The glimmerings of a new project

Not entirely garden-related but there will be some crossover. I have a lot of 35mm slides (and when I say a lot, I mean it). My dad was a very keen photographer and preferred slides to prints – he would have loved digital. I now have a lot of his slides as well as many taken by my mum’s brother-in-law, and a lot of them feature gardens and plants fairly prominently. Both gardening and photography seem to be popular hobbies on both sides of my family.

So I’ve bought a small slide scanner and am making a start. There’s a lot to get through.

To whet your appetites, I’ve got a couple of pictures taken in 1963 in my maternal grandfather’s garden.

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I’m quite pleased that with a fairly inexpensive scanner the results are good, probably due to good equipment in the first place of course. No doubt there will be more to come, but I can’t promise it will be as regular and disciplined as the photo a week project was!

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A Friday trio

Just a few quick snaps taken on the mobile phone – we had a fair bit of rain overnight and into this morning and it shows on some of the plants, with a few things looking a bit weather-beaten, but I had to get photos of these three which are just starting to flower.

My lovely blue Geranium himalayense:

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This is actually on a transplanted bit of the plant – the parent is on one side of the path but when we extended the beds and moved a lot of plants a year ago we also split the plant and put some in the bed on the other side of the path. I’m really pleased it’s taken and is flowering as it’s a stunning plant.

The ever reliable Geum Mrs Bradshaw:

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Hiding away a bit under the sambuca but she’s still going strong. I was a bit concerned last week that she might have fallen victim to over-enthusiastic removal of wild geum but here she is.

And the relative newcomer, Geum Lady Stratheden:

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Bought at the end of the summer for a pound or two from the supermarket. Loving the vibrant yellow – and both she and Mrs Bradshaw are surrounded by lychnis, so if most of that is pink it’s going to be positively psychedelic.

 

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Meanwhile, back in our garden

We had a day of tidying and weeding yesterday, following by a bit of planting. I took some photos at the time but most of them were terrible so I took some more this morning.

In the front garden I trimmed the forsythia and both photinias to let in a bit more light. The peony was starting to look very unhappy, so with a photinia overshadowing it a bit less I’m hoping it’ll do better.

Both gardens got a thorough weeding and once we’d established where we had some gaps, I planted out the herbaceous perennials that I bought last autumn as tiny plug plants. They’d been overwintering in one of the veg trugs but it was time they went in the ground. We’ll see how they do – I’ve never had a lot of luck with coreopsis, never grown echinacea at all and all of my previous scabious seem to have vanished over the winter so fingers crossed that some of these survive!

General photos at the back, taken this morning:

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Heucheras are starting to look ok, though we’re having trouble with some in pots and I’ve sent off for some nematodes to deal with vine weevil.

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L-R: Sugar Frosting, Black Beauty, Ginger Ale

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Paris, coming in to flower

Aquilegias are looking good everywhere.

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The ceanothus at the back is starting to flower – as ever, a few weeks ahead of the one at the front.

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And the little weigela is looking gorgeous.

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At the front, there’s a viburnum pulling out all the stops, and the peony is getting ready to show off.

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A couple of weeks ago (while we were away) we had out birthdays and Mum’s little dog Benji gave me a set of pot feet – a hunter, his dog and a pheasant:

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Rather sweet!

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What we did on our holidays, part 3

After our visit to Kingston Maurward we travelled just a few miles to the very lovely Athelhampton House & Gardens. Again we used our 2-for-1 card – it is a few pounds cheaper if you only want to go round the gardens, but the house is fascinating and it’s a shame not to do both.

The house is a 15th century manor and is still lived in, though it has changed hands a few times.

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And there’s a proper dovecot behind the house.

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The gardens are formal, lots of rooms, water features and topiary, but also lots of recent and ongoing work.

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A statue of Queen Victoria looking at…

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… a bed of double flowered narcissus still hanging on into early May.

The owners have created a Lime Walk, with blue spring flowers in profusion at the base of the trees – which makes me wonder what will be flowering there later in the year.

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The Lime Walk leads to the Canal (on the right as you exit the Walk)

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Beyond which is the Walled Garden – currently something of a work-in-progress.

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Though it does boast a lovely central pool and fountain

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with a laburnum pergola beyond (I do love laburnums).

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To one side is the greenhouse and on both sides are beds of heuchera and tulips.

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Opposite the Walled Garden is the Octagonal Cloister – an octagonal pool surrounded by a walk of young trees.

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Continuing past the Cloister and the Walled Garden, the path leads down to the River Piddle (yes, really) where we found a lovely Monet-like bridge leading to a walk on the opposite bank – sadly the gate at the other end of the bridge was locked so we had to make do with staying on the garden side.

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Some stretches of the river were covered with this plant, which (in another art-related moment) makes me think of Millais’s Ophelia in her brook.

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No idea what it is – the flowers look like poached egg plant (Limnanthes douglasii) but that prefers dry soil, so presumably it’s unrelated!

If you’re in the Dorchester area, do give Athelhampton a look – it’s absolutely charming, and all the staff we encountered were lovely and friendly. It’s definitely worth a few hours of your time.

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A photo a week – week 52

Well, here we are. The grand finale.

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My next task will be to work out how to do a proper retrospective of the year. In the meantime, here’s a quick look through the “quarters”:

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Week 1: 28th May 2017

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week 13: 20th August 2017

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Week 26: 19th Nov 2017

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Week 39: 18th Feb 2018

And for the uninitiated, here’s how it looked on the day we got the keys – back in December 2012:

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I hope you’ve enjoyed the Photo A Week project – now I have to think of another one!

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What we did on our holidays, part 2

On the Bank Holiday Monday we ventured just a few miles from the holiday cottage and visited two gardens – the first was Kingston Maurward, where there’s a college and animal park as well.

There’s a lovely house (though we didn’t go in) and formal gardens laid out in a series of rooms. For the more adventurous there’s a woodland walk and (at a short distance, and fairly well hidden) a walled demonstration garden – we made it round both, you’ll be pleased to hear.

Starting with the formal gardens, we found ourselves in the Red Garden:

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Hedges of copper beech, and beds planted with a pom-pom flowered red bellis perennis and red-leaved berberis. There’s also a pool with red-leaved water lilies, and a path through shrubs up to a little round temple:

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Behind me as I took that photo was a little summerhouse covered in wisteria that was just about to come into flower.

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From the Red Garden a path led us through topiary hedges

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past the end of the croquet lawn

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to a little circular garden (note husband for scale)

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with niches in the hedges containing statues – on permanent loan from the Houses of Parliament.

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Queen Anne

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King Charles II

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King Henry III

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But I’m not convinced this is really Richard III. Sorry.

From the circular garden we approached the house

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along a path flanked by beds of blue and pink forget-me-nots.

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Near the house was an area called the Rainbow Beds but pretty much the only thing flowering was centaurea

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And next to the house was a little walled garden with a pool, and stone urns covered with more wisteria.

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From the house there’s a view down to the lake

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And on the way to the lake we walked through a little Japanese garden surrounded by hedges.

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We could just glimpse the house through the trees.

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There are striking acers

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and moss, and a little stream. But the bright sunshine and deep shadow made it harder to get good photos.

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Getting near to the lake (and dodging the Canada geese) we came upon a little neo-Classical summerhouse (the influence of Capability Brown is strong here, though he didn’t design the garden himself).

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Past the lake, we came to part of the village which we had to cross to get to the walled garden. It took a bit of finding but we managed it.

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If it looks wonky that’s because it’s sloping.

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Told you it was sloping!

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Husband for scale again

It’s a demonstration garden, so there are beds of plants for all sorts of conditions, plus a lovely overgrown greenhouse.

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Beds of perennials

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And here’s a bed of shrubs for acid soil – including a magnolia, and a gorgeous pieris in full flower.

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By the gate a ceanothus was flowering.

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And it was getting a lot of attention from bees.

Leaving the walled garden we made our way to the lake again, to take the woodland walk. We passed an impressively big tree – no idea what it was but it was huge.

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And we got a great view of the house from across the water.

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As well as seeing this:

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“Strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords is no basis for a system of government!”

Also, with it being woodland, there were azaleas, magnolias and of course some bluebells.

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After the woodland walk we caught up with the last bits of formal garden that we hadn’t seen already – the Crown Garden is so called because of the topiary:

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And it was nice to see there are some genuinely wild bits amongst the formality.

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Part 3 still to come – I’d have done both of Monday’s garden visits as one post but I didn’t realise how many photos there were!

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What we did on our holidays, part 1

AKA “Other People’s Gardens” of course!

This year’s holiday involved rather fewer gardens than last year but then last year we got a bit carried away. I did get the 2-for-1 card from Gardeners’ World magazine again and we used that for a couple of places, which came in handy.

The first garden we saw was Mottisfont Abbey, where we stopped for lunch on the journey down to Dorset. We hadn’t been to Mottisfont before but it’s very pretty – a lovely house with the River Test running through the grounds.

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Mottisfont Abbey

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Mottisfont – the house and the River Test

As well as the river, the grounds contain a natural spring (or font) which gives the abbey its name – it’s thought to have been the site of moots, or meetings in the Saxon period. In the Middle Ages the site of a freshwater spring was ideal for the location of an abbey. After the Dissolution, the abbey passed into private hands but parts of the abbey church are still visible within the later house.

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The source of the font

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Quick history lesson!

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In the 19th century the owners built a structure for the spring water to flow along – the font stream is now quite fragile and (though tempting on a hot day) is not for paddling in.

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Glass mosaic fish in the font stream

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And in close-up

We decided to give the longer walk around the grounds and along the river a miss as we didn’t have the whole day. Instead we had a walk (and a sit) in the winter garden before having a turn around the walled garden.

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Winter garden

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Winter garden – magnolia

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Winter garden – I wish my black lilyturf grew that well!

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Winter garden

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Winter garden – the pink in the distance is bergenia

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Winter garden – we spotted this upturned tree stump carved into fins, mimicking the foliage around it

Between the winter garden and the walled garden were some informal areas with wildflowers.

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Part of the walled garden was closed as they were carrying out work, but we liked the bits we could see.

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Walled garden – lots of nice views and topiary

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Walled garden

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Walled garden

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Tulips in the walled garden

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I love a really dark coloured tulip!

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Spotted this lovely structure in a bower covered in climbing roses

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Perfect!

Part 2 will follow soon!

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