Garden blogging, Garden Visits

Waterperry Gardens, nr Oxford

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Garden blogging, Garden Visits

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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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.


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


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.

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.

Garden blogging

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.


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.


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.

Garden blogging

The First Garden on my Trug List: Great Dixter

One of the upsides (if there are any) of being diagnosed with cancer is not only does it makes you very aware of your own mortality, you realise all those places you want to visit and things you want to do should not be put off. I have every intention of beating this beast, that I have named ‘Eric’, and I am going to get on with my life and no longer be dilatory in just thinking about places to see, but put plans into action.

Great Dixter near Rye in East Sussex, is a famous garden about an 1 hour 30 minute drive, and the home of gardener and gardening writer Christopher Lloyd (1921-2006). Although I have lived in West Sussex for 12 years this is a garden I have always meant to visit but never got around to it. So imagine my emotions when my blogger friend Charlotte “The Galloping Gardener” took me out yesterday for a surprise day out, and we arrived at Great Dixter.

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We were not only blessed with a beautiful warm and sunny day, the garden was not packed with people so we had plenty of time to wander around and take photos at our leisure.

Although only a week off the month of May, everything has been behind this year due to the cold winter weather being very slow to shift. This last week or two has shown a great improvement and plants are beginning to get a wriggle on, and it was interesting to see the growth in parts of the garden that are clearly bathed in sunshine for a longer period than other parts.

As I entered the garden, there is an area of Meadow, which is full of daffodils and snakeshead Fritillaria in burgundy, white and mixture of both. I planted some of these in my lawn but sadly none have appeared this year.

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The Sunk Garden, which apparently in the Summer is packed full of plants, had little to show at the moment so I didn’t take a photos of this part of the garden, but walking through into the Walled Garden we were met with an abundance of coloured Spring bulbs in pots. The warmth of the sun brought out the perfume of the hyacinths which was quite heady as it hit you on entering. The orange tulips in the photo below were in the High Garden but I added them to this montage to make a Spring bulb photo.

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There were some wonderfully coloured Spring plants, and the deep wine coloured Hellebores caught my eye. So often you see them in pale tones so to find them so dark inspired me to try to look for that colour to put in my garden for next Spring.

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Walking through the Walled Garden, we headed towards the Long Border. To the right of the path is The Long Moat, and again was full of Fritillaria with a beautiful little Magnolia Stellata, the first of many magnolias in the garden which are looking magnificent, more of them later.

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The Long Border was packed with tulips and other Spring bulbs. It was interesting to see that there were a lot of tulips not yet open, but several varieties are almost over, to get a show of tulips all open at the same time is clearly not easy. In the Summer this border is packed with herbaceous plants, the guide book tells me that this border is usually at its best from mid-June to mid-August. I seem to have the same gardening ethos as did Christopher Lloyd who believed that there should be no gaps in a flowerbed so that bare earth can be seen, I felt in good company!

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Whilst the very large magnolia at the top of the steps in the photo above was disappointingly still in bud.

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It was on entering the Orchard we were met with the most spectacular sight of Magnolia trees.

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There was also a very delicate, pretty pink Camellia, which has been untouched by the cold so not marred with damaged and brown petals.

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The paths around Great Dixter take you on a circuit of the garden so that nothing can be missed, there are parts of the garden I have not included in this post. The Exotic Garden, for instance, was still wrapped up and one to see on my next visit, but I can’t leave this garden without mentioning the Yew topiary in several parts of the garden.

DSC_0614 (1024x683)Having decided that a Bucket List has connotations of “Things to do before you die”, Charlotte and I are compiling a Trug List of gardens to visit over the next few years and Great Dixter is at the top of the list to return to this Summer. These are just a few on our ever increasing list:

Sissinghurst – I have been there on several occasions but not for many a year.

Hidcote Manor and Kiftsgate Court Gardens – this will be an away-break trip.

The Beth Chatto Gardens – another garden I have never been to.

So lots of places to be visited, written about and photographed in the years to come.

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© 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.

Garden blogging, Garden visiting

Open Gardens Weekend, Henfield, West Sussex

There are different types of gardens we can visit, those belonging to friends and family, gardens opened on occasions through the National Garden Scheme, National Trust Gardens and then we have small private gardens opened perhaps only once a year for events such as the Henfield Gardens and Arts Weekend.

I first visited the Henfield Gardens about 3 years ago and was impressed, leaving with some great ideas. These are ordinary gardens, not huge, some are really very small, but are all proudly shown off to the public.

Having waxed lyrical about the Henfield Gardens , I persuaded a friend to come with me last Sunday. We didn’t visit all 32 gardens and some were only opened on the Saturday. It is always a problem when reality doesn’t match up with expectation. Maybe we were unlucky, but in general the majority of the gardens we did visit, I found disappointing. Most were full of tables and chairs and people eating, I began to wonder if it was an open gardens or a food event. When I visit a garden, I want to be able to wander around spying out new plants and different planting ideas, not negotiate the eating public. One garden was impossible to walk around, with people sitting on the ground, in picnic fashion, eating barbecued burgers, so we departed quickly. Were they there for the food or were they actually interested in viewing gardens?

Having said that, there were a few that were worth spending a little time in and I came away with a short list of “Must Have” plants such as:



The last garden was a happy find. The small garden was on three sides of the bungalow and it was clearly a gardener’s garden. The owner had found room for a vegetable garden, a wildlife pond with decking and bridge, and lovely planting on the south facing side. This was the first year she had opened her garden and was clearly taken aback by the praise she had received from visitors, and it was well deserved.
A final mention must be made to Red Oaks Care Home. Entering the Home at the side of the expanse of lawn we were met by a row of greenhouses. It was an unusual and interesting sight, this was going to be a garden tended with love. The flowerbeds were striking, especially the one full of foxgloves and the brightest of poppies.
The other borders were packed with orange Geums and Salvia Jamensis “Hot Lips” – another plant that will go on my “Must Have” list.
Red Oaks used to be a care home run by the Gardeners’ Royal Benevolent Society, and I thought how lovely it was to continue your love of gardening once you have moved into a care home and felt happy for the residents living there.
© 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
Garden visiting, National Trust Gardens

An absolute delight: West Green House, Hartley Wintney

I visited two gardens on Saturday,  Dunsborough Park, which I have already written about and a dream of a garden at West Green House, near Hartley Wintney in Hampshire.

You will find West Green House in the National Trust handbook, but it is an oddity, it is not owned by the NT.  When they decided to sell the house and garden in 1993, it was bought by Marylyn Abbott –  a lady with a passion for gardens, gardening and garden design.  She has made the historic walled garden what it is today and although it is privately owned it is open to National Trust members from 7 April until 30 September 2012 on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between 11am – 4.30pm.

This is a garden that I had never heard of before last week and what a delight it was.   The garden is entered via The Dragon Garden, and both sides of the path were packed with peonies.  I can imagine that in the Summer when they are in full bloom, against the red garden ornaments and bench,  these two beds are sight to behold.

Beyond the Dragon Garden you come to the Lake Field with fields around a lake which, at the moment, are a mass of Fritillaria, daffodils, with bluebells just coming through.   I see Fritillaria everywhere in Spring and always tell myself  buy the bulbs for my garden, but never do, this year I will.

As we walked around the path of the lake, there is a smaller pond bordered with wonderful display of Forget-me-nots and Pulmonaria – the bees were having a wonderful time.

This was my kind of garden  to enjoy, full of different areas of interest.    The next part of the garden is split into two sections,  one  for herbaceous plants, although there is nothing much to see at the moment and the other is a potager with an Oliver Ford fruit cage in the middle.   There were tulips and Spring flowers scattered about  and I suspect this part of the garden is going to look glorious and colourful in the Summer.

I took the photo above from the top of steps that have water flowing down either side,  these led up from a circle in the wall, which I understand is called a  Victorian moon gate – a great photo spot.  The photos below were taken either side of the wall and if you look carefully you will see the water edging the steps.

There is a lot to see and it was great just to wander around, coming across something new and different at each turn.    What I was not expecting to see were fountains and waterways on raised ground which is called The Paradise Garden.  I am still not sure what I feel about this, I liked it, but not certain of its place in this garden.

Having said that, Marylyn Abbott is a garden designer and that is the beauty of West Green Garden, her use of imagination throughout the garden is evident.    This can also be seen in the Alice Garden below with a variety of clipped topiary shapes around the borders.   Red is a colour that you can’t miss and it certainly stood out here, there is also a seating area with tables and chairs painted red – all very Alice in Wonderland all it needed was a pack of large cards.

I particularly liked the Walled Garden below and, again, this is going  to be one to revisit in another few months.   The clematis supports placed around the garden were an indication that this is going to be a part of garden crammed full of colour and plants.   The hues are gentle and pleasing to the eye at the moment and after the red of Alice’s Garden, I hope when I come back  here it remains gentle.

I am told that there is also an abundance of Alliums which are a sight to behold when they are all out , although at the moment, this is where most of the tulips are to be found.

West Green House Garden is a gem and if you have the opportunity to visit, please do go.  I will certainly visit again, because it has whet my appetite to discover what colours and plantings await me in other seasons.

Before I leave you I have to share what I can only describe as “Garden Art”.   I came across them hanging on the wall in the Orangery, I suppose like any art you either love it or loathe it, but I thought they were great, probably because I like quirky things.   I looked around for some idea of who made them but there was nothing, which was a shame.

The other love  Marylyn Abbott has is opera and West Green House with its purpose built auditorium must be a splendid backdrop with its lit garden at night.  Dinner and opera on a Summer’s evening in a beautiful garden, what a wonderful combination.