Tag Archives: Teasel

RETURN TO BRYAN’S GROUND

REVISITING A FAVOURITE ROMANTIC GARDEN IN MIDSUMMER  – HAVE WE MISSED THE LATE SPRING MAGIC?

APPLWE TREE AVENUWI have just returned from a works outing (well an end of project trip with my garden design partner, Helen ) to the Welsh Marches.   Top of our list of gardens to visit was a return to Bryan’s Ground near Presteigne in Herefordshire – three acres of intimate garden rooms and arboretum around a yellow painted 1912 Arts and Crafts House. The garden at Bryan’s Ground has been developed for the last twenty years by David Wheeler (publisher of the distinguished gardening quarterly, Hortus ) and artist and garden designer, Simon Dorrell.

The approach to Bryan’s Ground is elegant but initially subdued – a slightly after the party feeling.  The Amelanchier leading to the ‘Parking for Motors’ is in its most restrained phase – post blossom and bronze leaf and pre autumn fire:

Iamelanchier avenue

The Amelanchier lamarkii lined drive – in its quietest phase

The front of the house, cloaked in Hydrangia petiolaris, and protected by solemn heavyweight sentries of giant, shaggy Prunus lusitanica, is looking shadowy and ripe almost for a the opening of a darker fairy tale:

LUSH LUSITANICA

And the famous grid of 25 different apple tree which emerge from mown paths, each tree surrounded by a private sea of blue anemone, followed by Pheasant’s Eye narcissus, followed by  show-stoppingly dense planting of the slender, pale blue Iris sibirica ‘Perry’s Blue’  – is now quietly lush.

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Drifts of Iris sibirica ‘Papillon’ – image from patient gardener.wordpress.com

apple tee grassBut it does not take long to warm us up. Looking more closely, the planting around the apple trees is now laced with pale pink field geraniums and softly fluttering tall grasses are now taking over as quieter, paler stars amongst the stiffer stems of the flowered iris.

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There is a handsome new entrance archway to frame the arrival to the house via the orchard :IMG_4343

Entrance into the front garden at Bryan’s Ground

The archway has been built, beautifully, sturdily in the same handsome Dutch/Herefordshire vernacular as the ‘dovecote’ which lures you to enter the main part of the garden.

view sulking house

The Dovecote

The Dovecote has it all – which is when you remember why this is a garden of inspirational confidence and charm. It is a focal point from and axis into three sides of the garden  – each with its own flavour – and what is most covetable, perhaps, is that on the first floor there is a small dining room with idyllic views onto the Welsh Marches beyond.

The dovecote takes you through to a parade of formal topiary (albeit sweetly coexistng with leggy pink geraniums which lounge about freely throughout the garden) and acts as a handsome backdrop to the dense green of the yew and the softly planted steps – about to be set ablaze by Crocosmia

longer view side 2side two sulking houseThe steps here are about to be set ablaze by Crocosmia

And then you are finally let loose into the principal ‘Sunk Garden’

BEST TEASEL AND MAIN TERRACE

The Sunk Garden

For a moment I look back to see the dovecote nestling happily in stands of campanula and draped in roses.  No need to worry about missing the iris moment – which is brilliant and absolutely worth making a pilgrimage to see – the new midsummer fairy tale version of Bryan’s Ground is just unfolding.

side 3 sulking houseThe Dovecote with roses and Campanula

And I have two new loves in my life: the statuesque pointiness of fresh green teasel (Dipsacus fullonum):

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Self seeded teasel and foxgloves against topiary hawthorn

– and the endlessly forgiving romantic haze of quantities of green fennel:

sulking house in sea fennel

The Dovecote nestling in a haze of topiary and fennel

TEASEL LAVENDAR FENNEL

fennel, teasel and lavender

stchys daisy and fennelGreen Fennel, Stachys byzantina and daisies

The wild self-seeding generosity of these two plants works so well, of course, because of the the dark solidity of the topiary it is dancing between:

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Green fennel dancing between structural forms of hebe and yew

Every so often there are joyous rockets of super high foxgloves in the mix:

lightness of quicksilver

And throughout the garden the silvery, deliciously scented shrub Elaeagnus ‘Quicksilver’ is planted to add contrast and a shimmering brightness to the palette of greens:

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Elaeagnus ‘Quicksilver’

In one corner of the Sunk Garden there is a wonderful rather medieval monster-head wall of yew with a wonky sliver of an entrance to tempt you furhter in:

fab monster head opening

Above all this is the generous loggia where you can sit and eat spiced apple cake and idly imagine for a moment that this is your own. The path back to the Dovecote is splendidly narrow with overspilling plants:longer view side 3

 Or you might choose to have your tea under a voluptuous swoop of pineapple broom (Cytisus battandieri) whose vivid yellow flowers are almost intoxicatingly pineapple scented:

PINEAPPLE AND BENCH

Bench under gorgeous headily scented pineapple broom

And then the garden is calm again. Lime Alley on June 23rd 2014 is a shaded walk flanked by a quietly frothing carpet of Alchemilla mollis:

lime avenue

Lime Alley

In the spring, Lime Alley is singing with orange tulips, acid yellow Euphorbia polychrome and rich yellow azaleas but now it is calm and ordered, a perfectly judged break between the exhilarating Sunk Garden and the other midsummer rooms to come.

What really impresses me as I move around the garden is the simplicity of the planting – large quantities of astrantia and Geranium psilostemon:

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Geranium psilostemon and astrantia

IMG_4271knautia macedonica and pink geranium

There are lovely walks through shades of pink with classic columns of yew for structure:long view psilostemon yew

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–  And yet there is a constant supply of surprise and invention too.

There are sudden bursts of a new colour to keep you on your toes:SURPRISE BLUE AND CLARET

Aconitum and Cotinus amongst the pinks

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Angelica gigas and Cotinus

A gently shabby archway of recycled materials adds a layer of quirky grandeur to the cottage garden planting:

home made arch

Archway of recycled materials

And then as you turn the corner, the palette changes completely.  FIrst to rich dusky blues and purples:

ACANTHUS AND CLEMATIS

Acanthus and clematisIMG_4287

And round again to a corridor of pale yellows and silver
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Phlomis russeliana a key plant in this corridor of yellow and silver

There is the cool quiet of the Canal:
dog canalThe Canal

and the wonderful formal garden with pool – first glimpsed tantalisingly, of course, through an opening in a hedge:

ARCH TO POND

Pond glimpsed through hedge opening

Again we have missed the further swathes of Iris sibirica and what must have been a delicate knee-high forest of aquilegia in May. But the scene, here immaculately framed by a stilted hornbeam hedge and viewed from a perfectly place bench, is wonderfully restful.

POND THRU STILITSThe pond seen through the elegant limbs of a stilted hornbeam hedge

I love the license a plant has to self seed in this garden:

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carpet of Aquilegia seedlings under stilted hornbeam hedge

As we move away from the garden and enter the Cricket Wood – a still growing collection of specimen trees and shrubs started in 2000 – we are aware again of the intensity of a particular moment in an area of planting. In early spring there are hundreds of bulbs in the woodland, later scented walks of viburnums and the fragrant yellow azalea, Rhododendron luteum and many of the trees are specially selected for the strength of their autumn colour. But for now the palette is subtle and beginning to fade and bleach into high summer.

The transition from garden to woodland is marked by a lovely tree-fringed area dominated by a stunningly beautiful Cornus tree – I think it is ‘Norman Hadden – with pink tinged white bracts. The Cornus is underplanted with swathes of palest pink astrantia and dashes of richer pink Martagon lily:CLOSE UP MARTAGON COTONEASTER CORNUS CLOSE UP

Cornus – probably  ‘Norman Hadden’ HELENGenerous swathes of palest pink astrantia in dappled shade

CLOSE UP ASTRANTAIA MARTAGONAstrantia and Martagon Lily

Within the wood itself there is a perfect tin-roofed house which looks increasingly fit for a fairytale the further you wander away from it and deeper into the woods:IMG_4414

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The long softly planted avenues will take you to treasures such as a fine crumple-leaved medlar:

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a gorgeous Cornus kousa var. chinensis:

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and a cloud of light-catching bronze cotinus amongst its towering silvery neighbours:

COTONEASTER IN WOOD

Much grown since the last time we visited is The Mezquita  – a grid of bird cherry trees (Prunus avium) inspired by the onyx and marble columns of the the Mezquita in Cordoba. This had looked rather stiff and organised when we visited a few years ago but it is now a wonderful sturdy forest of slim-trunked trees which frame the view in every direction and offers a delightful place to sit:

IMG_4427The Bird Cherry ‘Mezquita’

CLOSE UP CHERRIES

 ripening fruit of the Bird Cherry

IMG_4440An enchanting place to sit

The planting around Strongacre Pool at the edge of the Cricket Wood is particularly lovely.  Papery pale and delicate with a boathouse to add to your dreams.

BOAT HOUSE POND VIEW

The Cabin at Strongacre LakeSOFT PALETTE BY PNDThe delicate palette of plants at the water’s edge

As you walk away from the boat house the little building seems to be floating in a sea of dusky pink grass.

BOAT HOUSE

The Cabin at Strongacre Lake

I should not have worried for a moment that missing the irises would mean missing the magic of Bryan’s Ground.IMG_4433









STARRY AUTUMN DAYS

LOW LIGHT, RAINBOW LEAVES AND JEWEL-LIKE BERRIES IN AN ENGLISH GARDEN
FIG 2

At Great Dixter (http://greatdixter.co.uk) clusters of tight, unripened figs glow like little light bulbs on naked branches against the timber barn.  A brilliant, self contained symbol of autumn on a November day.

There is an uncertain edge to the mix of fresh full-colour plants and the fading crispy hues of others.

Here clumps of Nerine bowdenii provide bursts of bright pink against a more subdued palette – they work because the clumps are repeated regularly along the length of the path.

nerine

More Nerines, at the base of the lower terrace, loving their place in the sun with garlands of Erigeron karvinskianus.  This is November!

GARLANDS

It is a classic and brilliantly reliable combination.   The Nerines take over easily from the richer red of Centranthus ruber which billows over walls and steps in the early summer.

centranthus erigeron

The real stars of the autumn show are plants which triumph when back lit by the early winter light.  The common teasel (Dispascus fullonum) is a perfect example of this – an architectural plant which will grow happily from seed – and which will self seed happily when established.  It catches the light brilliantly.

TEASEL TWO

Here against the cherry-red seed capsules of the wonderful Euonymus europaeus, the teasels with their late afternoon haloes give the planting an intoxicating ethereal quality.

teasel and euonymys

And then there are the berries.  Worth taking note now and thinking of planting for hips or berries next year.

One of the greatest sources of wisdom on the best plant choices for autumn colour is John Massey of Ashwood Nurseries in the West Midlands (http://www.ashwoodnurseries.com). Massey is a self taught nurseryman who has been a plant collector, plant breeder and passionate gardener for forty years.  He gives specialist talks throughout the year – which include a visit to his private garden.  Absolutely a pilmrimage worth making

You know you are in the presence of the real thing when even his house is draped in a starry chain mail of yellow and orange foliage with the rainbow leaves of Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Worplesdon’ AGM falling so knowingly onto the deep green holly hedge.starry house

liquidamber on holly

And there is real golddust to come:  when John tells you that the best yellow crab apple is Malus ‘Comtesse de Paris’ -an elegant tree with pearl-like golden fruit which hang down from slender red stalks

comtesse yellow

and that the better known Malus ‘Golden Hornet’ is no contest because its fruits turn brown so fast, it is the sort of rare and generous advice that can transform a garden.  His other favourite crab apples are the long lasting ‘Red Sentinel’ and ‘Crittenden’, the larger red fruiting ‘Evereste’ – and ‘Sugar Time’ with really tiny berries.  Perhaps his favourite of all is ‘Indian Magic’ (below) which has dark pink blossom and deep red fruit on long stems which become brighter orange as the winter progresses.

indian magic

One of the prettiest crab apples we see in his garden is Malus ‘Toringo’ – the Japanese crab – a small, semi-weeping tree with fragrant flowers that are pink in bud but fade to white, and gorgeous butter yellow leaves in autumn and tiny blood red fruit.

malusAs we are guided round the garden the conversation dances from Parthenocissus quinquefolia ‘Red Wall’ – a Virginia Creeper with particularly shiny green leaves in summer which turn a sensational flaming red, Euonymus alata compacta – the most reliable spindle for bright crimson leaf colour in Autumn and Hydrangea paniculata ‘Great Star’ which he was originally given by the late Princess Sturdza of the Jardin du Vasterival (http://vasterival.fr ) in Normandy and for whose support he feels indebted.  ‘Great Star’ is the opposite of the worryingly, almost permanent, plumpness of one of the new super breed of hydrangeas such as  Hydrangea arborescens ‘Incrediball’  – a wonderfully graceful hydrangea with clusters of fresh, white star-shaped flowers from late summer to autumn.

greatstar                  Photo by Ashwood Nurseries

I am smitten by the violet-blue Aster ‘Little Carlow’ – which I have previously classified as just too brash and intense for the autumn garden – here looking airy and elegant amongst the bleached sketchy sheaves of grasses.

aster and grassMy favourite moment of all is when John stops to pick a tall, soft bottle-brush stem of Actaea matsumura ‘Elstead Variety’ from an elegant dancing group in full flower. We are all surprised and delighted by the intensity of its perfume.  actaea group cropThe Actaea are growing in brilliant combination alongside Euonymus bugneamus ‘Fireflame’ – which has a seductive limp quality to its milky green leaves and gorgeous perky apricot coloured seed heads –

salmon euonymus bungeaanus fireflame and the sculptural, ruby-polished foliage of Cornus kousa ‘Miss Satomi’ – one of the finest small dogwoods which will have rich pink flower bracts in early summerMISS SATOMI

Important to remember, of course,  that where acres of intricate planting are sadly not a possibility –   just a single source of brightly coloured berries or rich autumn leaf colour can spectacularly transform a space.

Here at the entrance to Gravetye Manor, (http://www.gravetyemanor.co.uk),  former home of eminent Victorian ‘wild’ gardener, William Robinson and now my favourite country house hotel – I love the rough simplicity of this planting of Rosa moyesii on either side of the entrance steps.rosa moyesii gravetyerosa moyesii close upBack in Camberwell a neighbour’s Cotinus ‘Grace’, has been pruned into a small tree which takes your breath away with the richness of its colour on a grey November day.cotinus camberwellclose up cotinus camberwellShifting down a scale, a Hosta sieboldiana var. elegans in a pot on my terrace suddenly hurtles – caramelises almost – into winter.  Don’t forget to stop and look.hosta 1hosta 2