Disaster update and cobbles complete

The leaking pond

In a previous blog I mentioned that the one of our ponds had developed a leak! The pond was built about 19 years ago so I expected a fair amount of silt.16_08_08_3150 “Do I really have to get into this?”16_08_08_3153“Who planting all these waterlilies?”16_08_08_3155“That’s better we can actually see some water now”DSC01280“OK, where did you say the fish were?”16_08_08_3157“That silt will be a great mulch for the garden”16_08_09_3161Temporary store for the water lilies which will need to be watered frequently.16_08_09_3160And we found some treasure! Having dug down six inches below the liner and previous pond floor level we found a midden of old bottles, perfume, drink medicine etc.

We did manage to catch a number of fish, newts and frogs and they now have a new home in one of our other ponds. So the next stage will be to put the pond back together, a subject for a later blog.

The contractor doing this work is David Greaves


At last I can announce that the moss from between the cobbles has been removed. See Yew balls,cobbles and creepers16_08_26_3309As you can see it is quite a large area and Diane has spent at least 30 hours doing it by hand!DSC01281The  tools for the job. She tells me it will need doing again in 10 years. Quite a job!

Autumn in the garden

It continues to be dry and hot which has resulted in autumn coming early to parts of the garden. Some of this has been removed together with the errant weeds although we do like to leave some of the seed heads for the birds.16_08_18_3245

Gardening Hours
This week Total since June 19th Average per week
12 171 17

Two very different garden visits

A Capability Brown landscape updated by Piet Oudolf, Nigel Dunnett and  Tom Stuart-Smith sounds like a garden worth seeing. Put this together with a “Country House Rescue” project and that formed the basis for a trip arranged by the Leicestershire & Rutland Gardens Trust. The trip was to Heath House and Trentham Gardens.

Heath House

The estate was financially non viable and was a candidate in Country House Rescue featuring Ruth Watson in 2010. It is now in the process of being transformed into a wedding venue. The surrounding 125-acre parkland includes an old walled kitchen garden, former stables and a delightful Regency orangery that overlooks a sunken rose garden with clipped box hedging and stone balustrades. There is still work to be done, particularly on the garden and out buildings but the location is stunning

Heath House

Approach to the Orangery

heath house

Regency Orangery

heath House

View from the Orangery

The box is cut late in the year to avoid browning of the leaves. Apparently the brides do not like it when the leaves are scorched with the sun!

heath houseThe pergola was being destroyed by the weight of an old wisteria and is in the process of renovation with half the uprights having been rebuilt.

Heath House enjoys a fabulous location and as such the borrowed landscape enhances the gardens. If you are in the area when they are open it would be worth a visit.

Trentham Gardens

Gardens that were well known for their carpet bedding borders were given a major makeover in 2003-2005 by Piet Oudolf and Tom Stuart-Smith.

Piet Oudolf

trentham gardens Piet Oudolf

The Floral Labyrinth

Piet Oudolf’s distinctive prairie planting of perennials and grasses is now a well known gardening style. Running alongside the River Trent there are two main areas. The Floral Labyrinth, which Oudolf describes as having a pattern like “the neck of a giraffe”, consists of a network of borders divided by wide grass paths which are interspersed with little clearings. There is then a dividing curtain of river birch (Betula nigra) before you move into a wet meadow.

trentham gardens Piet Oudolf

The Rivers of Grass

This area is The Rivers of Grass and looking down on it the movement of the grasses simulates the movement of a river. It is simply planted with two varieties of molinia grasses (‘Edith Dudszus’ and ‘Heidebraut’) and some dotted colour (Persicaria bistorta ‘Superba’ or Astilbe chinensis). Unfortunately this area was not looking particularly good as, following a winter chop, the grasses had not attained a good enough height to really move in the wind.

The Floral Labyrinth:

The best source of plant names is from Piet’s web site where the original planting plans can be downloaded. There are two viewing mounds which enable you to look down on both the areas.

Tom Stuart-SmithTrentham Gardens Tom Stuart-Smith

Tom Stuart-Smith’s contemporary naturalistic planting combines the formality of the Victorian Italianate parterre with soft grasses and perennials, punctuated by the strong verticals of yew.Trentham Gardens Tom Stuart-SmithThe Italian garden links the site of the Trentham Hall with the lake and can be seen beyond the last of the carpet bedding schemes although Tom modified this with the yews and Stipa gigantea.

Nigel DunnettNigel Dunnett Trentham Garden

Nigel is well known for his wildflower meadows and was responsible for much of the wildflower plantings in the Olympic Park. At Trentham he has planted his traditional pictorial meadows and is experimenting with  a new woodland garden under shade. August is not prime month for such planting but the meadows still looked spectacular.

Overall, the new garden developments at Trentham are worth seeing, particularly if, as we had, one of the excellent garden guides to show you around and give you some of the insider information on the garden. However, beware, Trentham is also a major destination for people with little interest in gardening but go for the many other attractions to be had there so choose the day you visit carefully.

Glebe House Garden

It’s Friday and at last we have a little drop of rain. Not really enough to make any difference to the dry state of the plants. Maybe the weekend will bring more rain.

Gardening Hours
This week Total since June 19th Average per week
27 159 18


August delights and disaster

Another week without any rain. The garden is beginning to look very dry and crisp and across the lawn you can see where  hoggin paths went, which were laid in the original walled garden, by the browning of the grass. Due to the hoggin under the turf these areas always dry out first. (Hoggin is a compactable ground-cover that is composed of a mixture of clay, gravel, and sand or granite dust that produces a buff-coloured bound surface. Once laid, the surface is somewhat permeable to water and therefore does not easily hold puddles or generate rapid surface runoff. )

The weather forecast is for more sun and heat into the low thirties next week which by English standards is very hot. So more  brown paths!

The most significant disaster is the large pond in the Italianate area.16_08_07_3109You can see that the water level is low. This is despite frequent topping up. In fact it has developed a leak! The pond was built about 19 years ago and at that stage we used a liner which forms the floor of the pond and runs up behind the walls to complete the pond without any unsightly liner showing. Alas, it also means that leaks are impossible to find. Nevertheless  I have a plan to solve the issue over the next few weeks and will cover it in a later blog.

I do not expect to replant all the water lilies so let me know if you need any.

However, there are many delights to be had:16_08_08_3149

A second brood of swallows sitting on the side of the conservatory waiting to be fed. The dry weather has been good for the swallows and there will soon be hundreds flying around before they migrate.

The garden itself is not looking too bad despite the lack of rain.16_08_07_3066

August is now well under way. Many of the roses are having a second flush of flowers and the dahlias are flowering and demanding dead heading. Seed heads are becoming dry on the poppies and alliums adding to the overall look.

Some of the August delights from the garden are in the following photo mosaic :


Not to be forgotten is the hanging baskets. This one is on automatic watering which helps the garden maintenance enormously.


Gardening Hours
This week Total since June 19th Average per week
10 132 17

Hedges, Hedges, Hedges………

Once again it has been very dry and everything is beginning to look very crisp. However, although it’s later than normal,  I have finally got around to cutting hedges; the boundary hedge and the box hedging.

16_08_01_2961A mixed hedge along the boundary which we put in some years ago to reduce the wind coming across the field. There is a large shrub and flower border along the hedge and in order to make hedge cutting easier and to enable the border to be maintained from the back we have narrow gravel paths between the back of the border and the hedge.

We have utilised box hedging in a number of ways.16_08_04_2973 Here the hedge lines the main entrance to the garden and leads the eye into the main event.16_08_04_2974Around a small lawn in Ivy’s bed, (and that yew hedge needs cutting next week).16_08_04_2975Between the gravel and the border in the Italianate area, a more formal part of the garden.16_08_04_2977Edging the base under the pergola although at this time of year it almost disappears under the plants!16_08_04_2976In the Japanese bed together with clipped yew balls and Hakonechloa macra. 14_07_16_2885All the hedge cuttings are shredded and are mixed with lawn cuttings and added to the compost heap.

Clematis of the week


Clematis viticella ‘Alba Luxurians’

Clematis viticella ‘Alba Luxurians’ is a large deciduous climber with pinnate mid-green leaves tinged grey. White flowers marked and tipped green and often tinged with pale violet to 7.5cm in width have purple-black stamens. Flowers midsummer to early autumn.

Gardening Hours
This week Since June 19th Average
20 122 17

Lets hope for a bit of rain next week.