Saturday, 27 August 2016

Arley Hall

Arley Hall is a country house in the village of Arley, Cheshire, England, about 4 miles south of Lymm and 5 miles north of Northwich. It is home to the owner, Viscount Ashbrook and his family.

The present Hall stands on the same site as the first house built by the family 1469. The Hall standing was built between 1832 and 1845 by Rowland Egerton-Warburon to the design of George Latham, a Nantwich architect. 

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So, what at first appears to be a grand Tudor House is in fact a Victorian 'homage'.  

We were visiting the hall and garden as part of (my husband's birthday) overnight  stay in a hotel in Lymm.  Being mid  August the English summer was in full flow with a warm day and thoroughly grey skies!

If you like Victorian stately piles this is certainly one to float your boat.  Being a dyed in the wool neo-classical Georgian I can't say it was my cup of tea.

That said, the ceilings in every room were remarkable and the grand hall impressive to say the least.  I can't show you the interior, of course, as usual photography is not allowed inside the house.  It is a family home (the same family for 550 years) and still used occasionally.  I was once told the ban on photos is an insurance issue (?) The fact the house is still something of a home adds some appeal as it looks to be 'lived in' rather than frozen in aspic.

The gardens don't have a feel of a grand designed landscaped but more of a collected hotchpotch of gardens that have been added in over the years by various occupants.  Again, this is all a matter of taste as to whether that makes the landscape a better or worse one .....  sadly, for me it is just not cohesive enough to flow nicely from one space to another.

Arley is especially famous for the long border.  It was one of the earliest of its kind and is said to have set the style for the English long border - simply crammed with every plant imaginable.  This is one small section ......

Turn around and there is more... and more .... and more

A little corner that I loved was the tea cottage.  Imagine having your staff setting up a dainty tea for you here on a summer afternoon.

The vegetable garden is to die for and you are overwhelmed with lettuce envy as you step inside.  It certainly beats my (ex) three six foot long raised beds.  I often wonder where the produce goes in these vast estates.

Yet again though, I still found the area odd as it has a tall hedged area and arbour at its heart - all very formal and something I though you would expect to find in a landscape with a great vista laid out in front of it to be admired from your seat.  The kitchen garden, though lovely, somehow doesn't seem to warrant it. 

The house and garden is still privately owned and it costs £10 for seniors to go in to all the areas.  I suggest you google it if planning a trip as there are various charges according to your age and where you want to go.

Click here for more photos:  Arley Hall

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Take a punt

I like to 'rescue' sick plants!  Strange, but true - not only do I get the satisfaction of having brought something back from the brink of death but they only cost me pennies.  It is always worth the gamble of something making it or not - they rarely fail with a bit of TLC.

This lovely passion flower has three six foot stems and over twenty buds to come out (more to come after that no doubt).  It was a sad little thing in a tiny pot for 49p back in the Spring.  I had bought my friend one for her birthday at the usual sort of price from a reputable nursery which didn't look fantastic for its price and has struggled to do anything as yet.  A short time after giving that away I thought how much I wanted a passion flower for myself and I saw this one.

At the same time as buying the passion flower the shop was selling what appeared to be two dead sticks for a pound - not properly labelled - could have said magnolias?  I genuinely thought these might be consigned to the rubbish bin but I faithfully stuck each of their badly damaged hairy little roots into a pot of their own where they remained all winter as two dead sticks.  Spring arrives and - and Bingo! - I have two very promising magnolias (????).  

I have no idea what variety they are so they could be anything from six feet to thirty feet tall and wide when mature.  Looking now at the stick and the size of the leaf it is reasonable to think they are common old magnolia soulangia, so they are the big ones!!   I am seventy and they take twenty years to maturity so may not be a bother to me when they swamp the garden.  In truth I do have the right spot for one of them.  The other may just reside in a pot for a few years and I will think again then.  Meanwhile whoopee-do, three lives saved; total cost, £1.49.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Short back and sides

I showed you some photos of my lovely fluffy border a couple of days ago - all four of them were something like that at that time.  Eventually they start to 'go over' and look untidy and some plants bully out the others so this is a good time to give it a judicious chop.

letting the corner breath again

Two corners have eight feet high thalictrum in them which is fabulous when it is in full flood but they had finished flowering and even though they have pretty seed heads they always swamp out other things around them so it was time for them to go.

neat and tidy again

all these plants only went in a couple of months ago so there is some growing to do yet but it is promising

I cut back all the thalictrum (meadow-rue), oriental poppies, granny bonnets and dead-headed the roses by cutting them back quite a few inches.  I then lightly fed the garden with some 7:7:7 national Growmore.  These are granules and easy to chuck a handful here and there a couple of times in the growing season - once in late Spring and once in late summer.

If you are lucky with this chop and feed and weather permitting we often get a second flush of most things.

I also did my usual mid month slug pelleting - a bit late I know but I wasn't here to do it on time.  I tied in some bits and bobs and basically did a close inspection of this and that to check all is well.  This hour or so is time well spent if you can give yourself up to it round about this time of year.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

ECO Plant Holder

I thought I would share a nice find with you.  I got these on sale at a silly price (£1.99???) from Wyevale Garden centre but worth keeping your eye open for as they are proving very handy.

I just Googled them and you can get them for around a fiver (three in a pack) from various places.  They store flat and therefore easily, they won't rust or rot(?) and are made from recycled plastic..... coffee cups I think.

They are designed to fit in horizontal fencing without additional support.  They can also be screwed in place (two holes in top tab) or hung on a hook or a nail in a wall or fence.

I have vertical lapped fencing so it is no use for me in its primary form.  I also don't want fixed pots in fixed places so I lob mine around where I want things using 'S' hooks over the top of the fence.
waiting for its pot

brightens up a bit of empty fence

smells lovely where I walk past

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Botanical Garden, St John's Newfoundland, 16 July 2016

When we visited my son and family in St Johns in Newfoundland we went to visit a gem of a Botanical Garden there.

herb garden


it has a large lake and woodlands

lovely peonies


a woven arbour

this small green plant was a solid impenetrable carpet

detail of the plant

I have a passion for lichen and air plants and the like

another minute very pretty ground cover

the official plant for the province - a pitcher plant

great idea - pots threaded on a rebar and then set in concrete

pretty arrangements of plants

Monday, 1 August 2016

Wollerton Old Hall

Usually I struggle to find a favourite this or that but I do have a favourite garden and that is Wollerton Old Hall.  I have been lucky enough to see many of the major gardens and places such as Hidcote and Kiftsgate and many others and most are just overwhelmingly lovely but for some reason Wollerton has my heart.

I 'discovered' it many years ago in its 'infancy' when it was just a private garden open to the public now and then and I have seen it mature and develop further and further right down into the copse at the bottom.

This time I hadn't been for about three years and the change is palpable.  It is much 'bigger'.  The planting that is... the plants have grown and matured and have packed every little inch.  I love it only slightly less, but the doubt is there.  It had (has?) very defined rooms with glimpses long and short from one to another this seems to perform at a lower key when the planting is almost swamping you and I think that is a shame as it seemed to be the key to its particular charm.

It is now fairly busy with visitors and I am (unreasonably) greedy in wanting it to myself.  One of my very best visits there (last time) was in the rain.  The garden took on a whole new face and was almost just mine.  This time I bobbed around with others and grudgingly shared it.

Some pictures here and you can go to the album if you want to see more.  Click here:  Wollerton Old Hall

there used to be a rose and  climbing fuschia (Lady Boothby) on this wall

all about glimpses

view to the copse