Saturday, May 19, 2012

A delightfully English garden!

When I first fell in love with gardens and plants as a teenager, I started visiting gardens and at the time thought I would have to ration myself or I would run out of new gardens to visit. Of course that was a ridiculous thought and there are so many gardens that I would like to explore and many others that I'd love to revisit but will I live long enough? Gardens opened under the National Garden Scheme tend to be a bit of a mixed bag. Some may be large, and well tended but actually have very little of interest. By contrast there are many others that are modest or even small but absolutely crammed with fascinating plants. Last year I visited one called Dumbleside, just outside Nottingham, found it to be an absolute delight and so visited again last Sunday. With our cold late spring it was interesting to see a slightly different picture with some plants in bloom this year that had faded last year and others which I had previously admired, still to bloom. The pictures I have used are a  mixture from the current visit and last year's but will I think, give a good idea of this garden.

Mixed border - simple but effective
Same border last year with Alliums in bloom

Another view - this year again - no alliums!
It is unashamedly a plantsman's gardens (no apologies for the sexist terminology- the owner is male) and within two acres of undulating land there are thousands of different species of good garden plants. It's a very traditional English garden, with a terrace, mown lawns, mature trees and shrubs and a long herbaceous border. The style of maintenance is loose and when I say this I don't mean it's untidy. However plants have been allowed to gently spread, intermingle and seed themselves amongst other species. As you walk round the garden you have to be careful not to stand on a choice plant that has seeded itself in the edge of a footpath and so on. But it is this serendipity that gives the garden much of its character; so many of the plant associations are probably chance but the end result is superb and many of the combinations well worth repeating. There is a long mixed border planted with a curious mix of unusual plants interspersed with familiar species, self seeded forget-me-nots, honesty and Bowles' golden grass.
Millium effusum 'Aureum' & Myosotis
Lunaria annua and Doronicum

Lunaria annua 'Alba' - looks wonderful against the dark green yew
Arum italicum 'Marmoratum' with Bergenia

Brunnera 'Jack Frost' with the foliage of an Astilbe

Clematis 'Multi Blue (I think?)
Alpine phlox and damp ferns - an odd mix but behind the phlox is a drop into the bog garden
White honesty and the vivid yellow of Smyrnium perfoliatum (Thought it was a Euphorbia!)
Thermopsis rhombifolia

The highlight of the garden is a deep gully containing a small stream that bisects the garden. At the top of the stream there is a tree sized Cornus alternifolia Variegata, probably the biggest example of this I have ever seen. In the broad area underneath there is a colourful matrix of Iris, primulas ,Trollius and many ferns. A footpath crosses the stream (no bridge-just jump - who heard of health and safety!) and then follows the banks of the gulley. This walk is shaded by mature trees and here there are just so many fascinating woodland plants.

Looking down the dell last year with the Cornus alternifolia Variegata

Iris sibirica in full bloom last year

The bog garden last year

 Much of the woodland walk is just foliage but what leaves! Who could ever bore with such spectacular effects as these?

Tiarella of some sort and unfurling fern

Paris polyphylla

Ligularia 'Britt Marie Crawford' - a guess?

Asarum europaeum
Rodgersia 'Irish Bronze' maybe?

Halfway round this woodland walk I chanced upon a man digging up some offsets from the variegated lily of the valley. Fortunately I hesitated from making a citizen's arrest by identifying the man with a trowel as the owner! Once again an example of gardeners generosity as he dug up some requested plants. This is one of those gardens that you look round, then take a second look and more photos. You loiter taking in the beauty of the garden and then reluctantly leave........ till next time!


  1. Thank you!~Wonderful garden! So many stunning plant combinations! Love Arum and bergenia, for example.

    1. Yes - it works well! I love Bergenias but some gardeners can't abide them!

  2. Ian,

    A lovely post of an inspiring garden.

    Since you ask for help with some of the names ‘I’ll tell you of a few that I know in this English Country Garden’.

    The Arum is probably Arum italicum 'Marmoratum'. ‘Maculatum’ would be ‘spotted’.

    The ‘Euphorbia’ is Smyrnium perfoliatum or Perfoliate Alexanders. It is a freely self sowing biennial or short lived perennial. It is in the Apiaceae and as is so often the case in that family, stored seed is often not viable. But once you have flowered it you would have to try hard to get rid of it from the garden!

    The ‘lupin’ is a Thermopsis, T. rhombifolia var. montana is the commonest in cultivation, but I’m not sure I could tell it apart from T. villosa.

    Your ‘Trillium?’ is an evil question. The plant is a Paris [possibly quadrifolia]. And the whole genus ‘Paris’ has been shown to be inseparable from Trillium on genetic markers. They will merge eventually, presumably under the name ‘Paris’. But then you knew that which is why you left the provocative ‘?’ there.

    The glossy kidney shaped leaves look like Asarum europaeum. Worth growing for the leaves, the flowers are dull and usually under the leaves, but such a beguiling leaf!

    Thanks for sharing the garden


    1. Chad - many thanks for the identifications. I think I have corrected all errors and filled the gaps. The 'Trillium' I saw at Chelsea today and is indeed Paris polyphylla and with a name like that I can't resist saying that its a great plant for filling gaps........ sorry!

  3. Thanks for the visit to some place cool and moist, not to mention all the interest. Needed that! All textures I don't often see, let alone the change from one year to the next...very nice contrast worth studying in my own garden or other gardens.

    1. Today the weather has changed from the cool moist weather we have had for the last couple of months to very warm and sunny - such a change in a day!

  4. What a lovely garden Ian, all the photos are a visual delight!