A Red And White Dahlia With An Exclamation Mark

Dahlia flower, close up

Gresgarth Hall has a walled kitchen garden where fruit trees and vegetables grow alongside flowers for cutting, depending on the season. I was about to describe the dahlia I photographed there as bicoloured, but could not ignore the flush of peach that gives it a sophisticated look. A tricolour, then. I know someone out there is going to want to grow this when they see it, but unless an identification appears in the comments below, I have no idea what it is. The orange blurs in the background are nasturtiums and the feathery foliage, nigella.  Continue reading

Pebble Mosaic Garden Paving At Gresgarth Hall, Lancashire

Part of the joy of visiting Gresgarth Hall Garden is the chance to admire so many well-sourced, premium quality garden accessories – all the bits and bats as we say up North. Each thoughtful touch beautifully enhances the space, from the frog decorated tap (faucet), to garden benches, gates, cloches, terracotta planters, greenhouses – even the plant labels. The lady of the house, Lady Arabella Lennox-Boyd, includes five gold medal-winning Chelsea Flower Show gardens amongst her credits as a landscape designer. So the stone mosaic walkways in Gresgarth’s Zodiac Garden are par for the course: superb modern interpretations of an ancient art.

Pebble paving design: lion and sun motif

The Zodiac Garden’s hand-made pebble mosaic pathway features astrological signs (in this case, Leo) representing family members.

Knowing that pebble floor designs of ancient Greece, Rome and Mesopotamia still exist today makes me wonder how many centuries these designs will live on the garden pathway.  Continue reading

Regular Random: Double Hellebore

Close up of a flower, held up to look inside

When you photograph a hellebore, you’re faced with some stark choices. Show the plant as it is and capture the natural essence of the bloom, or lift the flower to show the inside. It’s tempting to go for a macro shot like this one to reveal the beautiful pattern of veining but it gives me a weird feeling of misrepresentation; invasion, almost. It feels uncomfortably like peeking at a Victorian lady to get a glimpse of voluminous, lacy underwear.

A cluster of double hellebore flowers on sturdy stems

I would have said that this shot gives a better impression of the true character of the plant if the one in the back didn’t seem to be wearing a superman cape and keeping a watchful eye on a couple of conspirators in the foreground.  Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Seasons

Double hellebore

I called in at Gresgarth Hall last Sunday for snowdrop day. As expected, the snowdrops were looking fine, but what ought to have been a surprise is that so many hellebores were in full flower too. Hellebore day isn’t scheduled for another month, so it’s perhaps as well that their flowers are so long lasting.

Far from being surprised, I’d been eagerly anticipating the hellebores. After all, I’d have had to have been keeping my head in a bucket not to realise this season is a strange one. Since the start of 2016, gardeners the length and breadth of the country have been marveling out loud on social media at the range of flowers brought out early by the unseasonably warm weather we’ve had this winter.  Continue reading

Recipe for a Traditional English Cottage Garden

Described by the British Cottage Garden Society as an informal, abundant, diverse planting, this well-loved gardening style is always in fashion with ’real’ gardeners. If you’d like to create a cottage garden at home, follow this recipe. Add an extra dimension by including as many highly fragrant cultivars as you can from the plant lists below. Your challenge (should you choose to accept it) is to have no soil visible from year three onwards. Simple!

Essentials
  • Patch of earth (ideally cultivated and enriched for hundred years, though it’s never too late to start)
  • Some form of enclosure: hedge, stone walls, wooden fence
  • Path, winding
  • Garden gate

Continue reading