the decorative gardener


croft-gateWe took a short break on Wednesday afternoon to get some exercise and to see what progress the plants at the local National Trust garden were making.

If  you strip away the stately home, nay castle, the chapel, the 1500 acre parkland and farm, the Victorian walled garden, our place is just the same as Croft Castle. We share the same sort of soil, are at roughly the same altitude and our gardens face south. See? Very similar!

Within the walled garden there are chickens, bee hives, vines, an orchard and perennial borders. Over the winter there has been much path laying and whilst it is not quite finished the gardeners were restoring the borders where they had been affected by the work. This picture summed up the work in its on-going phase, the gardener having left his tools for a well-earned tea break, the stones removed from the border lying on the path. I love the faded paintwork on the blue door, the neat and tidy wire strainers  for attaching the espalier fruit trees to in parallel rows on each side. There is something beautiful in the simplicity of this scene.

The path is goicroft-pathng to be surfaced with a bonded gravel and will be a practical surface for the many visitors, but I think this old brick and cobble path in another part of the garden  is delightful.  It makes me wish there were old bricks and stones knocking about at home to make a path like it. The apples are beautifully pruned too. In fact, I had orchard envy and need to learn how to make my trees look this

Plant wise, the colour was mostly being supplied by bulbs-daffodils, crocus and snowdrops, quantities of chionodoxa and scillas, including a pink chionodoxa with many honeybee visitors. There were clumps of pulmonaria with bees too, but that was about the sum of the plants in flower.Very much the same things I have in flower at home, with the exception of the pink chionodoxa and that has been added to my wish list. I think it would be nice to plant  a clump under an apple tree to repeat the pink colour when the apple blossoms opens.

And on the same subject, my neighbours are growing  clumps of Primula denticulata “Alba” alongside a rich blue pulmonaria in their front garden.  It looks stunning and is a planting idea I shall cheerfully steal. Have you seen anything eye-catching or heart stopping, plant combination wise recently?

in the green


Last Sunday we walked in the South Shropshire hills and one of the highlights was passing  through a woodland carpeted with snowdrops. I cannot imagine ever tiring of the simple beauty of the February fair maids. Whether it is because the profusion of flowers is so welcome after the dead leaves and bare earth of November, December and January, or the simplicity of the blooms in their purity against a dark background, or because they herald the start of a new growing season or some combination of these I cannot tell. I just  know that I look for snowdrops more eagerly than for  any other flower that blooms in the garden.


Galanthis nivalis growing in my old garden in Wiltshire last February

There are so many varieties to choose from, all nuanced variations on the theme of white with green markings. But for me, they don’t need to be expensive, strangely marked, yellow, double, extra tall or balloon shaped to appeal. Plain Galanthus nivalis, the simple single,  is all I need, preferably in carpet quantities.

I have said on here before there are no snowdrops in this garden and so I ordered my first 100 in the green last week from Naturescape.  They arrived promptly and in lovely condition.  I have planted them and there will be pictures soon. And probably another order.


Double snowdrops also growing in my Wiltshire garden last spring

With staggering timing, when I went to inspect the newly planted bulbs after the frosty night we had Wednesday, I found  a newly flowering clump of snowdrops under the oak tree. I swear they were laughing at me.

And to further compound my wrongness, I bought a pot of double snowdrops on Ludlow market because they were pretty. Yes, I really like singles, but I like the ballerina skirts on these. And I have seen a picture of a yellow marked variety I like too….Oh dear, the slippery slope.

The snowdrops will be in flower for the next couple of weeks and there are plenty of places to see them. If you are out and about this weekend, let me know where you see any. This time last year we visited the breathtaking display at Painswick in Gloucestershire. I wrote about it here.