Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Lupinus ‘Hidcote’

This was bred specifically for use in the Rose Walk at Hidcote by a local breeder named Maurice. Lupins are not my entirely my favourite, but the bees go off their onion for them so they are undoubtedly worth planting!

The Rose Walk (surprise!) contains roses, but it is planted in such a way as to be the exact opposite to your traditional Victorian rose garden. Here opting instead for a ‘cottage garden’ approach, encompassing a broad plant list that provides a rich jungle of colour and texture, backed up by a strong supporting cast of self-seeders that flit around the place from year to year and delight with their seemingly random appearance! This area was the last created by Johnston and was done so at the suggestion of his friend Norah Lindsay. Lots of interesting roses are just coming into bloom and I will try and pick out the best of the bunch for perusal here!

Rose Walk view

Monday, 30 May 2011

Eremurus robustus

The resplendent blades of the Foxtail Lily, flowering now in the Old Garden. The bulb of an Eremurus is a disturbing sight, and resembles perhaps a monster from the deep!

Man overboard!

Libertia grandiflora

Seen here flowering in East Court. This is quite an architectural plant that also offers up these delicate white blooms!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Ranunculus repens

Bee Garden

Holly Blue butterfly tucking in

One of my projects this year is to turn the area in front of the bee hives into a wild garden, providing board and lodging to our insect friends and their various associates! The existing herbage is predominantly grasses, clover, docks and Creeping Buttercup (the great plants), who are all going great guns on the heavy, fertile soil which is of course precisely the type of site one should avoid when attempting to develop a wild flower meadow. The Creeping Buttercup was until a week ago my sworn enemy, as it lives up to its name and sneaks around all over the shop no sooner than you turn your back on it. However, now the bally thing has come into flower, looks incredible, and my bees, the treacherous swines, are swooning all over it!

Cornflower plug

One tactic I have been employing to battle with this tricky site is growing wildflowers in plug trays, sowing one or two seeds direct into the module, and then growing the plants on until they have a decent enough root developed for planting. This then gives them at least a sporting chance, and ensures they aren’t immediately swamped by thugs like the blasted Creeping Buttercup! Cornflower seen above is particularly suitable for this method, as the large seeds are easy to sow in a single module and grow on to plug size without the need for potting on. This saves time and compost!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Modern art

An artist, Michael Dillon, recently completed a mural in the Italian Shelter. This chap is a dab hand with the old brush strokes, and has done a sterling job of re-interpreting a now faded mural, painted by Lawrence Johnston sometime in the 1930’s. The fragments of Lawrence’s handiwork remain intact, this painting is on canvas boards erected to cover and protect the old wall.

Asphodeline lutea

The imperious spikes of King’s Spear, seen flowering on the Rock Bank.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Big Butterfly Count

Butterfly Conservation has announced that this year’s Big Butterfly Count will take place over two weeks from 16th July. A worthy campaign, and also an excellent excuse to be caught outside gaping open-mouthed at the utter beauty fluttering past on the breeze!

Triteleia ixioides ‘Starlight’

Seen flowering on the Rock Bank.


BBC Four will soon be broadcasting a one-hour documentary about Hidcote as part of the channels botany season! It was filmed by Keo Films, the same coves who put together the Sissinghurst program, and should hopefully feature some incredible footage of the garden in all its glory! Nobody at the garden has seen it yet, but I do know they were using high definition cameras and captured the Heaven’s Gate sunset I posted recently, plus they journeyed over to France to gather some footage of Serre de la Madone, the other garden Lawrence Johnston created. The program will be broadcast on Wednesday 8th June at 9pm!

Sir Roy Strong being filmed by the Keo crew

P.S. Hidcote has been nominated in the Countryfile Magazine awards! There are some marvellous gardens also with their name in the hat, so there’s a definite chance we could be beaten like a gong. If you’d like to have a crack at voting please do so here.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Tulipa sprengeri

Every so often in the garden a plant comes into flower that almost every visitor wants to know the name of. Right now, that plant is Tulipa sprengeri! Seen here flowering on the Winter Border. This wonderful specimen is the last of the tulips to flower, and unfortunately its appearance sounds the death knell for our cheerful spring friends. Although, the tulips have had a great innings this year, and what a high to end on with this joyous flush of scarlet!

Archive: Italian Shelter

Here’s one from the Hidcote archives of the Italian Shelter in 1948, taken as part of a colour collection for Conde Nast. The Italian Shelter is positioned just off the Bathing Pool, and is a pleasant spot to sit with the sound of the cherub fountain trickling away in the background. The delightful climber trailing the hedge alongside the Bathing Pool is Tropaeolum speciosum, a wonderful piece of herbage that Johnston worked hard to establish around the garden! This plant, although vigorous once established, is rather difficult to propagate with the seeds taking up to a year to germinate.

Oink oink


Excitement ahoy, as this season’s pigs are due to arrive at the garden soon! Last year we purchased two Berkshire pigs from a local breeder, to help clear a plot on the Kitchen Garden that previously contained a pear orchard. Norah & Nancy did an incredible job of clearing (and fertilising along the way!), before being relocated to the restaurant menu. Two more little piggies will feature this year before the plot is once again cultivated with kitchen garden crops next year!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Ness Botanic Garden

One of the highlights of being at college is the garden visits, when each Thursday of the fortnight we’re there; we cast off in the old minibus in search of garden glory and inevitably, a decent slice of cake! During the last college block we visited Ness Botanic Gardens in Cheshire, overlooking the Dee Estuary. The garden started out as the home of a chap called Arthur Bulley, who went on to launch the career of plant collector George Forrest and through his company Bees Ltd, was the first to sell seeds to the masses with his ‘penny packets’. The garden is now run by the University of Liverpool and is a really rather charming place to while away a few hours. The plant collection is magnificent!

Poncirus trifolata

Phuopsis stylosa, giving off a delightfully unusual scent

These greedy devils are using both Wisteria and Laburnum in their arched walk

The startling blue of Meconopsis grandis

A honey bee, pondering

Cornus kousa

A young bumblebee in the clutches of Cercis silliquastrum
Like a shoal of tropical fish!

Bathing Pool

This area of the garden was laid out by Lawrence Johnston in around 1912. A cheeky cherub shoots water into the pool, overlooked by the chunky topiary birds on the steps to the Fuchsia Garden. Back in the day, Lawrence and his friends would have bathed and made merry here, today it plays host to dragonflies, two species of newt, water boatmen and hundreds of tadpoles!

Looking back the other way

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Pillar Garden

Flowering now, a jolly splendid combination of Paeonia ‘Mutabilis Plena’ & Allium giganteum.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Aquilegia chrysantha ‘Yellow Queen’

Seen flowering in Mrs. Winthrop's Garden, just off the Long Walk.
Back to the old grindstone today, the excitement of college all done with for now! Worryingly, in only four weeks time we return to sit our RHS exams. Panic stations!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Garden visits

During a college block in early-autumn last year we visited Powis Castle, an incredible National Trust garden near Welshpool in Wales. The garden spreads itself over these magnificent Baroque terraces, with gigantic cloud-effect yew hedges towering far above that almost appear to be growing out of the castle. It's a truly unique place and I look forward to returning there this year! Also this year I hope to visit Hanham Court, a garden near to Bristol that looked rather special in an article I recently read. Packwood House is also on the must-see list, a garden comparatively nearby to Hidcote. Here's to garden touring on glorious summer afternoons!

Powis Castle

These urns decorate the upper terraces

Osteospermum ‘Whirligig’

Huge old boy that was struck by lightning

Monday, 9 May 2011

Wisteria floribunda 'Macrobotrys'

This creaky old-goat flowers over the tool sheds in the Gardener's Yard, filling the entire area with its delightful scent! It has a vast trunk, and is clearly well over a hundred years old.  A hive of wild bees nest in the roof of the tool shed, and happily appear to be doing very well again this year!

Red Border

Spring view of the Red Border, looking towards the pleached Hornbeam hedges of the Stilt Garden.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Lysichiton americanus

The unusual Skunk Cabbage, seen flowering here in the Stream garden.

Wollerton Old Hall

Last weekend I paid a second visit to a bit of a hidden-gem, Wollerton Old Hall, near Market Drayton in Shropshire. This is a relatively new garden, dating from the 1980's. Nevertheless the owners have completely captured the joy and romance of an old-fashioned flower garden in the style of Hidcote and Sissinghurst. It is beautifully laid out, with lots of nooks & crannies to explore, and every available surface is clothed with wonderful plants and climbers! They have a huge collection of Salvias here (something like 80) but of course they weren't in flower just yet. The bells & whistles brigade have yet to take over here, so it feels like you are actually visiting a garden and not the commercial outpost of some vast empire. All of the modern elements that you might expect are here, but the tea room is splendid with a broad selection of reasonably priced nosh, and a terrific plant sales offers all sorts of goodies at fair prices (£4 Uvularia grandiflora).
The garden is, like Hidcote, a bit out of the way to get to but undoubtedly is worth making the effort to visit!

Formal area at the garden entrance
View into Yew Walk

View into Lime Alee

Lime Alee

Sundial Garden

View into Long Walk

Long Walk

Long Walk into Croft Garden

Well Garden

Well Garden bench

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...