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Archive for the ‘Gardens to visit’ Category

Narcissus cantabricusI tweeted this gorgeous Narcissus cantabricus (white hoop-petticoat daffodil) last week as it was such a joyous (and early) sight to behold.  The cone shaped, slightly crimped petals have diminutive sepals dancing around their base and their delicate, wispy leaves highlight these showy little blooms (about 6inches high) to perfection. I glimpsed this arresting clump amongst the alpine planting at RHS Wisley (luckily on one of the drier days last week), but a little research has revealed that they’re a tad difficult to get a hold of. Annoying. Yellow versions of these bulbocodium daffodils, such as ‘conspicuus’ and ‘Golden Bells’, happily, seem much easier to buy.

Wisley don’t sell any N. cantabricus in their plant shop and Avon Bulbs don’t have them in their catalogue, but if they take your fancy, the very friendly Kevock Garden in Scotland will be stocking bulbs later in the year (from their new listings in April), so do get in touch with them and they’ll email you when the bulbs are for sale online again. They also have many other delightful and intriguing bulbs for sale, so definitely worth visiting their site. Kevock Garden, just south of Edinburgh, is open for group visits (and now definitely on my garden visiting list).

Rhododendron dauricum MidwinterOther stunners in flower at Wisley were this delicate Rhododenron dauricum ‘Midwinter’,

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Harry'this rich yellow Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Harry’,

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Harry' uprightwith a very pleasing upright habit,

Daphne Spring Heraldand this white Daphne ‘Spring Herald’, pumping out a deliciously strong, all-pervading winter perfume.

Sarcococca hookeriana var. digynaSarcococca hookeriana var. digyna has to be one of my all time favourite scents though, and I think the more pointed leaves and softer tone of green (and slightly messier shape) just wins out over a Sarcococca confusa.

Wisley car parkFinally, as the light was fading, even the car park had its own wow factor (Cornus ‘Midwinter Fire’ flaming away here). RHS Wisley-always worth a visit.

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Trained Ivy at Prieure D'OrsanSomehow after our summer holiday I just didn’t get to writing about Prieuré D’Orsan, but you may well have caught a glimpse of this gorgeous boutique hotel/garden (in Central France) on Monty’s visit for the BBC earlier this year.

This image just hasn’t left my head though, and I’ve been wondering if my wayward Solanum (scrambling up the back of the house) would take to being trained in a similar fashion. Probably not, probably a bit too loose and gangly (even if I could make it up the ladder to trim it). But I’d love to have a go at repeating the almost 2D simplicity of this heart-somewhere!Quince tree and chair at Prieure D'OrsanThere’s so much fantastic training and shaping going on at Prieuré D’Orsan. Nature has been constricted, controlled and cajoled, creating a myriad of desirable sculptural forms, whilst still providing an abundance of fruit. Quite remarkable, especially as this garden was a blank canvas only 20 years ago.

I thought I was getting a bit fancy with my attempt at training a quince tree into a fan shape, but this amazing specimen has been trained as a calming retreat over a woven chair. How bloomin’ delightful is that!

Quince chair at Prieure D'OrsanHere’s a side view, with more evidence of  fruit actually being produced, ready to be plucked after a nice shady sit-down.

Roses trained around small frame at Prieure D'OrsanVisiting later in the year meant that I didn’t get to see most of the roses in flower, but I did see plenty of ideas to take away with me.

Roses trained around large square frame at Prieure D'OrsanWhatever the structure, roses are twirled and twisted and this is certainly a way of training that I plan to experiment more with next year.

Ramblin rose 'Seagull' trained at Prieure D'OrsanThis ‘Seagull’ rose is a fairly rampant rambler, reaching up to 20ft high if left to its own devices,

Rambling rose 'Seagull' trained at Prieure D'Orsan

but curling and crossing stems should supply masses of flowers within this tightly contained framework. All very labour intensive, but what a labour of love (and devotion!). I was watching Carol Klein’s cottage garden episode on the Great British Garden Revival last night (you can catch up with it here), and I must admit to being a complete sucker for loose edges and flowing ebullient borders. Compared to such gentle cottagey planting,  there’s a severity to this garden (with more than a nod to its monastic past) that made me wander round in a respectful hush and a contemplative mood.

Playful supports for veg at Prieure D'Orsan

However, the supports and sculptural additions to the garden are bold and strangely playful and rather uplifting in their simple restraint.

Flower meadow at Priuere D'Orsan

Having said all that, there was a mini (well not that mini!) meadow tucked around the back behind the hotel, bringing in essential pollinators and a refreshing splash of colour.

Veg and flowers at Prieure D'OrsanThe veg patch was, not surprisingly, well-ordered and contained too,

Chunky veg beds at at Prieure D'Orsan

 and I couldn’t help admire the chunky beds and generous supports, packed full of glossy healthy veg.

Frames for roses at Prieure D'OrsanOn the way out, you can pick up your own beautifully crafted rose supports,

Trained apples and vines at Prieure D'Orsanand admire yet more trained fruit trees,vines

Bird box in trained vine at Prieure D'Orsanand even the odd invitation to nature. Prieuré D’Orsan-I’ll be back!

P.S. I couldn’t resist adding some of the gorgeous seats dotted around the garden too.

Chair woven arpound tree at Prieure D'Orsan

Chair 2 at Prieure D'Orsan

Chair 4 at Prieure D'Orsan

Chair unde apple tree at Prieure D'Orsan

Chair 1 at Prieure D'Orsan

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Gnarly old fruit tree in Wiveton Hall Kitchen Garden with vibrant blue Ceratostigma plumbaginoidesI’m a creature of habit, and once I find a fantastic garden, I can’t help returning to the scene, again and again. The stylishly unkempt walled kitchen garden at Wiveton Hall is always a lure, and combined with great coastal walks and big big skies, it’s a fantastic reason for sojourning in Norfolk (along the north coast to be precise!). I have blogged about the garden before, but I find that with each new visit comes a fresh wave of inspiration. I mean, what can beat the elegance and delight of a gnarly old pear tree surrounded by such flinty gorgeousness?

Fennel at Wiveton HallOr a field full of Fennel (aka Florence Fennel if you plan on buying seeds)?

Walled Garden at Wiveton Hall with 17th century houseThis most perfect of spots is attached to a 17th century Jacobean manor house and a fantastic café, (best food around for miles), whose chefs forage daily in the garden. For full immersion, you can hire a wing of the house (or one of their nearby cottages) or have a delicious meal at the café, overlooking the surrounding marshes. Alternatively, just pay your £2 in the shop (next to the cafe),

Wander in Wiveton Hall Kitchen Garden

and pop in for gentle wander.

Nerine and Erigeron Karvinskianus in the Walled Garden at Wiveton Hall 2Mid October, and there are still a few blooms in flower. Above, pink Nerine bowdenii and the daisy like stalwart Erigeron karvinksiannus hug the base on the wall,

Flowering parsley at Wiveton Halland parsley is supplying dainty lime green umbellifers as it goes to seed.

Kale and cabbages in Wiveton Hall Kitchen Garden

Eslewhere in the garden,  there are still plenty of herbs and veg to keep the restaurant going until it closes for the season on November 3rd. (Reopening around Easter 2014).

Compost bins at Wiveton HallAlong with the planting, I was rather taken by this fine trio of compost bins.

Compost bin at Wiveton Hall

I love their simple but brilliant construction and the fact that they too sit happily amid the flint surroundings.

Trained fruit trees at Wiveton Hall

Whilst it seems like a quiet time in the garden, the walls are awash with trained fruit trees,

Lgan-Tay berry (?)at Wiveton Hall

and fruit canes (not sure if this is a Tayberry or Loganberry?) have been beautifully positioned for the year ahead.

Cold frame in Wiveton Hall Kitchen GardenMore forward planning and propagation can be seen in a patched up cold frame,

Greenhouses in Wiveton Hall Kitchen Gardenin the greenhouses,

Seedlings at Wiveton Halland nestling in other corners of the garden. This kitchen garden is my idea of heaven.

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