Book Review: Secret Gardens of East Angliap

"Go West young man, go West. There is health in the country, and room away from our crowds of idlers and imbeciles." – Josiah Bushell Grimmell

After being enthralled and inspired reading about 22 very different gardens in 4 counties, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, it really is a case of "Go East", a part of our country I rarely visit but am going to rectify.

The foreword is written by Beth Chatto who tells us she "…rarely had enough time to get out and visit other gardens, it is a pity since we can all learn from one another. Learning what to do is important, but learning what not to do is equally important." How true that is!

Barbara Segall, a horticulturalist and garden writer visited each of the 22 gardens and has written about them so beautifully and enticingly it was a hard task to pick out just a few in this review, buying this book really is a must. The photographs taken by the late Marcus Harpur are a delight, he was a brilliant photographer who sadly died on the 6th August but not before he and Barbara were able to celebrate the arrival the first copies of the book in June.

The 22 gardens range from acres and acres of land to a very small town house garden – something for everyone. These are just four I have picked out, mainly because each one is so different in its own right.

Parsonage House, Helions Bumpstead, Essex


Photograph taken by Marcus Harpur

Annie Turner and her husband The Hon. Nigel Turner have lived at Parsonage House since 1990. It is an English country garden with mixed borders and a small kitchen garden. There are 3 acres of garden and then another 3 acres of wild flowers and woodland. A quote from Annie Turner in the book is something we should all try and follow but, if you are like me, you rarely do: "..having the discipline not to do too much too soon has it rewards."


Photographs by Marcus Harpur

Above is an illustration of one of the borders at Parsonage Farm and a selection of the flowers grown there.

Silverstone Farm, North Elmham, Norfolk

Photograph by Marcus Harpur

Silverstone Farm is a very different garden. George Carter was inspired by 17th and early 18th century Dutch and English gardens. His garden is designed with hedges forming rooms, topiary and a fine array of structures around the garden as can be seen in the photograph above.

38 Norfolk Terrace, Cambridge


Photographed by Marcus Harpur

38 Norfolk Terrace is a tiny town house garden and goes to show that you don't need a lot of space to create an enchanting garden. This garden is full of ideas for the use of space with raised beds, low growing shrubs and pots giving shape and height.

Ulting Wick, Ulting, Essex


Photographed by Marcus Harpur

I have to declare a personal interest with Ulting Wick. Although it is a garden I am yet to visit, it has been on my 'must-visit' list for a while. The owner Philippa Burroughs and I follow each other on Twitter and over the last few years I have seen some inviting photographs of her charming garden. Now I have read more about the history it is a MUST visit garden.


Photographs by Marcus Harpur

The tulips at Ulting Wick are a sight to behold, and Philippa told Barbara Segall that no plan is made on paper!

This review really is just a taster of this captivating book and I really recommend it. Some of the other gardens featured are:

COLUMBINE HALL - A moated garden with a series of green rooms
HELMINGHAM HALL GARDENS - A gem of a garden hidden in its own moated island
KIRTLING TOWER - A field of daffodils for a Tudor gatehouse
RAVENINGHAM HALL - Exquisite planting in the RHS president’s private garden
ULTING WICK - Thousands of tulips against a backdrop of black wooden barns
WYKEN HALL - Vines and roses around an Elizabethan Manor House

Just to finish off, I include a further quote from Barbara Segall's introduction – "It's only walking in a garden…you can really appreciate the picture that has been created."


Secret Gardens of East Anglia A Private Tour of 22 Gardens
By Barbara Segall Photography by Marcus Harpur
Published by Frances Lincoln on 7th September 2017

Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day

When the Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day post by My Hesperides Garden popped up on my WordPress Reader, Christina’s opening words “…I encourage you to look at the foliage in your garden and give it the appreciation it deserves”, encouraged me to go out in the garden this afternoon and take a look.   It is all too easy to miss what is under your nose.

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I have had a battle growing Alstroemeria in my garden, thanks to the snails and slugs, so during the summer I dug up a clump and put it in a pot.  Despite the frost and snow it is looking good, which I am delighted with.

dsc_0120Although I have a large Choysia outside my kitchen door it was only this afternoon that I saw it was in flower!

Now I find  Agapanthus an interesting plant.  I have both deciduous and evergreen varieties.  The deciduous ones are beginning to poke their shoots through, the frosted ground doesn’t appear to deter them.   The evergreen Agapanthus in the open south facing floor bed has some of its bottom leaves going mushy but I know from experience it will pick up once it starts to get warmer.   The ones in the bed next the house, where it is sheltered, are looking very happy.

I am not usually one for plant collections but I am always drawn to Heuchera at plant fairs and am seriously contemplating in buying a few more this year.  I like their names and have ‘Marmalade’ and ‘Berry Smoothie’ on my list.  Annoyingly I have lost the name tags for the ones above.

The ferns in the shady part of the garden haven’t died back this year so no photos of those triffid-like fronds uncurling, although I expect if I were to cut them back I would be treated to some.

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Moving around to the more sheltered south facing side patio, the Pieris is covered with small cream bell-shaped flowers in large branched clusters that are supposed to appear in the spring but have been on the plant all winter.

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Another good foliage plant that I always forget to use it the Olive.  This little tree I bought from the local market last year for £10, a plant of similar size was on sale in M&S for £25 – bargain!

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Finally, I couldn’t leave this post without a lovely  Polyanthus.  I have a number of them in the new flowerbed and regardless of the frost and below zero temperatures they survive undaunted.  I do have some true Primroses, they have slightly larger and longer leaves which have gone floppy in the cold and the flowers are yet to appear.

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Walking around the garden, however, I had the feeling that spring is definitely in the air.  In case you are wondering the chicken wire is to deter cats, squirrels and foxes from digging up the bulbs.

RHS Wisley in a Brown Winter Coat

It’s been quite some time since I made a visit to RHS Wisley, so when my friend suggest we went to Wisley on Sunday I was more than happy.  The weather, however, was not on our side and it was drear and dank with that horrible drizzle which is quite wetting.  I have been using my iPhone for taking photos so I decided to give my Nikon DSLR an airing.

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After re-fuelling with coffee and shortbread we started in the the Winter Walk  which starts at the Food Hall and takes you pass beds of Hellebores and Witch Hazel (Hamamelis × intermedia ‘Robert’, ‘Jelena’, ‘Sunburst’, ‘Aphrodite’ (below) and ‘Barmstedt Gold’).

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Someone said that at the moment the witch hazel looked as though someone has been busy with the marmalade and I had never thought that before but now that’s all I see!

dsc_0071 As I have already mentioned it was a dismal day so the photos are indicative of the low light levels.   We went pass the lake with the impressive different flaming colours of the Cornus (dogwood) and Salix (willow).

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We called into the magnificent glasshouse, as did most people, wanting to get out of the rain.  Wisley was definitely wearing a brown winter overcoat with the pillars of brown leaved beech standing tall through the grasses. .

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The minute we entered the glasshouse, frustratingly, my camera lens misted up so I had to resort to my iPhone.  Going into the butterfly section was like entering a children’s playground and a buggy show, it was packed (no exaggeration) with double buggies and a fair share of crying children!

It is still too early in the year for most of the butterflies but there were a lot of the beautiful Blue Morpho.  Most were feeding with their wings closed so capturing their open wings showing why they are called blue, was not that easy.

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The Glasshouse Border, based on an original concept by the Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf, was also an abundance of brown, looking even darker because of the wet day.  Lots of structure was there still, and I expect a return in February will see it all cut down.

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This was the view from the rock garden, again lots of brown, but we could see tiny green shoots of bulbs coming through  – signs of Spring.

We paid a visit to the Alpine House and were a bit bewildered by the array of narcissus all looking the same but actually different varieties. The only difference we could see was a slight variance in shade.

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RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, is open all year except Christmas Day an.d is free for RHS members.

Monday – Friday 10am-4.30pm Sat – Sun & Bank Hols 9am-4.30pm

The Butterflies in the Glasshouse event – starts 14 January.

 

 

A Tulip Conundrum

Although I have been gardening for many years, for some inexplicable reason it was only last year I decided to have tulips in pots on my patio.  I only had a couple of pots in 2015 and was so delighted with them, I went tulip bulb crazy last autumn and had a bit of a spending spree.

Now here are a few salutary lessons I have learned:-

  1. label the pots as you go, not once all 6 are planted up, especially if your memory is not that good;
  2. double check you have written the correct names on the label, and put them in the correct pots;
  3. make sure you have used an indelible, waterproof pen, if the name washes off it’s a long time between planting in October to flowering in April;
  4. keep the bags your bulbs came in, they are useful and sometimes a necessary reference to use.

Some of you reading this may well be tutting and thinking the points above are elementary.  However, points 1-3 will give you an idea of the problems I am coming across now and thankfully I did keep the bulb bags (point 4).  At least I can see what bulbs I bought and match them to the photos.

There are a few pots that have left me scratching my head.  I have some tulips that are not supposed to be where they are, not that it matters too much, it’s a pleasant surprise what does appear, even though not as planned and some pots I have no idea what the tulips are.

My first surprise are the David Dolmoney bulbs, purchased through Waitrose Garden on-line.

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This box contained Ronaldo, described as a deep burgundy and Grand Perfection, described as a red and white ripple tulip.  Even the box shows Grand Perfection as a creamy colour with a burgundy stripe.

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Great Perfection
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Ronaldo
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Great Perfection and Ronaldo tulips 2016
You will see immediately from the photos above, that I have yellow and red striped tulips. It was only when I took to Google to check out Great Perfection, I saw that the majority of them are yellow and red, although there were a few photos of cream and burgundy striped tulips, which I found a bit confusing to say the least.  All said and done, I am pleased with the outcome despite not what I was expected.
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Sweetheart and Angelique with white Anemones
Above is anomaly #2.    In this pot I planted Sweetheart, Princess Irene and Menton, together with white anemones as under planting.   What has come up are the very pretty lemon and white Sweetheart, and surprise surprise, pink Angelique!  Whilst I am more than happy to see them, and the combination of the yellow and pink is beautiful, I am wondering where the Princess Irene have got to.  The peach coloured Menton, being a late tulip, are yet to make an appearance.

Sweetheart
Sweetheart
Angelique
Angelique
Pot 3 has the labels, Havran and Golden Artist.   The Havran are coming out slowly with, fingers crossed, Golden Artist, a ruffled golden-orange with green and hints of sunset-pink about to appear soon.

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Havran
In hindsight I am not sure if the mix of Havran and Golden Artist will look aesthetically ok and I’m beginning to wonder if I should have put Black Parrot with the Havran.  I will make a decision for next years planting when Golden Artist is out, the contrast may look good.

Black Parrot
Black Parrot
The Black Parrot are planted with Blue Parrot which are yet to make an appearance.

Now, below is anomaly #3 – the tulips I thought were Red Impression, although I couldn’t see the black base to the flower which it’s suppose to have, are in fact  Seadov.  I know this now because this afternoon I found a white label tucked very deep into the pot with Seadov written very faintly.  This means the other unlabeled pot is Red Impression.

Seadov
Seadov
Here is the biggest anomaly of them all!  If the pot next to the Seadov are Red Impression, how come I have a tulip that looks very like it could be China Town or Groenland, as suggested by Harriet Ryecroft on Twitter after I posted a photo and asked for assistance.  Considering the number of gardeners I follow on Twitter, I was disappointed that only two people came up with possibilities.   It is definitely a Veridiflora but doesn’t really look like either of the two suggestions – what do you think?  I didn’t buy either of these tulips, but although it doesn’t fit my criteria of what a tulip should be, I quite like it, I think.

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It could, of course, be a rogue bulb and Red Impression is just waiting to burst into colour.  I do hope so, I was really looking forward to a pot of striking red lipstick coloured tulips.

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Finally, there are a couple of pretty pink tulips flowering in the raised bed.  I do recall having a few bulbs left over and scattering them in this bed, but these don’t match any labels, so a spot of head scratching again.

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Gardening, like life is a funny old thing and unpredictable, but exciting.

Parham Gardens at the Height of Summer

I have been to Parham Gardens near Storrington in West Sussex, four times, each one has been different experience.   My first visit, quite a few years ago,  was at the end of the Summer and the garden was looking overgrown and well past its prime.  To be honest I came away slightly disappointed.   The next two visits were this time of the year when Parham hold their Garden Weekend Event, always well attended and heaving with people.

On 8 July 2012, was my first time at this event and it rained!   That afternoon, I wrote my post “Sunshine and Showers at Parham’s Garden Weekend“.    I commented at the time how lush the borders were looking, which was  not surprising due to the amount of rain.

My next visit to the Garden Weekend was last year, July 2013.  A very hot day, with lots of people and unfortunately a day, being in the throes of receiving chemotherapy, I didn’t really enjoy and was not feeling on top of the world.

Yesterday was my friend’s birthday and when I asked him where he would like to go as a day out he said he would like to visit Parham.   Bearing in mind it had been forecasted as the hottest day of the year with possible temperatures of 30C we headed off armed with sunblock and sun hats.

It was lovely to arrive without lots of other people there.  It gave us the necessary time to wander around the garden at our leisure.   The large flowerbed in the entrance was striking with its dark and rich colour scheme, bordered with Chard with brightly coloured red stems, in the middle are Dahlias – Bishop of  Llandaff , Cannas and tall spires of Red Lobelia.

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I apologise to  readers and Parham for the poor quality photographs.  I decided to leave my Nikon DSLR at home, instead taking my small Fuji, not renowned for excellent clarity.   Coupled with the knowledge that no-one should take photographs in the middle of the day when the light is exceptionally bright, means that I am unable to give Parham justice for the wonderful colour that met us down every path and at every turn of the garden.

Tom Brown, the Head Gardener at Parham since 2010, has produced a garden that is spectacular and abundant.   The colour matching in the Walled Garden, of hot colours down one path and pinks down another gives great inspiration.  It was good to hear the whole garden humming with bees and busy butterflies.

The entrance into the Walled Garden.
The entrance into the Walled Garden.
The entrance path packed full of warm colours.
The entrance path packed full of warm colours.
The hot border in the Walled Garden
The hot border in the Walled Garden

The hot border was packed full of plants such as bright orange Coreopsis, Pink Echinacea,  Achillea, red Sedum, Rudbeckia and Kniphofia, all creating a blaze of colour.

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This is in contrast to the cooler pink and purple border, which was just as attractive to the wildlife.  I took pics of deep maroon, almost black,  Scabious and an interesting late flowering dark red drumstick Allium which appeared in many parts of the garden but they are not of good enough quality to reproduce on the blog.  Take it from me they were wonderful.

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Parham Garden is a series of rooms which always appeals to me.  I love to wander around a garden when each turn presents you with something new.  It was impossible in the heat to walk past the Herb Garden, the spicy perfumes just wafted around to invite you in.

Herb garden

The next room was the Rose Garden.   Clearly, this would have been splendid a month or so earlier, there were few roses left, and an abundance of Nepeta.  There was one rose that continued to flower and sadly not being a rose expert I am unable to give it a name, but it was so pretty.  Can someone name it for me please?  UPDATE:  This rose is called Queen of Sweden 

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The Rose Garden
The Rose Garden

Unlike many Cutting Gardens, where all the flowers are in straight rows,  Parham have redesigned this part of the garden with meandering paths to enable the visitor to wander through the flowers.

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I was particularly taken with the fabulous Sweet Pea “Wigwam” which you could walk into and be surrounded with the heady perfume of very impressive Sweet Peas which made me very envious!   The stems were long, thick and strong, totally the opposite to my weedy short thin stemmed blooms.  UPDATE:  Parham inform me that these beautiful Sweet Peas are John Gray, Charlie’s Angels, Kippen Cream and April in Paris.

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At this point, my camera decided it was not going to take any more photos, advising me the memory card was full!  How silly of me to only have put in a 258Mb card, but there you go these things happen.  It does mean that I can’t show you the vegetable garden, where each bed is bordered with box hedging, or the Pleasure Gardens with Veronica’s Maze and the lake.   There is also a well stocked Plant Sale area with healthy and well priced plants.  However, you will be able to see these for yourself  when you visit.

Parham Gardens and House is open from 12 – 5:30 pm every Sunday & Bank Holiday Monday in April and October, and from May to September on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Bank Holidays.  Also it is free to RHS members, which is a bonus.

Friday Flowers : 21 March 2014

The Forsythia at the bottom of the garden is coming into bloom and taking on a cheerful Spring-like yellow hue.    It is just right to add to a vase with daffodils and narcissus.   The tiny Tete-a-Tete daffodils are over now but the double Narcissus “Abba”, which I think look like poached eggs, have beaten the snails ( a few are eaten) and smell absolutely wonderful.

I bought a “variety” bag of daffodil bulbs to plant for this Spring,  so I have no idea what the ones that have come up are called but they are looking very pretty and provided a great selection of daffs.  There is a small delicate one with yellow outer petals and an orange trumpet which I was hesitant to cut but decided to add it to the spring floral display.   I always have this dilemma, to cut or not to cut, whilst it’s great to see the yellow happy daffodils nodding their heads in the flower beds, it is also nice to have them indoors where I can see them.

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As I type this, listening to Gardeners Question Time on the radio, the sun is streaming into the lounge and the warmth is bringing out the heady perfume of the Narcissus “Abba” – it is glorious!

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As soon as I have posted this I am off out into the garden again, there is a lot to do.  Very cold nights are forecast so  I am going to cover newly burgeoning plants with cloches.   The warmth of the sun brought everything on and it would be awful to lose them  now.

Happy Flower Friday!

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