Category Archives: Gardens

Wordless Wednesday – A Face in “Flowers”

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I Went to Ashwood and…..

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….saw the boss’s garden!

Several times a year, John Massey, the owner of Ashwood nursery, opens his garden for charity. In all the years we have lived here, as well as been ardent visitors to the nursery, we have never been to his open garden. How dreadful! There’s always something else going on – and the last time we planned to visit, it chucked down with rain! But, at last, a couple of weeks ago, we managed it!

We were definitely not disappointed. Talk about an understatement! It was so much more than we had anticipated.

It is a beautiful 3 acre garden, set on the banks of the Staffordshire and Worcestersire canal. It’s a garden full of island beds and sinuous grass paths, under a wonderful selection of mature trees. These beds are burgeoning with the most beautiful collection of choice shrubs, grasses and perennials. As if the mixed planting is not interest enough, the borders are punctuated with incredible statues and features.

We took so many photos, that it would be impossible to show you them all! I’ll just have to try to select a choice few.

With such a predominance of shrubs, I was amazed at the amount of colour there was, and not just from flowers. The foliage played its part too.

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And the bark.

There were the most sumptuous and amazing flowers, such as this paeony.

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The colour combinations were stunning!

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This scented shrub is a new one to me. And I must find out what it is! Any ideas?

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A beautiful pond, complete with waterfall and deck, was backed by a grand rockery.

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I loved the loggia! It had such a Mediterranean feel, so full of scent.

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But, taking a left turning on arrival, will take you to a natural wildlife meadow. They’ve paid particular attention to wildlife, by incorporating features such as log piles, and beehives.

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And a tree that looks like it stepped straight out of the Hobbit!

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What a peaceful, idyllic view of the Staffordshire countryside!

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I’ll leave you with some more shots of the imaginative planting and features.

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If you ever get the chance, take it!

Broadwaters Park – A Weekend Walk

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It’s a park we pass now and then, in Kidderminster, and it always looks so appealing from the adjacent main road, with tantalising glimpses of wonderful planting, skirting a brook. We decided it was high time we took a look.

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It’s an area of 2 hectares, by the, now renovated, 13th century Broadwater Mill, on the banks of Wannerton Brook. The mill has had many identities over its 7 centuries, including that of a flour mill, a fulling mill for the cloth industry, an iron forge and latterly, as a laundry. It was originally a much larger building several stories high, now just a single storey.

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A strange place for a planter!

I would say it’s less of a park – more of a lovely short walk, about a 20 minute gentle stroll by the brook. It’s punctuated by several interesting and quirky wood sculptures. (Did you spot the forge worker, by the mill?)

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A totem pole at the park entrance. It has actually incorporated a carved “ball in a cage” feature – so clever!

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Squirrel Nutkin – What to do with an old tree stump – enhanced by some wonderful mushroom growth.

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And – How to lose a snail!

We also saw a family of carved ducks – oh, and a heron! But he was real! (The camera wasn’t quick enough!)

The main drift of planting, follows the bank of the brook, crossed by several stone bridges, running parallel to the main road.

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It could be a lovely spot for a picnic, but only if you could cope with the constant hum of traffic from the nearby busy main road.

However, at the entrance to the park, there is a lovely, more secluded area, ideal for opening the hamper, with or without the travelling rug! Today, there were no picnickers. I’m afraid it was a damp, drizzly day. There were instead some children playing “Hide and Seek”. What a refreshing scene to witness!

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Here, there was a “nugget” of raised beds, filled with, what appeared to be, sensory planting, full of rustling grasses, now in their prime, and colour, courtesy of bright, yellow rudbeckias and white anemones. Scented herbs, and “touchy-feely” stachys, flowed over the edges, that led you into a small herb parterre.

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Sadly, by the brook,it was a case of “You should have been here last week!” The planting was going over and definitely past its peak, but there was no denying it had been a glorious spectacle.

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This WAS a glorious, golden spectacle, with Rudbeckias, Crocosmias, Acanthus, Achilleas and Solidagos.

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And this WAS a colourful swathe of wild flowers. I could make out the last of the field poppies and cornflowers.

All created and tended by a band of about 60 volunteers – The Friends of Broadwaters. A job well done!

Not one for a day out, unless a picnic is the plan, but definitely a much more pleasant way to walk along a main road!

The Forfar Botanists

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Imagine my surprise, while perusing the September 2013 edition of “The Garden” magazine, that I happened upon a mention of my old home town. Now it’s not a big place – sleepy almost! Nor was I aware of anything of horticultural significance, having happened there. Admittedly, this may have been due to my childhood lack of interest in that field. But now it was of great interest to me!

A new garden was being created on an old patch of land by the Myre – an area of common ground used as football pitches – to commemorate five famous botanists from the town. Between them, they collected plant samples, many new to science, from around the world. They described and catalogued many plants from their own or from other collections, with many plants being named in their honour.

George Don Snr. explored mainly the local areas of Angus and its hills and glens. A moss, Grimmia donniana, was named in his honour, as was the forget-me-not, Myosotis alpina Don. Although he created his own nursery, it appears he wasn’t much of a business man and he died in poverty.
Two of his sons, George Jnr. and David, carried on after his death, although, not literally, following in his footsteps. George travelled through West Africa and South America, while David’s expertise lay in the Himalayas. George returned with orchids and other exotics – Oncidium donianum is named after him – but also introduced types of alliums, witch hazel and Kalmia latifolium. David, however, was not so much a collector, but more of a cataloguer. He had many works published and was librarian of the Linnean Society. And Euphorbia donii bears his name.

James Drummond spent much of his life living and working in Western Australia. Not only has he more than 60 plant species named after him, including Banksia drummondii, he also has a mountain, Mount Drummond, named in his honour. His brother, Thomas, had many travels in North America, his first as a naturalist on the expedition to find the North West passage, and later in the southern states. He had over 80 species named after him, including, probably, most famously, Phlox drummondii, bearing his name, along with an Acer rubrum and an Anemone.

The memorial garden was to convey the local landscapes of the Angus countryside that inspired them, along with plants that they introduced or had named in their honour, as well as plants local to the glens. As trees featured in many of their introductions, but were unable to be located in the garden, a second area, by Forfar loch, was also to be planted in their memory, just a stone’s throw from the garden.

Naturally, this I had to see on my next trip home!

So, earlier this month, when we went back, I went armed with camera, as well as I-pad, intent on a blog post!

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As you can see, it’s not a large garden. It’s beautifully laid out, with raised beds incorporating seating benches. The wall you can see on the left, is a relic from old Forfar, while the other undulating, dry stone wall, has been newly built to recreate the surrounding, undulating Angus hills.

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It is obviously a brand new garden, still in need of filling out (it was only completed Sept 2013) and this is its first year. And at this time of year it was only starting to come to life. There were still plenty of little gems to see, though!

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And interesting layouts!

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At the end of the garden, in the south wall, two spheres have been carved out to represent each family – a spore to signify the Don family, and a seed head for the Drummonds. A nice, unusual touch!

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It was a lovely little garden, and a lovely spot to sit and ponder, though the weather would have to improve dramatically before that would be possible! That day was windy, and bitterly cold. A “wrap up warm” day! However, despite the distances involved, I will be lucky enough to be able to revisit it and see how it matures. There is so much more to come – I’ve seen the plant list! I’ll make it summer next time!

If you’re interested and would like more info, there is a website
http://www.forfarbotanists.org
Do take a look!