Six on Saturday: 9th December 2017

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.

ONE

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.

TWO

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!

THREE

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.

FOUR

Frost covered acorns and their husks.

FIVE

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.

SIX

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.

Garden Visit: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens November 2017

Garden Visit: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens November 2017. Tropical, Tropical plants, subtropical, subtropical plants, acer, autumn colour, winter day out, winter garden visit, herbaceous, autumn, autumnal colour, late summer garden design, garden, gardening, Dorset, South West, UK, RHS, RHS partner garden, RHS membership, RHS membership benefits.

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.

Garden Visit: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens November 2017. Tropical, Tropical plants, subtropical, subtropical plants, acer, autumn colour, winter day out, winter garden visit, herbaceous, autumn, autumnal colour, late summer garden design, garden, gardening, Dorset, South West, UK, RHS, RHS partner garden, RHS membership, RHS membership benefits.
Traditional path with interesting planting

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.

Garden Visit: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens November 2017. Tropical, Tropical plants, subtropical, subtropical plants, acer, autumn colour, winter day out, winter garden visit, herbaceous, autumn, autumnal colour, late summer garden design, garden, gardening, Dorset, South West, UK, RHS, RHS partner garden, RHS membership, RHS membership benefits.
Gingko biloba hovering over the stream

How to find Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens

 

Garden Visit: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens November 2017. Tropical, Tropical plants, subtropical, subtropical plants, acer, autumn colour, winter day out, winter garden visit, herbaceous, autumn, autumnal colour, late summer garden design, garden, gardening, Dorset, South West, UK, RHS, RHS partner garden, RHS membership, RHS membership benefits.

The gardens are located near Chesil Beach. We turned off the A35 at Bridport and followed the stunning coast road.

Useful Information

Website: https://abbotsbury-tourism.co.uk/gardens/

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)

Garden Visit: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens November 2017. Tropical, Tropical plants, subtropical, subtropical plants, acer, autumn colour, winter day out, winter garden visit, herbaceous, autumn, autumnal colour, late summer garden design, garden, gardening, Dorset, South West, UK, RHS, RHS partner garden, RHS membership, RHS membership benefits.
Subtropical foliage

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.

Garden Visit: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens November 2017. Tropical, Tropical plants, subtropical, subtropical plants, acer, autumn colour, winter day out, winter garden visit, herbaceous, autumn, autumnal colour, late summer garden design, garden, gardening, Dorset, South West, UK, RHS, RHS partner garden, RHS membership, RHS membership benefits.
Sunny steps

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.

Garden Visit: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens November 2017. Tropical, Tropical plants, subtropical, subtropical plants, acer, autumn colour, winter day out, winter garden visit, herbaceous, autumn, autumnal colour, late summer garden design, garden, gardening, Dorset, South West, UK, RHS, RHS partner garden, RHS membership, RHS membership benefits.
Contrasting leaf colours in the woodland

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.

Garden Visit: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens November 2017. Tropical, Tropical plants, subtropical, subtropical plants, acer, autumn colour, winter day out, winter garden visit, herbaceous, autumn, autumnal colour, late summer garden design, garden, gardening, Dorset, South West, UK, RHS, RHS partner garden, RHS membership, RHS membership benefits.
Gunnera alongside the pond

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.

Garden Visit: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens November 2017. Tropical, Tropical plants, subtropical, subtropical plants, acer, autumn colour, winter day out, winter garden visit, herbaceous, autumn, autumnal colour, late summer garden design, garden, gardening, Dorset, South West, UK, RHS, RHS partner garden, RHS membership, RHS membership benefits.
Acer in full autumn colours

Notable Plants

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.

Garden Visit: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens November 2017. Tropical, Tropical plants, subtropical, subtropical plants, acer, autumn colour, winter day out, winter garden visit, herbaceous, autumn, autumnal colour, late summer garden design, garden, gardening, Dorset, South West, UK, RHS, RHS partner garden, RHS membership, RHS membership benefits.
Fascicularia bicolor

I think this was the largest Gingko that I’ve seen and the yellow leaves made me stop and stare upwards.

Gingko biloba

The Pseudopanax was well labelled, as were a lot of the specimen trees, and it’s firmly on my wish list.

Garden Visit: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens November 2017. Tropical, Tropical plants, subtropical, subtropical plants, acer, autumn colour, winter day out, winter garden visit, herbaceous, autumn, autumnal colour, late summer garden design, garden, gardening, Dorset, South West, UK, RHS, RHS partner garden, RHS membership, RHS membership benefits.
Pseudopanax laetus

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.

Garden Visit: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens November 2017. Tropical, Tropical plants, subtropical, subtropical plants, acer, autumn colour, winter day out, winter garden visit, herbaceous, autumn, autumnal colour, late summer garden design, garden, gardening, Dorset, South West, UK, RHS, RHS partner garden, RHS membership, RHS membership benefits.
Solanum betaceum – the Tamarillo

Other UK Garden Visits

The Eden Project, Cornwall

Sussex Prairie Garden

RHS Wisley, Surrey, UK

Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons

Kew Garden

RHS Wisley Visit

Spring planting at RHS Wisley

The benefit of an RHS membership is free entry into the four gardens

Two weeks ago I popped in to RHS Wisley Garden for a look around. I had an hour to spare before I had to pick the other half up from the train station after attending the Crocus open day. Previously when we’ve visited it’s been during the winter months for reasons we don’t really know. So it was nice to see some some different aspects if the garden. I was going to say it’s nice to see some colour in the garden but anyone who has visited during winter can tell you there’s still plenty of stunning displays.

Fritillaries and anemones flowering
Fritillaries and anemones flowering

Newly added to the must have list in my head

I don’t have any trilliums in the garden but after seeing these they’re definitely on the want list. Dark and mysterious they like shady woodland environments. I have plenty of shady areas due to the stone barn in the garden.

Dark and mysterious Trilliums
Dark and mysterious Trilliums

Eye-searing colourful displays

I’m not a huge fan of bedding displays. It’s certainly not a style of gardening I’m in a hurry to include in my garden but I can appreciate the skill it takes to create such displays. These beds near the entrance to the gardens were very impressive indeed.

Seasonal planting showing a mixed border of spring bulbs and herbaceous perennials / annuals
Seasonal planting showing a mixed border of spring bulbs and herbaceous perennials / annuals

A highlight of the visit was the tulip garden. Apparently they had hundreds of varieties supplied by one of the large Dutch bulb growers to put together the garden exclusively from tulips. The effect was breathtaking and a huge contrast to the more muted palette of the woodland areas.

Spring planting at RHS Wisley
Spring planting at RHS Wisley

Trials beds

The trials area was half full – they’re obviously making plans for new trials starting this year. The Flowering Currant trial was looking great, along with the narcissus and euphorbia beds. However, it was the Erythronium trial that really caught my interest. White Beauty was my favourite here and also finds itself on the want list.

Winter highlights

Enkianthus campanulatus Early flowing shrub
Enkianthus campanulatus Early flowing shrub
Snakes-head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris)
Snakes-head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris)

Storm Damage : The repair

A quick repair to the damaged fence

Calling in reinforcements

The story so far

Storm Damage!

A short-term fix

With the help of a handy family member – someone with some competence in DIY (unlike myself) and equipped with some appropriate tools – I’ve spent the day putting the garden back together. This is a temporary fix to re-secure the boundaries pending a more permanent fix.

He also cut the massive hedge that makes the rear border of our garden. We came up with a bartering system (or skills-share as is the more popular term currently) whereby I agreed to prune his old and neglected apple tree and he would prune my hedge.

UPDATE: See how the repair looked

Storm Damage: Recovery

Planning for better times

Looking forward to summer, I’ve potted up some bare-root hardy geraniums. These were an offer from Thompson & Morgan where they were free if you pay the postage (worked out about £1 per plant which seemed acceptable to me).

Hardy geraniums arrive bare root and ready to be resurrected
Hardy geraniums arrive bare root and ready to be resurrected

Storm Damage!

Destruction in the garden as a storm knocks over the neighbours fence

Thought we were getting off light this winter until we woke up to this. Fortunately there’s not much up and through the soil yet so it could have been worse.

Destruction in the garden as a storm knocks over the neighbours fence
Destruction in the garden as a storm knocks over the neighbours fence

We’ll do more exploration tomorrow so assess the damage.

UPDATE: See how the recovery progressed

Storm Damage: The repair

Storm Damage: Recovery

Squelching Mulching Fun part 2

Daffodils emerging in terracotta pot

Finally a bright and sunny day!

 

After yesterdays rain delay I can finally show you some sunny winter garden shots.

Since it was sunny I thought I’d share the results of yesterday morning’s labours. Also, looks like my Narcissi are starting to poke through. Spring is coming!

View through the gate to the top garden
The top garden has a fresh pile of manure and the sun has come out

Squelching Mulching Fun

daffodils in a vase

 

Time to get mulching

We finally got round to mulching the beds today ( and just in time as the monsoon has started again in Devon). With thanks to a friend of ours and more so to her hoofed companion. This morning the fiancée and I vigorously filled bag after bag of muck – no need to go to the gym today for me.

 

I’ve prioritised the roses, the new apple tree we put in last Autumn and the areas where the flood cleared the topsoil away. Since the sight of a pile of horse muck only appeals to an unusual subset of society I’ve put in a picture of some daffs instead to brighten a drizzly January Saturday. (These aren’t just any daffs, these are British grown daffs purchased at a well known food and clothing chain)

January 2014

Rainbow January sky

 

A new year and a new start for the garden

It’s the time for taking stock of past failures and successes in the January Garden. Just when you think there’s a natural pause to proceedings, a time to sit and contemplate, nature has other plans. After our hectic festive period, with the usual chaos of visiting relatives around the country, shopping, wrapping, decorating and still managing to find the time to do all the other things we somehow fit into the days plus a minor amount of flooding and a very sick Chocolate Labrador (who is thankfully on the mend), the garden was neglected.

Evergreens

Helleborus foetidissima
Helleborus foetidissima

So when I took my promenade around the patch it felt as if I had been away for months. We moved in just before Christmas 2012 so the garden looks again as it did when I first met it; the box balls standing proud in an otherwise drab scene.  However, it also highlights how much has changed in a year. The new Crab-apple tree is adding height to proceedings as planned. The new hazel is starting to unfurl its display which always reminds me of orange peel ribbons going into the Christmas cake.

Euphorbia
Euphorbia

 There are two Hollies in black planters which now sit either side of the old stable door (they used to be front door quality but they’re in need of some TLC and replanting). They still look statuesque guarding the entrance though.

Holly leaves
Holly leaves

 

New growth

Excitingly the narcissi have started to peak through the compost in their pots. A harbinger of spring, I am always disappointed that these tend to flower later in the season, almost arriving too late to be appreciated as the Aquilegias kick off.

narcissus
Narcissus breaking through

Even more exciting in the ‘nursery’ (A small covered patch of the top courtyard garden sheltered behind the barn where my young’uns grow up) is the site of Arum italicum germinating. I sowed these last winter but nothing happened. I’m glad now that I gave them another year to come through, although the snails seem to be glad as well.

Arum italicum germinating
Arum italicum germinating

And so to resolutions. My main resolution this year has to be to mulch. I didn’t do any last year, having just moved in and wanting to get a feel for the soil and what might come up, however, with the recent flood  I think the ground needs some TLC.

Happy New Year.