really good one for the Peony in the side bed, it now is so thick with leaves I am having to add extra support.   I am sure it is so very advanced because I covered it through the Winter with a cloche, the peony in the bottom bed is only just now sending up long shoots.  I love the pinkish hue to the leaves and the almost burgundy edging they have.

The Fennel is now about a foot high and will eventually reach about 6 foot, I love how the new leaves look fluffy and soft, like miniature pine trees.

I thought I had lost a number of my lavender bushes but this little one was having none of it, and to prove me wrong is producing lots and lots of new leaves, so I will only have a couple to replace this year.

The Hostas are particularly slow in making an appearance this year but hopefully in May there will be a good show for the next Garden Bloggers Foliage Day.

Thank you Christina from Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides who hosts this monthly meme.   Please hop over to her blog and take a look at lots of foliage posts.  It is always so interesting to see what is happening in gardens all around the World.

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