Category Archives: I went to Ashwood and…

I Went to Ashwood and…..


….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.


And the bark.

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


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?


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



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


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.


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


What a peaceful, idyllic view of the Staffordshire countryside!


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




If you ever get the chance, take it!

I went to Ashwood and…


….took some photos!

Today is Hellebore day at Ashwood Nursery, when you can view all their hellebores and have a tour of the nurseries. And, no, I have not joined in. Today is also a Six Nations day (and Valentine’s Day, but that is by the by!) and I don’t think Mr. Chef would deem hellebores a suitable substitute for 30 men chasing an egg shaped ball around a pitch. To be fair, I would think twice, so I had my cake and ate it yesterday instead! I had a sneak preview!

On a cold, wet miserable day, it was the perfect antidote. In the main glasshouse at the nursery, is a huge display dedicated to Winter in Bloom, and is the main display area for their Ashwood hybrid hellebores, along with lots of other lovely winter bloomers. They had masses of Camellias just waiting to burst forth. There were spicy scented Hamamelis, skimmias, winter flowering clematis. There were tiny, jewel-like cyclamens. The highlight, of course, was the Hellebores. Every colour (almost) and marking imaginable!

There were sultry blacks…


… and pure whites.




… And doubles.

Pretty primrose yellows… (this is called “Moonlight”, I believe)


…and frilly pinks.


Some gorgeous sunshine shades, from their ranges with names such as Daybreak, Sunrise and Neon, all beautifully displayed in colour co-ordinated wooden crates…


…or amongst other bright and cheerful winter planting.


What a sunny display – with scent thrown in!

Then there’s all the different markings.



… and even stripes!


Such perfect little faces!



But the star for me was the red one I spotted last month.


From the Rodney Davey marbled group called “Anna’s Red”. Isn’t she stunning?

The show gardens were looking spot on, although some “refurb” seemed to be going on.



And one for the Galanthophiles!


Now, the big question – did I buy anything? Of course I did!


I got the Hamamellis I have been wanting for such a long time. Hamamellis “Imperialis” with lemon yellow flowers, that are much longer than normal, giving a more impressive show. Complete with a sweet, heady scent too!

And I just couldn’t come home without “Anna”!

I went to Ashwood and….


….and spent some of our garden vouchers.

Ashwood, as would be expected at this time of year, was awash with the most gorgeous Hellebores. So many beautiful colours! I was particularly taken with a deep red one, with lovely marbled leaves – sorely tempted! (Sorry! Didn’t notice its name! Will pay more attention next time!) Several Witch Hazels were also available – “Pallida” in particular, caught my eye, or, more correctly, my nostrils. It was a lovely pale lemon, and it seemed to have the best scent of those on sale. Sorely tempted again! But I came away with a clematis – Clematis armandii “Apple Blossom”. Thank you, to my work friends! My choice was decided by space available. One of the uprights of the pergola has been bare for a couple of years, awaiting its replacement. Needs must! But I still have vouchers available for a Hamamelis which I’m determined to have. I just need to find a spot. And for that gorgeous red Hellebore!

Mr. Chef also spent some of his vouchers. He spotted a lovely little Green Man wall plaque, to add to our collection. A packet of seeds made up the balance. He is planning to try some Florence Fennel in the allotment. Sounds tasty!

Plant tags were needed, too, for all the propagation I’m planning. Many changes, moves and divisions are on the cards and I hate waste!

I can’t wait to get back to Ashwood soon. I’ve left behind so many goodies!

I went to Ashwood and….


….came home with a cyclamen, a viola and some tulip bulbs.

I was needing some floral supplies for the forthcoming autumn and winter, as well as thinking ahead to flowers for next spring.

I wanted to see some winter colour,

from the kitchen window image

and from the dining room window image

and, hopefully, some cutting material for vases.


Oh! And I nearly forgot! A garden magazine – what I went for!

I went to Ashwood and …..


….added to my scented shrub collection!

I was seeking out a scented shrub in flower now, as I was aware of a flowering gap in my scented shrub border. I was thinking of possibly a Caryopteris, which blooms at this time, but it prefers a sunny position, and our border is predominantly shady. I was open to options.

The nursery had a wide selection of Caryopteris available, and I succumbed, choosing Caryopteris x Clandonensis “Dark Knight”. This variety has the usual silvery-blue foliage, that is strongly aromatic, and the flowers are a lovely deep blue. The bees just love them! It was even obvious in the nursery – they were all over them!

I know! I said the Scented Shrub border was in shade! I’ve decided, that to increase my repertoire and accommodate more sun lovers, it’s time to extend, and the only other sunny area available is the front garden. So that is going to become “Phase 2”.

There’s still the gap in the display in the border in the back garden to solve. On the way out, there was a display of miniature Daphnes, several of which were either flowering or about to. I saw one – Daphne x Napolitana “Meon”. That would fit the bill! A small, scented shrub, reaching only 10″ x 18″, that had only 3 tiny rose pink flowers on it, but was still pumping out a very tempting scent even on this small scale. An impulse buy, well justified!

And a small pressy for my mum! She has been on the lookout for a prostrate Rosemary, so when I saw one I had to treat her.

And then back to the garden to enjoy the remnants of summer sun. As I sip my wine, I’m watching the bees flocking to the “Dark Knight”. Bliss! 🙂

I went to Ashwood and……


…..came back with mundane necessities. Compost, slug pellets (organic, of course!) and liquid seaweed, all had be got. Yawn! But it would be unforgivable not to browse while there! So into the basket went a few other “living” necessities.

Herbs. Our sunny herb border, was needing to be padded out a bit. When I say border, in reality it’s an edging of herbs, along one of our veg. beds. Our herb garden proper, is a tad on the shady side, and while the leafy herbs – oregano, chives, parsley etc.- do well, the woody, Mediterranean herbs prefer the sunny position in the “allotment”. The choice was a bit narrow at this time of year, but they did have what I was looking for – two thymes, one broadleaf, the other “Golden Queen” which is a lemon-scented thyme, and a curry plant. I love the smell it gives off, when it’s hot.

And a scented-leaf pelargonium. I had an empty terracotta pot that was itching to be filled, and was the right size for a pelargonium. My “collection” has now dwindled down to one, and I was keen to get another. This one is P. citriodorum, obviously a lemon- scented geranium. Just coming into flower, too!

All in all, a weekend full of foody smells!

I went to Ashwood and….


….came home with Jemima Puddleduck!

Don’t worry! I haven’t lost it entirely! I wanted to buy a present for my new niece, and shopping here is so much more pleasurable than having to tackle the dreaded Shopping Centre. And while I was there…!


…. I gave in to last month’s temptation and purchased one of the beautiful hellebores I was admiring then. (I did promise there’s always next month!) I know the season is almost over, and although still looking good, they are getting past their best, but I was not just getting a beautiful hellebore, but also a bargain! Who could turn it down? It is one of the Ashwood garden hybrids, with yellow cups, backed with peachy, pink and flushed red in the centre. I know where that’s going!

That was not my only garden purchase. As well as the bucket of chicken manure that’s needed at this time of year, I also added an Oriental poppy – Papaver “Patty’s Plum” – to be added to one of my new herbaceous borders. Love it’s smoky plum colour – so spectacular though short lived. I already have one in another bed in the garden, but I’m too impatient to propagate it – I want instant results! Hope to show you it’s progress later!

I went to Ashwood and…


….I, sadly, managed to resist all the beautiful hellebores – the yellows, reds, and doubles…..(sob!). Instead, I was disciplined enough to stick to what I needed – some holly hedging to plug a gap in my native hedge. I did add in some sweet pea seeds, though, with a view to have some lovely cutting flowers, to adorn both the potager, and the house. I chose two old varieties – “Matucana” and “Painted Lady”. Let’s see what happens! And there’s always next month’s visit!