Tag Archive: water garden


WP_20150909_12_43_35_ProFollowing our ‘Hebridean Hop’ we went on to stay for a week in Northumberland with 6 old friends, in a house we’d been to before (we rent out a house for a week in different locations every year – this was our sixth consecutive holiday together). It is usually a stay involving (too) much food, drink as well as trips to interesting places and walks on beaches and in the countryside.

On one of the days we travelled south towards Morpeth to a National Trust property I’d wanted to visit for some time- in fact the last time we were here, but for a mistake in reading the road signs, we would have visited then. Anyway, despite a couple of wrong turns this time (including using Satnav) we eventually made it.

Wallington Hall was gifted by Sir Charles Philips Trevelyan, Socialist MP and ‘illogical Englishman’. The Hall features huge pre-Raphaelite paintings around the Central Hall, beautiful furniture, treasured collections and quirky curiosities; and it was great seeing volunteers baking in the kitchens (free samples) and on hand to explain things. I also loved seeing some old letters and newspapers out on display- these added a real sense of time and place to the house. There was also a well crafted exhibition in one room on utopias. My own contribution to the personal ‘visions’ wall?- ‘Globalisation= collective responsibility’

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The 13,000-acre estate was too big to explore in one day, but we made sure to see the hidden walled garden, nestled in the woods.  It was beloved by Lady Mary Trevelyan and remains a beautiful haven whatever the season.  Entering through Neptune’s Gate, you sweep down a stone staircase, by the Mary Pool and soak up the tranquil atmosphere; this is special place for our friends John and Ann, who, along with Richard and Ann, were with us on the day.

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We wandered past colourful borders, which because of its northerly location, gave late summer ‘oomph’, even though it was September when we visited. The planting combinations in the herbaceous borders and further afield in the walled garden, are a triumph. This was once a productive kitchen garden but is no almost entirely ornamental. It slopes gently and a natural stream meanders through it, which creates a wide range of planting and design opportunities. There is also an elevated terrace walkway with a splendid glasshouse to one side, full of tender specimens and beautifully presented.

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This is definitely another of those ‘Garden of Smiles’- almost at every turn there is a feature or planting group that just works.

WP_20150909_12_25_57_ProFurther information: National Trust website

Old School Gardener

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WP_20150901_13_09_36_ProHaving returned to Oban from four days on the Isle of Mull, our second ‘hop’ involved a drive down the Argyll coast line towards our next ferry which would take us across to Arran.

We had plenty of time, so I was on the lookout for somewhere to stop for lunch. Half an hour’s drive and we noticed a Scottish National Trust sign to a nearby garden- the perfect solution.

Arduaine Garden is a 20 acre tranquil green oasis on the south slope of the Arduaine peninsula which overlooks Loch Melfort. It is a coastal garden that rolls down towards the sea and is very reminiscent of many such gardens you find in Cornwall; another area blessed by the warming effects of the North Atlantic Drift.

‘a horticultural tour around the temperate world with a collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, magnolias, Blue Tibetan poppies, giant Himalayan lilies and Chatham Island forget-me-nots’

Though the weather was cloudy, we enjoyed our stroll (and lunch) through the wooded slopes and especially the wonderful water garden, with it’s range of habitats and some lovely ‘natural’ streams and ponds with ‘close up’ paths where you can see water lilies, primulas and other marginal plants.

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The garden was begun on a bare promontory in 1898 by James Arthur Campbell and continued by two succeeding generations of his family. In 1965 Arduaine House was sold and became the Loch Melfort Motor Inn, later the Loch Melfort Hotel. The garden was sold in 1971 to Edmund and Harry Wright who in turn passed the garden on, as a gift, to the National Trust for Scotland in 1992.

As the headland is open to all the winds that blow, the garden hides behind a shelterbelt that keeps out the worst of the wind and salt spray and this (along with the North Atlantic Drift), allows many tender plants to be grown.

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Arduaine is well-known in rhododendron circles for its wonderful collection of species and hybrids, many of which are considered tender elsewhere and grow largely under the canopy of mature Japanese larch. The garden has a great variety of flowering shrubs and trees, bamboos, ferns (including tree ferns), a large perennial collection in many mixed borders. So, the plants come from all over the world, but in particular from East Asia and South America, and in addition it has native mosses and ferns growing everywhere.

I was sorry to see that the gardens have been struck by an outbreak of the pathogen Phytophthora ramorum (‘Sudden Oak Death’). Found among the garden’s larch trees P. ramorum had previously been present in the garden at a low level in the shrub plantings and the Trust had been working with the Scottish Government over a number of years to control it. Unfortunately, despite these efforts, the fungus-like pathogen has now extended its range of host plants to include the garden’s larch trees.

Despite this setback, apparently there is no threat to the garden as a whole and the main areas of the garden are unaffected. However, in the longer-term, a new ‘vision’ for Arduaine Garden will be developed, which will set out objectives and planting regimes 20 years hence. These should be less susceptible to P. ramorum and better adapted to climate change, as well as carrying on Arduaine’s fine tradition as a ‘plant hunter’s garden’, which has continually evolved over the last century.

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Old School Gardener

 

 

 

 

 

So, four days on and we needed to move onto stage two of our Hebridean Hop– the ferry back to Oban and the long drive along the Mull of Kintyre to catch our next ferry to the Isle of Arran. But not before stumbling across a lovely seaside garden en route- more of that in my next post.

Old School Gardener

WP_20150814_13_52_49_ProAs you may have picked up, I’ve been in Portugal again  recently. As well as visiting some old favourites, we ventured north to the old capital of the country, Coimbra (more on this in later posts), and on our way back to Lisbon stopped off at a wonderful historical site called Conimbriga. This site, a few miles south of Coimbra, was the Romans’ capital while they were here in Portugal, some two millenia ago.

OK, I know that this blog is supposed to be about gardens and gardening. But I occasionally feature something that is only loosely connected (if at all), just to add a bit of variety. And in truth, there is a link to gardening here, as you’ll see later.

This extensive site displays the bones of an important Roman settlement and includes some sensitive reconstruction to help you get the scale and proportions of the place- the recreation of the Forum is particularly impressive.

And the other immediately remarkable thing is the wealth of mosaic floors on show, some open to the air, others carefully protected under a large sheltering canopy.

But the really noteworthy feature- well I think so- is the re-creation of the Fountain Gardens, including (for 50 cents a go) the chance to see the way the fountains might have embellished this calm, sheltered space set amid the bustle of the wider settlement.

After touring the open site, it was something of a relief (from the sun) to get inside the nearby Museum, which helps add further interpretation to the site and houses a range of beautiful artefacts discovered here.

Old School Gardener

 

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