Sunday, 28 February 2016

The first NGS Garden Visit 2016

Looking through the new NGS Gardens to Visit book, for 2016, the only one open near us today was Court House in Warwickshire.
Despite as our neighbour said "it is a thin wind " we set off to visit with the promise of a winter garden and a cup of tea.

The description in the NGS book is:  "A 4 acre garden with yr-round interest and colour. Extensive and varied spring bulbs, and garden of winter interest. Herbaceous borders, spring beds, fernery, recently redesigned and restored walled kitchen garden. Rose garden, pond area and paddocks established with wild flowers."

The house is in a typical rural cotswold setting with the village church next door...

...the walled kitchen garden was very impressive with its box hedging and two rows of standard wisteria and pear trees, which must look wonderful when in flower...

...the topiary provided elements of classic structure along with some amusing features, such as this fox and hounds. 

These hedges, I thought, were a design triumph, copper beech with yew pillars...

Coppiced willows and dogwoods make a striking feature this time of year...

...especially here around the pool...

...I do like these dark leaved Bergenia...

...the ideal snail!

The winter garden colour came from a selection of trees with beautiful bark...

... coppiced Dogwoods, Willow and Pittosporum, I think Tom Thumb  ...

...all under planted with spring bulbs and different coloured Hellebores.

The orchard with a collection of chickens and fancy fowl...

...and some Herons?

In one corner a bench overlooking some colourful beds...

A raised bed leading down to the terrace. 

Seeking some warmth we entered the greenhouse to find this impressive Cestrum in full flower...

The owners had wisely decided not to provide teas, it was too cold to sit outside!
An impressive well thought out and maintained garden,
 setting a high standard for future NGS garden visits.
Well worth visiting again for their summer openings and tea.

Please click on any picture to create a slide show.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Spring was in the air. (Garden bloggers bloom day February 2016)

Today sees a return of wet, wintery weather here in Worcestershire.
I took some photographs of what was flowering in the garden two days ago when the sun was shinning. 
In the Alpine boxes, by the front door, Ipheion 'Albert Castillo' was in full flower (they are lay flat today).

Alongside are pots of heathers and dwarf pines (harking back to the seventies!)

Also catching the sun is the Sarcococca, Christmas Box, which didn't start flowering here until the end of January, the scent is so powerful, you can smell it every time the front door is open.

In the main borders, Narcissus 'Tete-a-Tete' is flowering,

and the honey bees are visiting the Crocus tommasinianus, you can actually see the pollen on the bees legs.

There are a few yellow crocus in pots, these seem to be getting less each year. (mice?)

Pulmonaria 'Blue Mist' is a welcome sight along side the path. 

Underneath a dogwood there are groups of snowdrops...

...this one looks different from the others?

...They are joined by a solitary N. 'Jumblie'.

The Leucojum aestivum, is one of my favourite flowers at this time of year, I don't know why it is called the Summer Snowflake.

The dark slatey purple hellebores are usually the last to flower, these along with many of our garden plants came with us from our previous garden. They were bought from what was then a very good local nursery as H. orientalis purpurea.

Corydalis cheilanthifolia is new to the garden.  I admired it growing in the wall of a friends garden and was told to help myself, it can apparently be invasive, so I have it in a pot and
 it flowers for months with lovely fern like leaves.

The Kerria japonica 'Pleniflora'  (Batchelor's Buttons) is according to the RHS a mid spring flowering shrub, it has had flowers here for over a month.

Last night I gave a slide presentation to the Gloucestershire Organic Gardening Club, a lovely, welcoming, very active group of gardeners. What was a bonus was the plant stall selling snowdrops, I couldn't resist 'investing' some of my fee in these two beauties...

The large robust Galanthus elwesii

and the lovely dimpled petaled G. plicates 'Augustus'.

I blame Anna at Greentapestry Here for stimulating this addiction.
You have been warned if you visit by clicking the link.
I am also linking to Carol at for garden bloggers bloom day Here where you can see what is blooming in gardens during February around the world.

Please click on any picture to create a slide show.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Tree following February 2016 (Worcester Pearmain).

The tree following meme hosted this year by Pat at 'The Squirrel Basket' is followed by bloggers from around the world. I am joining in again this year by following a Malus domestica 'Worcester Pearmain', growing in our community orchard.

The Worcester Pearmain was developed by a Mr Hale from Swanpool, Worcester. Swan pool is an area in St Johns, Worcester.

It is a tip bearing tree, carrying the fruit on the end of stems rather than spur bearing, this has to be taken into consideration when pruning.

It is partially self fertile bearing heavy crops of sweet, strawberry flavoured fruit with only short keeping quality and it can also be cooked.

I visited the orchard, in October, on fruit picking day and took some photographs.
These pictures, above and below,  are of the Worcester tree and fruit.

The history of the Community Orchard was written by Hanley Swan resident, Val Fare, and is printed on the apple juice labels.  I have copied it here for you:

" In 1982 John and Vera bought a field near their home in Hanley Swan. The previous owner took his horse elsewhere and John and Vera planted strawberries. As they didn't believe in artificial pesticides or fertilisers they lost out to slugs and birds.
So in 1983 they planted an orchard, mainly apples, mainly old varieties such as Ashmeads Kernel, Ribston Pippin, Egremont Russet, Peasegood Nonsuch, Allington Pippin and Kidd’s Orange Red.
The orchard thrived,  the trees grew as did the primroses, violets, ox daises and wild orchids and John and Vera ate or gave away the apples.
In 2002 John died but Vera carried on tending the orchard until 2013 when, in her late 80s, she could neither digest the apples nor scamper up the ladder to pick the huge crop. She could not bear the waste. What was to be done…
Neighbours in Hanley Swan heard of Vera’s dilemma and one sunny morning that October villagers of all ages met to pick her apples, more than half a ton. They were pressed and bottled at Clives Fruit Farm nearby, labelled by volunteers and all sold within six weeks.
At Vera’s instigation we are making her orchard a community orchard, benefitting the whole community in the Hanleys and apple juice lovers everywhere.
The juice from the 2014 crop of our apples also sold out. And our villagers so liked the concept of our orchard that this year, 2015 many of them have donated their apples to make another juice from the little orchards of the Hanleys and their environs. So now we have a sister juice also available.
All profits from both juices go to the upkeep of our community orchard."

The previous day we had picked the apples from 'The Little Orchards'.

I will leave you with some of the pictures taken at Vera's Orchard on picking day.

The Worcester laden with fruit.

The first of many...

I will be visiting the orchard during the year to record and publish the changes throughout the seasons.

To see what trees other bloggers from around the world are following please visit 'The Squirrel basket': Here

Please click on any picture to create a slide show.