Azaleas In Flower

Orange azalea in flower at the edge of woodland
Dorothy Clive’s woodland garden in spring

My sweetheart calls Azaleas ‘party girls’, because they burst into flower, divert our attention from everything around them, drop their flowers and then leave things looking a bit boring. His words, not mine! But while they last… Continue reading “Azaleas In Flower”

Winter Walk Around Bodnant Garden in Wales

Bodnant House dwarfed by a large cedar tree

Only last week I was bemoaning the lack of a Tardis to transport me to a snow-covered Bodnant Garden, near Tal-y-Cafn, Conwy, Wales. The universe did not send me a Tardis, but it did the next best thing. A friend asked us to check out the place his family came from – Dolgellau – and Bodnant just happened to be on our way home.

While the snow in the garden had long gone, heavy white shawls on the Snowdonia mountain range opposite gave Bodnant a wintry feeling. The 130 acres of garden give plenty of scope for walking: you really need some form of season ticket* to make the most of it all. Continue reading “Winter Walk Around Bodnant Garden in Wales”

In Praise Of Winter Gardens, Plus A Tip Or Two

Wooden bench amongst winter plants and grasses
Bodnant Garden’s colourful winter garden

I’m a big fan of winter gardens that make the most of plants that look good when herbaceous borders are expanses of mulch-covered dirt. Trees with white trunks such as this Betula utilis var jacquemontii (Himalayan birch) often feature, together with evergreens, light-reflecting grasses, red stemmed Cornus (dogwood), Skimmia, Hamamelis (witch hazel), flowering heather, hellebores, Bergenia, Cyclamen and winter flowering bulbs.

Plants like this seem to shrug off winter weather, but the current cold spell means that the hardiness of plants of all types is being tested in many UK and American gardens.

Some gardeners go to great lengths to keep tender plants alive, wrapping their pots up, covering them with some form of plant blanket, or moving them indoors. Others will only plant what grows. Many of us are somewhere in-between, willing to offer our plant treasures a helping hand if conditions are unusually bad, provided we know what to do.

Overhead view of a pot protected from the frost
A pot of bulbs wrapped in burlap, with a double layer of netting to deter squirrels

Continue reading “In Praise Of Winter Gardens, Plus A Tip Or Two”

Rosa ‘Scepter’d Isle’ at Bodnant Garden

Pink rose with chalice shaped blooms

Rosa ‘Scepter’d Isle’ caught my eye during our visit to Bodnant Garden in Wales this week. The garden opens until 8 o’clock in the evening some Wednesdays during the summer (please check details online before visiting) so we could arrive fashionably late and still enjoy a (very) warm evening stroll.

We had planned to go a week or so earlier – given the choice, I prefer to catch the roses slightly before their peak when they are at their freshest, before the garden has time to need dead-heading. Winds gusting at 35-40mph put paid to that idea. Although the rose garden was a touch further on, it was still looking lovely, with rambling roses in flower on the many pergolas.   Continue reading “Rosa ‘Scepter’d Isle’ at Bodnant Garden”