Full of late summer colour – Aston Pottery and Gardens, Oxfordshire

Last week we had the great pleasure of visiting the flower gardens at Aston Pottery in Oxfordshire.  At a time of year when many gardens are beginning to decline and look rather tired, the garden here at Aston Pottery was bursting with colour and intensity.

The sheer range of flowers and the quality of the blooms was extremely impressive.  Many people have reported that the Dahlias this year have been poor in their gardens but there was no sign of a bad year here at Aston Pottery.  I was particularly struck by the way the borders had been laid out in triangles giving them both structure and allowing the complementary colours and forms to work well together.

There was no doubt that a huge amount of effort had gone into the planning, planting and subsequent plant husbandry to create a wonderful effect.

Well worth a visit if you get the chance at this time of year.

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Location:  Aston Pottery, The Stables, Kingsway Farm, Aston, Oxfordshire OX18 2BT

Website: http://astonpottery.co.uk/



Morton Hall Gardens in August

It is always nice to discover new gardens especially when they are on your doorstep.  Morton Hall Gardens is located near Inkberrow in Worcestershire and opens for charity on only a few days a year.  The gardens surround an 18th century manor house that has stunning views across the Vale of Evesham.

Despite the very difficult 2018 summer the gardens were full of colour.  We were very impressed with the wide range of late season clematis that were in full flower throughout the garden.   Most of the clematis in our garden are now past their best and we will certainly look out for some of the varieties we saw this week to enhance the late summer borders.

There is no doubt that a great deal of thought and attention to detail has gone into all the planting.  The colour combinations worked wonderfully well in both the potager with its shades of yellow and red and in the formal borders of pinks, whites, pale blues and lavender. The density of planting was not cluttered and overdone and you could enjoy the individual plants and combinations.

A very impressive garden and well worth a visit if you get the chance.  We will certainly go again at a different time of year if we get the chance.



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The gardens are next open for charity under the National Garden Scheme (NGS) on 1 September 2018.  I am sure that my photographs do not do the garden justice and you might like to visit the very informative website at:  http://mortonhallgardens.co.uk

Garden location:  B96 6SJ


Cornish Gardens – Six on Saturday

Having relatives in Cornwall we have been regular visitors over the years, seeing it at its worst in the depths of winter and at its best in spring when the lanes are full of spring flowers.

Each time we go we try to spend some time visiting gardens as well as walking on the moors.  We like to seek out gardens that we have not seen before but also like to revisit old friends to see how they change throughout the seasons.

Cornish gardens are many and varied but could often be characterised by their rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias in the spring and massive blossoming hydrangeas in late summer.  The climate certainly lends itself to growing more tender plants that may not be able to be grown ‘up country’.  However, the wind does certainly blow in the winter months and for those that garden in this county a lot of effort is placed on creating effective wind breaks to protect plants.

Here are a selection of six gardens that we have enjoyed on our visits to Cornwall.  As dog owners a key features has been that our four-legged friends can enjoy the visit with us.

One:  Trebah Garden ( www.trebah-garden.co.uk )

I think this is probably one of our favourite gardens of recent times.  A beautiful sub-tropical garden wending its way down the valley towards the sea.  Excellent for dogs and most importantly a great restaurant for lunch!

Trebah Gardens in August
Trebah Gardens in August
Looking up the valley at Trebah Gardens in August
Looking up the valley at Trebah Gardens in August

Location:  Mawnan Smith, Falmouth TR11 5JZ

Two:  Pinsla Garden ( pinslagarden.net )

Compared to some of the other gardens listed here this is a relatively small garden but one that has enormous charm.  Described as a ‘romantic artist’s garden’ it is full of interesting plants, sculptures and landscaping features around every corner.

Photo credit:  https://www.greatbritishgardens.co.uk

Location:  Glynn, Nr Cardinham, Bodmin PL30 4AY

Three:  Pencarrow House and Gardens ( pencarrow.co.uk )

The Italian Garden at Pencarrow in August 2018
The Italian Garden at Pencarrow in August 2018

Situated on the edge of Bodmin Moor the very formal Italianate gardens of the Georgian mansion are very different from many of the other Cornish gardens listed in this six.  The elegance of the garden fits the regency style beautifully and you can just imagine the well dressed visitors travelling up the valley to view the managed landscape garden.

Valley river garden at Pencarrow in August
Valley river garden at Pencarrow in August

Although many gardens now allow dogs on leads this is by far the most dog friendly garden and estate we have been to for a long time.  Walking through the woodland on the estate off the lead was a real pleasure.

Location:  Washaway, Bodmin PL30 3AG

Four:  Ken-Caro Garden

An interesting garden with lily ponds and wonderful views across the valley towards Dartmoor.  We visited in August but I suspect that like many Cornish gardens it would be worth visiting when the magnolias, azaleas and rhododendrons are at their best.   Dogs on leads allowed.

Ken Caro garden ponds in August
Ken Caro garden ponds in August
View across the valley from Ken Caro Gardens in August 2018
View across the valley from Ken Caro Gardens in August 2018

Location:  Bicton, St Ive, Nr Liskeard PL14 5RF

Five:  The Lost Gardens of Heligan ( www.heligan.com )

Heligan in May
Heligan in May

This is one of Cornwall’s major tourist attractions and we had been rather reticent to go in case it was just too full of people.  However, with over 200 acres of gardens and estate it just soaks up the people and we found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable visit with a mix of relaxed Cornish sub-tropical gardens and more formal fruit and vegetable gardens.  Once again this garden is dog friendly.

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Walled garden at Heligan in May

Location: Pentewan, St.Austell PL26 6EN

Six:  Pinetum Gardens (previously Pine Lodge)  ( www.pinetumgardens.com )

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Japanese Garden at Pine Lodge in May

This is a garden we have visited on numerous occasions over the years and it never fails to please.  At different times of year it has very different things to offer.  I can remember us being totally blown away with the white wisteria bridge when we first visited and on subsequent occasions have noticed the huge range of unusual plants that we had not noticed on previous visits.  The Japanese garden is a real gem and more recently we have enjoyed watching the winter garden develop.  Well worth a visit.

Pinetum Garden in August
Pinetum Garden in August
Pinetum Garden in May
Pinetum Garden in May

Location: Holmbush, St Austell PL25 3RQ


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Seeking inspiration for autumn planting from four Herefordshire gardens

One of the great things about planning and developing a new flower garden is that it is a wonderful excuse to go out and seek inspiration from other people’s gardens (not that we really need much of an excuse to visit the beautiful gardens across England!).

During last week (w/b 7 October 2017) we visited four varied Herefordshire gardens to find out how they had maintained the colour in their borders into October.  We want to be able to extend the flowering season well into autumn if possible.  We had not visited any of the gardens before and everyone offered something to think about.

Firstly a little about the gardens and then we will say something about the planting combinations we discovered:

Hampton Court Castle (www.hamptoncourt.org.uk)

Located at Hope Under Dinmore just south of Leominster, Hampton Court has been standing by the River Lugg for 600 years.  This wonderful ‘formal’ garden is divided into a number of garden rooms with island pavilions, pleached avenues, grottoes, a yew maze and more.  We thoroughly enjoyed this garden and will try and visit again at other times of year.

Strong formal lines created by box hedges and topiary at Hampton Court Castle Garden

Croft Castle (nationaltrust.org.uk/croftcastle)

A National Trust garden situated near Yarpole and the home of some wonderful ancient oak and spanish chestnut trees.  If you like walking and have a dog the estate is dog friendly and there are a range of well marked walks throughout the parkland.  The castle has a walled garden and working vineyard.

The delightful church at Croft Castle near Yarpole

Hergest Croft Gardens (www.hergest.co.uk)

A plantman’s garden with a wide range of interesting and unusual trees and plants.  Located in the grounds of a building of the arts and crafts period the garden draws on specimens brought back by the plant hunters of the period.  The garden boasts over 90 champion trees.

The arts and craft era house at Hergest Croft Gardens

Berrington Hall (nationaltrust.org.uk/berringtonhall)

An absolutely stunning Georgian Manor and parkland near Leominster.  The manor sits within the last landscape commission of ‘Capability’ Brown as well as having excellent walled gardens, kitchen garden and orchards.

The Georgian mansion at Berrington Hall sits within extensive parkland designed by Capability Brown

October colour in these enchanting gardens

The first observation is that it is clearly possible to maintain the colour in your herbaceous borders right into October as long as you are clear of frost.

At Berrington Hall we saw beds of complementary colours brimming with colourful cosmos in a range of varieties and shades, complemented with pink malope (Malope trifida).  These beds also made use of Nicotiana sylvestris creating a wonderful structural candelabra effect (and I suspect that in the evening these beds would also be bathed in scent).  Contrasting some of the darker, purple cosmos was the lovely perennial sunflower which we assume was the variety ‘Lemon Queen’

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The borders at Berrington Hall used complementary varieties of cosmos and malope in pink and purple contrasted with the perennial sunflower ‘Lemon Queen’.

Berrington Hall also made wonderful use of grasses within the borders which really come into their own as this time of year.  The tall Miscanthus with its slightly pinkish seeds heads sits well with the candelabra of the Nicotiana sylvestris, Malope trifida and cleome.  The Rudbeckia ‘Cherry Brandy’ brings in a subtle red/brown which works well with the rest of the border.

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Herbaceous border mixing tall Miscanthus grasses with Nicotiana sylvestris, mallow, cleome and Rudbeckia ‘Cherry Brandy’

But of course contrasting colours can give a totally different effect and bring a zing to a border.  At Croft Castle the perennial sunflower ‘Lemon Queen’ sits alongside the tall floating stems of Verbena bonariensis.  In the evening light this Verbena almost has a fluorescence as the light fades.


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Contrasting colours of yellow Helinium ‘Lemon Queen’ and Verbena bonariensis at Croft Castle

And lets us not forget the strong shades of autumn colour that can really bring a garden to life.  Here at Croft Castle the Vitis coignetiae was in its full glory in the walled garden.

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Vitis coignetiae providing stunning autumn colours against the formal yew topiary at Croft Castle

At Hergest Croft Garden we saw a more traditional autumn border of michaelmas daisies, sedum and saxifrage in pink, mauve and white.  Very much loved by butterflies at this time of year these combinations are not to be under estimated.

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Long borders of autumn flowering michaelmas daisies, sedum and saxifrage in pink, mauve and white at Hergest Croft Garden

In contrast, Hergest Croft also showed that the more tender perennials such as Salvia confertiflora and Salvia involucrata ‘Bethellii’ can still provide striking border plants at this time of year if frosty nights have not yet arrived.  Mixed with dahlias and other salvias and edged with Liriope muscari these borders are still brimming with colour into October.

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Borders of salvias and dahlias still in full bloom at Hergest Croft Garden nicely edged to the path with Liriope muscari

Dahlias also featured in the beds at Hampton Court Castle gardens along with white cosmos to give a light airy feel and more cottage style to the borders.  A very striking addition was the strong architectural shape of the deep burgundy amaranthus, grasses and white cleome in these borders – stunningly effective planting.

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Architectural planting of amaranthus, grasses and cleome complement the cottage style planting of dahlias and white cosmos in these borders at Hampton Court Castle
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Beautiful combinations of form and texture in these borders at Hampton Court Castle

In addition to this stunning planting of complementary shades, many of the borders a Hampton Court Castle also used contrasting colours to great effect.  Combinations of strong blue with a very dense double ‘feverfew’ and also the yellow perennial Rudbeckia fulgida with tall stands of blue Monkshood (Aconitum) made wonderful combinations for an October border.

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Striking blue and white combination provide something very different at Hampton Court Castle for the autumn garden
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Large stands of perennial Rudbeckia fulgida contrast well with the blue Monkshood at Hampton Court Castle gardens

Plenty to think about…

Well there is certainly no doubt that, with planning, your herbaceous borders can look full of colour right into October.  We will certainly be adding some of these combinations to our future planting plans for the new garden and I hope it has also inspired you to see that the garden has much to offer at this time of year and is not simply shutting down for the winter.