Spring Garden Visit for Mothering Sunday

It’s always to treat to discover a garden you haven’t visited before- especially when they open for only one day a year. Gunthorpe Hall proved to be the perfect place to take Mum for our special Mothering Sunday outing.


We stood and admired these iron gates and views over the Rutland farmland. One thing we wished we had was a guide for all the rare breed sheep. Mum and I thought we recognised a few, but there were many we’d never seen before. The lambs were a springy delight. 


The park surrounding the formal garden is awash with daffodils, and every kind of spring bulb you can think of. 




Daffodils have naturalised in the grass around the magnolia, cherry and lime trees. Backed by a south facing wall, there’s a new kitchen garden with raised beds and a new Hartley Botanic greenhouse.



We all love to mooch in greenhouses, looking to see what other people are  growing. We found broad beans and  beetroot seedlings  looking very healthy and thriving. 


I would just love to get my hands on these sleeper-edged beds. There would be sweetpeas, and dahlias, and cut flowers galore! 


And after all that gardening, I’m sure I would be quite comfortable lying on these outdoor couches, with wonderful canvas sails to shade the sun. 


Well, some people have gnomes, stone statues etc. And then there’s……plastic penguins! Not sure what the story is behind these slightly grumpy-looking penguins, but there were quite a few about the place- all in different colours. And a white plastic gorilla, and a red teddy bear. I will try to find out and report back…….


We weren’t sure about the scary-looking eyes. But we did love the cowslip bank and the mulberry tree underplanted with thousands of bulbs. 


Gunthorpe Hall, near Oakham, opens for the Leicestershire National Gardens Scheme once a year. I can highly recommend a visit. The garden is a wonderful spring delight. Mum loved her outing – and the delicious afternoon tea made by all the hard working volunteers.  

Do you have any favourite spring gardens you like to visit? Or have you, like us, found somewhere new and special to visit? 

In a Vase on Monday- the first day of spring 

If you could see me today you would notice a huge smile. Not only is it the first day of spring- the days are getting noticeably lighter- but it is also my youngest daughter’s birthday.

So for this happy day, I have dashed around the garden picking spring flowers and blossom to fill the house with colour and scent. I always put cherry blossom in every room  for my daughter’s special day. There’s little pots of scented violets and wild primroses on all the windowsills. And for the front door I’ve made a willow kokedama bouquet.


The “ingredients” for the kokedama comprise a willow heart I made last winter, a cut down plastic juice bottle, some moss from the garden and some twine. I spotted this  idea at  Easton Walled Gardens last month. Snowdops wrapped in moss and twine made strikingly beautiful displays. I made a note of how they were put together.


Here’s my ingredients in the potting shed. I used a Robinsons juice bottle cut down to 10cm for a vase and some lime green Nutscene heritage twine. 


I made a nest around the vase with wet moss, and simply wrapped back and forth until the moss was secured. It was much easier than I expected, and only took a few minutes to make. The vase was easily tied to the front of the willow heart. 



The mossy vase was packed with winter- flowering Algerian Iris Unguicularis, hellebore Ashwood hybrids, pulmonaria, comfrey, fogetmenot, Prunus Kojo no Mai and vinca. 


For the dining table posies, delicate Victorian glasses  were filled with  Sissinghurst white pulmonaria, bellis daisies, comfrey, cowparsley, and pink corydalis. 

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And lots of glass jars of  pink and white blossom. 


You can never have too much blossom…..


Do you like making flower arrangements for special occasions at home?

 Many thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting this meme. Each week Cathy encourages us to go out into our gardens and find material for In a Vase on Monday. Cathy is celebrating her 5th anniversary of blogging today. She was one of the first people I followed on here, and I’ve really appreciated her helpful support and advice from the start. Finding friends and sharing ideas and information is for me, the best reason for joining in. 

#wordlesswednesday

Coltsfoot. I always search for this joyful ‘sign of spring in my garden. 


Tussilago farfara. Coltsfoot because of the shape of the flower. Traditionally used as an old country remedy for a cough. In fact, tussis is Latin for cough. Not to be recommended, as it is also toxic. Also known as bullsfoot, clay weed, hoofs, sow foot, dove dock, cleats, cough wort, ginge, tushy luck. Belongs to the asteraceae family. Loved by bees and hoverflies. Grows in sunny, bramble strewn, damp, wild meadow part of my garden.


What signs of spring do you yearn for in your garden?

In a Vase on Monday 

Regular readers will know that I grow flowers for my mother in law Joan. She’s 88 now and not able to visit as often as she would like. A posy of flowers  gives Joan a flavour of what’s growing in my garden each week. As well as flowers, I take twiggy sticks with green buds, hazel “lambs tails,” and fluffy grey willow. A taste of spring. 


This week there’s plenty of scented Paper White Narcissi- planted in the poly tunnel at Christmas. The blue and white hyacinths were planted last October and grown on in the cool dark potting shed in containers. Blue statice was grown in the veg garden last summer and hung upside down to dry in the potting shed eaves. It was the first time I’d grown statice. Choosing just the right moment to pick the flowers took a bit of practice. Some I left too late and were too far open. Others, picked on a wet day, sadly faded. 


I’m also picking this white bergenia at the moment. It makes beautiful  mini posies all on its own and lasts for a week in water. This variety is called Bergenia Jelle. 

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting this meme. Why not go over and see what  other people from all over the world are growing in their gardens right now. It’s fascinating to see the variety of plants and flowers and the different ways they are used.

#wordlesswednesday 

First bee of the year. Glad I planted those crocus bulbs. Camera phone photo. 

Have you spotted any bees in your garden yet? I saw a beautiful healthy frog by the pond today. I was so pleased as last year a number of them were diseased. Hopefully there will be frogspawn soon. 

My Garden Right Now

Joining in with Michelle and her new meme celebrating what’s in flower in the garden right now.

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It’s been sunny and warm enough on a couple of days to open the summerhouse doors. Grace cat has appreciated the warm weather. I’ve propped up the blue hyacinths with hazel twigs. Catkins are a perfect match for spring bulbs. Tete a tete daffodils were planted in pots in October and put behind the pottingshed out of sight. Luckily I looked the other day, and they were in full flower. A week or two earlier than last year.


This is the current view looking out from the summerhouse. The mini-wood will soon be bursting into leaf.  Snowdrops bought at Hodsock Priory are starting to spread. There’s a patch of wild garlic I shall be harvesting soon to make a delicious soup.


It only takes a few years for the patches of snowdrops to bulk up. I will be dividing these in the next week or so. I will dig up a clump, break them into half, put half back in the planting hole and spread the others about, incorporating some grit and leafmould in the planting pockets.


I’m saying goodbye to the aconite flowers for another year. Finally, after years of trying, they have taken off and are spreading across the wild garden. Incorporating lots of leafmould each year seems to be the answer. Plus patience. They really do only grow where they want to. I very nearly gave up to be honest.


At the side of the pottingshed there’s another wild garden where snowdrops and tiny  crocus   are making themselves at home. I love looking out of the side windows at this view.


Wild daffodils are finally starting to spread too. This was just one flowerhead last year. I am really happy to see it settling in with three flowers this year.


I think it’s my favourite daffodil. Such a delicate flower.


Primroses are escaping from the borders and making themselves at home in the lawn. A lovely consequence of giving up on the lawn feed and weed regime. Soon the whole front lawn will be awash with blue scented wild violets. They virtually pop up overnight. Such a wonderful sight to come home to.


There are violets by the front gate and all along the sunny front hedge bottom.


Eagerly awaited every spring- Prunus Okame is the first tree to flower in my garden. A blue sky is the perfect background for such a pretty pale pink flower.


A pink corydalis is thriving under the prunus and lives quite happily underneath the hellebores in shade.


My favourite hellebore right now. It reminds me of a stained glass window.


And finally, the pottingshed windowsill has pots of tiny tete a tete daffodils and single snowdrops. You can just see the blue hyacinths and matching daffodils inside the shed where the scent is intoxicating- mixed with smells of petrol for the mower and compost on the potting bench!

I hope you have enjoyed my whistle-stop  tour of the garden today. Thank you to Michelle for hosting this new meme. Why don’t you go over and see what’s looking good today in Michelle’s garden on www.http://vegplotting.blogspot.co.uk . Join in- all welcome!

#wordlesswednesday 

After the storm- there’s always hope. 


From my garden gate I can see this willow. The tree had five massive branches, all toppled by high winds last year. Now there’s new shoots from the fallen branches. Willows were seen as trees of celebration in Biblical times. At church,when I was little, I remember willow branches being used instead of palms to celebrate Palm Sunday. 

Willows are often associated with sadness and mourning. As a young teenager  I read Shakespeare’s Hamlet at school and  can vividly recall the scene where  Ophelia drowns  beside a willow tree. A sad and lonely vision that stayed with me for some time. I was always too inclined to dwell on injustice and wrongs. But then, at that time, I still thought I had the power to change the world. On my bedroom wall I had a poster of  the famous 1850s Ophelia by Millais. 

Instead of sadness, I associate willows with catkins and the first signs of spring. Today is the Meteorological first day of spring. But in the Old Farmer’s Almanac spring doesn’t start until March 20th. I will be cutting back our willows today to make plant supports and arches. And the grey catkins will be a happy addition to my flower arrangements. 

Out of my potting shed to visit – Holme Pierrepont Hall

I’ve spent too much time online looking at snowdrop gardens – and wishing I had a helicopter to whizz me from Scotland to Cornwall.
They are all so tempting. But work, family commitments and lack of funds mean the grand tour will have to wait. 

When a friend told me about a garden that’s practically on my doorstep- Holme Pierrepont Hall, in Nottingham- I hardly had time to grab my coat. I was out of my  pottingshed  like a rocket.

 


Walls and a gazebo in the formal East Garden were built in the 17th century.

The south wall was demolished in the Georgian period to create parkland around the side of the house. The East Garden was abandoned after the First World War, and reclaimed  in the 1970s.


There are some glorious planting combinations. Silver stems of Rubus Golden Vale stand out against the dark yew background, with snowdrops as  groundcover. Everywhere there’s yew and box hedges and topiary.


My favourite view of the house. Dating back to the 1500s, the brickwork is some of the earliest in the county.


There’s some wonderfully gnarled trees in the garden. It’s still very much a family home- as well as a wedding and conference venue. We smiled at the evidence of children everywhere. There were swings in many trees and a home made zip wire in the woods. 


We followed direction arrows through the walled gardens and found these old espalier fruit trees. I love the way they refuse to die. Each one sports  a single vigorous branch.


I can spend any amount of time admiring old garden walls. We mulled over the different courses of bricks. Layers of history with a tale to tell.


The arrows took us to a recently cleared wood.  I decided that following a snowdrop-edged woodland path makes me very happy indeed. 


I took about 100 photos in the wood. It has such a peaceful  atmosphere. Almost like a secret garden. 


We followed the arrows back to the house and wandered through this  doorway, which leads to a pretty enclosed walled courtyard. We bought  tickets for a tour around the house which meant we could look through the windows down onto the parterre. Photos  can’t be taken in the house, which is understandable. It is a family home, after all. But I asked permission to take photos through the windows, which was allowed.


Looking down on the box parterre which is filled with lavender, pulmonaria and spring bulbs. The  boundary wall of the garden, and the house wall have a sort of unusual covered cloister walkway which contained potted camellia plants. 


There’s a good view of the church from the first floor windows.

This stonework being used as a bench looks like it came from the top of a Roman pillar. I wonder…..


We had  another walk round the East Garden before heading for home. This Prunus mume Beni-chidori was looking spectacular underplanted with snowdrops. The scent, reminiscent of fruit salad,  wafts around the whole garden. Quite strong for such a tiny flower.

Holme Pierrepont Hall  is open Sunday, Monday and Tuesdays in February and March 2-5pm. Also Sundays in April -apart from Easter Sunday. There’s a special Shakespeare in the Garden performance  on Thursday 15th June. 
I’m glad I’ve found Holme Pierrepont Hall -especially as it’s only 25 minutes drive from home. It makes me wonder how many other places are right on my doorstep, just waiting to be discovered. Perhaps I don’t need that helicopter after all. 

Have you “found” any gardens right on your doorstep? 

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