Plants in flower or just barking at Bodnant Gardens

Despite the snow there was plenty to see at Bodnant yesterday. In winter the colour of the bark is as important as the flowers. I did not get the name of the arbutus but in the dappled sunshine it looked a treat.

The flowers of this rhododendron dauricum are of course essential to its beauty.

Wintersweet, or more precisely Chimonanthus praecox, has an insignificant flower, making its impact with the sweetness of its perfume, carried well in the cold Welsh air.

This time the Acer griseum provides the colourful bark.

And the birch, Betula ermanii ‘Grayswood Hill’.

Dogwoods and ericas always give good value for money at this time of the year, the yellow, green and red stems reflecting the sunlight.

Rijnveldt’s Early Sensation was planted all over the extensive gardens and are truly one for the early garden.

 Last year I very nearly bought the hellebore, ‘Penny’s Pink’. This year I wish I had.

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Feuerzauber’, and the warm brightness of  ‘Iwato’ through the sunlight.

Finally, as I draw an end to what amounts to a shopping list, a lovely fresh euphorbia, characias ‘Wulfenii’.


The Winter Garden at Dunham Massey

500 years and still going strong, the oldest oak tree at Dunham Massey

In 2007 the National Trust commenced transforming Dunham Massey’s 7 acre wilderness of thicket and brambles into a spectacular winter garden underneath the towering beech and oak trees. The season must be milder than our Yorkshire garden for the plants were two weeks more advanced. I’d taken my new Sony Macro Lens for the close-up work but was tempted to use it for all the shots. Here’s the results and I can recommend the lens, and garden.

The dwarf iris was the first test for the lens
Beech, Birch and Beauty
Camellia ‘High Hat’ looking far too exotic for the winter garden
Hellebore, Ashwin Garden Hybrid

 Lonicera purpusii Winter Beauty (Honeysuckle) makes up for its diminutive flower with the size of its perfume
Snowdrops in profusion      
Hamamelis (witch hazel)      

Hodsock Priory Snowdrop Week, Saturday 9th to Sunday 17th February 2019

We had feared that Hodsock was closing down its gardens to the public and were delighted to discover that though they will not be open for their customary month, they are having a ‘back to basics’ week from Saturday 9th to Sunday 17th February 2019. The photograph below was taken at one of their evening events, Saturday February 17th. This year’s ‘basics’ is a counterpoint to last year’s extravagance perhaps. My grandchildren, towards the right, enjoyed the merry fun, tramping through the trees following the thespians. Max got carried away engaging in conversation the guy swinging through the trees having imbibed rather too much of the festive wine.

Alpine House, Harlow Carr

Thick snow was covering the garden until today’s rain and slight thaw. Still, time for the Alpine House at Harlow Carr. All 24m of it.

Primula allionii makes a striking show within the protection of glass walls.

Saxifraga ‘Gemma’

Galanthus ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’ looking less beaten down by adversity than mine in the garden

Saxifraga allionii ‘Elizabeth Burrow’

Saxifraga ‘Miluj Mne’ 

Ipheion uniflorum ‘Rolf Fiedler’  – another that in my garden is looking a little sorry for itself at the moment

I was intending to show the difference between ‘Brenda Troyle’ and ‘Sam Arnott’, two very similar snowdrops. I will!

Years ago I saw Cyclamen cilicium  in the hills of Greece and it triggered a great love of all things cyclamen. I’ve had more flowers on mine however.
Saxifraga ‘Kathleen’ and spelt as my mother-in-law’s name 

Saxifraga hybr. ‘Večerní Hvězda’ and my favourite of the day.

Laburnum Arch, Brodsworth Hall, May 16th 2017

One tends to take one’s locality for granted. We live nearby the stunning English Heritage property, Brodsworth Hall. We use it as a park, the facility more than paying back the cost of our annual subscription. Over the years we have seen a stupendous improvement in the gardens, from snowdrops in January, massed bedding displays in spring and summer, and throughout the year the gloriously maintained topiary. The gardens are one of only three on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens to Grade II*. The neglected gardens covering some 15 acres, and in the structure of the 1860s, received funding from the UK’s lottery fund in 2002, the restoration initially supposed to take three years but the reality is that there has been continuous work to restore a grandeur I suspect was never quite as wondrous as it is now, despite the size of the 19th century workforce, a number only to be dreamed of by the more streamlined team working there today. The reason of course is that the trees and shrubs have achieved maturity and been shaped to an uniformity unknown in nature. Which leads me to the laburnum arch.

I suspect we visited a week or so before the laburnums fleshed out to their full glory
The formal spring bedding looking splendid to be replaced a few short weeks later with summer plants
Brodsworth Hall Fountain, restored, eye-catching and cascading – not always the case

The first of three of the structures, this Victorian privy was a restored, or rebuilt to be frank, last year

Cutting down the overgrown trees and shrubs revealed to visitors of the house and gardens, the largely 12th century St Michael and All Angels, the vista recreated from an old photograph. If the visit is timed correctly tea and cakes are provided there several times a year and they are always delicious…
Just a glimpse of the house itself viewed from behind the shrubs`clipped to a measured inch of their lives
Different members of the gardening team take responsibility for the choice of bedding plants for spring and summer

The chalet or summer house

Moorcroft at Hodsock Priory this Weekend

Moorcroft, that quintessentially English pottery company is presently displaying its latest ranges at that most English of snowdrop sanctuaries, Hodsock Priory. You have only Saturday and Sunday to visit. The first pot here is specially made for the exhibition and I have taken a few images of the snowdrop/hepatica/winter themed ranges. There’s a lecture and demonstration in the morning and various experts on hand to guide you. We were all given a £50 money off voucher and there was a definite queue of buyers so it seems a commercial success. I didn’t part with my voucher however although I was tempted by the very large owl at the end. The ticket price of £4000 was admittedly a distraction. There were however other discounted pieces to tempt most pockets.

Brodsworth Hall Snowdrops

Over the past few years nearby Brodsworth Hall has been building up its displays of snowdrops, taking out acres of overgrown beds and planting a variety of shrubs and flowers, as well as creating vistas based on original photographs of the great house and estate.

Under this tree on the approach drive are some of the choicest cyclamen varieties I have encountered. They mainly flower in April but have had outriders in flower from late autumn onward. They can be discerned among the snowdrops. The cyclamen survive grass mowing a mere week or so after flowering. Remarkable.

Three years ago this area was overgrown

Galanthus elwisii

The aconites combine well. A little sun is required to show them at their best

The woodland snowdrops have thrived in the last three years

Hodsock Priory – snowdrop heaven

Hodsock reduced their number of weeks to only three this year, commencing on Saturday. A difficult decision I should imagine but reducing staff overheads is a consideration for any business. And on a bright day today with lots of visitors, perhaps it has been the correct decision. The woodlands looked particularly impressive. I normally meet George Buchanan, who manages the estate, though today he was not in evidence. Still, the plant stalls and refreshment tent were splendid as usual.

The view of the house is always impressive from this point, almost the perfect English country residence, don’t you think

The thick snowdrops and early flowering narcissus, ‘Cedric Morris’ take the eye on the bank

Thick clumps of big snowdrops abound


The spur to many a purchase of Hamamelidaceae in variety, well priced at the stalls

Galanthus ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’, I believe

Cyclamen Coum

And always a chance of unearthing something special

‘Cedric Morris’. I acquired one last month. It’s been a long wait for this early bloomer. They were just going over here 

But another early cultivar was just coming into bloom in a sunny spot

Carpets of white