Six snapshots in the garden to chart the changing seasons
Last weeks Six on Saturday went quite well so I’ve decided to give it another go this week. I’m away from the house so it’s another cheat week from me. The weather has turned chilly and we’re staying at the in-laws’ house in Surrey. The frost in the garden here was too much of a novelty for me so I thought I’d share.
The Six on Saturday meme was started by The Propagator so go and take a look at his weekly post. Also look through the comments to find more blogs joining in.
This Winter Jasmine putting in a good show this time of year but I doubt I’ll ever covet it for my own garden. I find the growth habit odd and for most of the year it’s just wiry stems.
Seed heads of Japanese Anemone. This is a lesson in not clearing away your perennials once they’ve gone to sleep for winter – look what you’ll miss out on!
The same goes for Hydrangeas. Leaving the spent flower heads is supposed to provide some cover against frost but more importantly it keeps interest into the depths of winter.
Frost covered acorns and their husks.
This Azalea is another plant that I probably won’t plant myself but the foliage at this time of year has great colour and the frosting looks great.
Well it is nearly Christmas! I’m getting more interested in conifers and the like. The pale blue needles on this Pine match the chilly morning air. After my morning promenade around the garden my coffee had gone cold and my fingers had chilled. Enjoy the frosty weekend.
Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens have been on my ‘must visit’ list for some time.
Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens have been on my radar for some time so I was pleased to finally get the chance to visit this month. The gardens are a showcase for what can survive and thrive in our climate. Aside from the favourable climate of coastal Dorset, the gardens have been planted with foresight and windbreaks to create microclimates.
I’ve had a week of annual leave and we decided to take a day out and make the short trip to Dorset. We make regular trips to Surrey but have never managed to combine the drive past the door with a visit. I’m planning a redesign of the top garden to incorporate more exotic and Australian planting and I was hoping to get some inspiration.
How to find Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens
The gardens are located near Chesil Beach. We turned off the A35 at Bridport and followed the stunning coast road.
Entrance: A very reasonable £12.50 per adult at the gate. There are online discounts and RHS members get free entry at the end of the year.
Opening times: Open every day except 18th December to1st January. 10am to 5pm (or 4pm in winter)
Around the garden
The gardens are organised into smaller areas and some larger ones. The cafe is a colonial-style building built in the old walled garden. There are grass borders, a large woodland area, and some formal ponds.
The woodland area was looking great in November. The Acers were stunning and cast a glow over the pleasant walk. There was a great Gingko next to a stream looking great in its autumn yellow.
We took the pram and went for a gentle stroll around the grounds. There were some steps and some uneven ground but the paths are well marked and a clear wheelchair route signposted.
We went on a cool, dry, November day and there were plenty of interesting plants to see. The coffee was great and the facilities were of a high standard and very clean. There is a plant sales area but I was disappointed to see that most of the interesting plants I had noted weren’t for sale. It may be that these weren’t offered at this time of year. The selection there was nice, the plants looked healthy, but there wasn’t anything I can’t get anywhere else.
One of the great things about visiting gardens is the chance to meet new plants. I always have my camera handy for taking notes and pictures for research later.
I’ve seen Fasicularia bicolor in Australia and more recently at a hotel in Cornwall. It’s now familiar but I can never remember its name.
I think this was the largest Gingko that I’ve seen and the yellow leaves made me stop and stare upwards.
The Pseudopanax was well labelled, as were a lot of the specimen trees, and it’s firmly on my wish list.
I had to take to Twitter to find the identity of this plant. The fruit looked familiar but I just couldn’t place it. Thankfully, Dr Dale Dixon from The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney helped me out with an ID. This is also now on the wish list. Luckily Plant World Seeds lists it.
If you’re holidaying in the UK there are plenty of world-class gardens to discover and Cornwall’s flagship is The Eden Project
During a mini-break staycation for our anniversary, my wife and I met up with my lovely gardening aunt for a day out to two Cornish Gardens. We visited the Eden Project in the morning and The Pinetum, which is just down the road from its more famous neighbour, after filling up on a pasty for lunch.
How to find the Eden Project
The safest route is to head towards St Austell and following the brown tourist signs to find the main entrance. Previously we’ve followed the Sat Nav and ended up coming through some small lanes. It’s probably a longer route on the main roads but at least you cant get lost.
Entrance: an eye-watering £27 per adult at the gate.
Opening times – quite variable within the month. Somewhere between 9-9:30 and closing by 6pm. The biomes open later at 10am. It’s best to check for the day you’re planning on going.
The site is split into a few areas of note. The two main Biomes share a linkway which houses facilities and restaurant. One side is a tropical rainforest biome and the other house is a more arid, Meditteranean-like environment. There are purely ornamental plantings and on the steep slopes at the far end are various food crops from around the world on show. It’s sold as a full day attraction, and it would have to be for the entry costs, but even with two gardening fans in the group we only managed 3 hours before it was time to move on.
The biggest draw is the two biomes. These amazing structures are the real highlights for me. It’s interesting visiting again after living overseas and spending some time in Thailand and Singapore as the rainforest biome. On my first visit the plants we alien to me and I didn’t find them that interesting. Coming back this year they’re now familiar, almost ubiquitous, and I found myself spending more time looking at the foliage and flowers.
The temperate biome has a special feature on Western Australia which is an interesting, if small, new addition.
I’m glad to have visited again as it’s been a good number of years since we were last there. That being said there’s nothing really new to see so if you’ve been in the last 5 years you’re not missing out. For the money spent it feels a bit overpriced, as impressive as the biomes are, it almost needs more here to keep your interest. We also noted that the amount of plant labeling is poor. Where plants are so international and unique you have to have labels to fully appreciate what you’re seeing.
Joining a popular garden bloggers meme and sharing the flowers blooming in my garden each month.
Every 15th of the month garden bloggers around the month share what’s happening in their gardens by photographing what’s in flower on their plot on that day. I last joined in this event in April 2014 and thought it might be fun to come out to play again. I’m looking forward to connecting with more garden bloggers through this.
Carol at May Dreams Gardens hosts this very popular meme and you can find out more about her blog here.
With the help of this useful map my garden would be in the USDA plant hardiness Zone 9a.
Garden Bloggers Bloom Day June 2017
This guy can get to over 6ft in the border – I’ve sown more seeds this year to see if I can get a few more dotted through the sunny border in the far garden.
I love, love, love this plant and I can’t wait for it to produce seeds so I can get a drift going. The leaves feel exactly the same as our chocolate labrador’s ears. He passed away last year and it’s lovely to sit and stroke them.
The best smelling climbing rose; its bright pink (bordering on Barbie) is tolerated for the scent.
I’ve taken out clumps of this from around the garden as the coarse strap leaves and muddy flowers are easily out-performed with something else in the space.
I know I planted this one 3 years ago but it’s the only rose not to have its label kept in the ‘label bag’. Lightly scented and closer to the colour pallet we’re aiming for in this part of the garden. It tones down Gertrude Jekyll.
To celebrate the birthday of my lovely wife we decided to treat ourselves to a mini break whilst we were visiting the UK.
We chose Oxford and The Cotswolds, primarily due to the location of a few notable gardens and a long-term desire to spend the night at Raymond Blanc’s famous hotel.
How to get there
It’s an easy drive from London on the M40 and a 10 minute trip out of Oxford to get to the gardens. We were staying the night so were able to explore the gardens in the evening and first thing in the morning. The grand gates signal that you’ve arrived outside the hotel but you have to get very close to be able to read the golden signs clearly. I drove past this entrance twice!!
For me the best parts of the garden were the potager / greenhouse area and the Old Orchard which has recently been redesigned by Chris Beardshaw with perennial underplanting.
List of Gardens
English Water Garden
Japanese Garden with Tea House
Vegetable Garden / Potager
The Vegetable Garden
Walking around the quiet vegetable garden as the sun went down was a highlight of our recent visit back to the UK. We could smell the open fires burning and the air was crisp and cool. A perfect dry winter day. The paths are easy to traverse and the display of world-class productive gardening was impressive.
I spent a long time exploring the greenhouse shown below. I’ve taken the details to furnish my imaginary future garden. At this time of year they had a wide variety of chillies and peppers still producing in the sheltered environment. Also, as seen above, were the winter squashes seasoning.
At the furthest point of the grounds, on the other side of the main car park, you’ll find the new orchard. This is a fantastic display of over 800 varieties of fruit. The gardener encouraged us to take an apple to try with no hesitation. They were beautiful.
The Old Orchard
The most popular twitter post I’ve ever had came from this image of Chris Beardshaw’s perennial planting design under the old Orchard. It is a magical area of the garden. I wish I could have spent more time sitting in there but it was dinner time and needs must.
How to visit the garden
One way to get access to the garden is to spend the night at the hotel. For those on a more sensible budget you can join one of the garden group tours which run regularly during the year. I haven’t done this tour but for Thirty Pounds and tea and biscuits included it would definitely be worth the money.