Sunday, 31 August 2014

Packwood House- arguably the best garden of the tour?

Packwood House was our final stop before coming home, it appears in the National Trust great gardens book, and was mentioned by the guides on our way round the house. Impressive views of the garden can be seen from the house, but the garden surpasses every expectation, it is glorious.
The yews tend to get centre stage when people talk about the gardens because they are so old, dating back it is believed to 1660 when John Fetherston, a lawyer planted the Sermon on the Mount in yew trees! From the approach, driving through Shakespeare's Forest of Arden, and then down a winding drive until the house is glimpsed, the place is pure fairytale.
 It was restored to its present state by Graham Baron Ash in the 1930s and given to the National Trust in 1941 in memory of his parents, fulfilling the family motto- 'not for us but for everyone.'
But to the gardens, from glorious long borders crammed with plants

 to the sunken garden with the most glorious selection of Sedums, Aeoniums, Echeverias and more

 I wonder if this is Sedum Xenon?
 So lovely
 And what was this looking a bit unruly, Echeveria 'Pink Frills'? A third sighting in 3 days?
 From the sunken garden and up to the Terrace Walk where Aeonium arboretum 'Zwartkop'  is seen growing in profusion. This look is achieved of course by overwintering in a greenhouse and planting our each year.

 Above and below borders beside the Terrace Walk

Looking back to the house:
 And then the other way to the famous yews:
 From here we walked up the spiral walkway up the Mount, here planted with a magnificent yew known as the Master. Flanking it are a dozen yews to represent the disciples, and then a multitiude of yews:

And last but by no means least, we went to have a look at the walled kitchen garden, immaculately planted with imaginative touches as can be seen below where there's a teddy bear's picnic table and brassicas radiating out from the centre.

We ended the visit with a guided tour of the nurseries, very interesting to see behind the scenes.

Friday, 29 August 2014

A Visit to Avondale Nursery on the last day of the Midlands Trip

Avondale Nursery had become an intended destination after the interesting article on the nursery in the Garden magazine. Since then, Gardener's World presenter Carol Klein and the BBC crew, have spent a day filming the Sanguisorbas and interviewing the owners for a 6 minute slot on the 20th of September.
They hold 3 National Collections of Anenome nemorosa, Sanguisorba and Aster novae-angliae, they also have a huge collection of Sedums, Crocosmia, Agapanthus, Eryngium and grasses in their Library Garden, where you can wander round and are encouraged to make a note of plants you would like to buy. Everything is clearly labelled.
The day wasn't too bright, so the photos look a bit dull, but the garden and sales area certainly weren't.
 The entrance is bright and welcoming:
 Below are photos taken of the Library garden where plants are displayed to best advantage:
 Lovely combinations of heights and colours
 Below one of the red Sedums

 Here a general view
 Below some Sanguisorbas and Agapanthus
Outside the garden is a rather nice example of how height can be used to great advantage:

 Here's the sales area:
 And a photo of the owners with Carol Klein:
 Details of how to get there:
What did I buy?
I had been looking for Euphorbia 'Black Pearl' first seen at RHS Rosemoor, I found one here, also bought an Agapanthus 'Navy Blue' and a small dark red Sedum 'Bertram Anderson' lovely plants.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Opened in 1885, the collections cover fine art and applied arts, archaelogy and ethnography, natural history, social history. The Museum has the largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite works in the world, as well as Old Masters and Impressionists. Recently the modern and contemporary collections have had a new home created in the Waterhall Gallery of Modern Art, positioned just at the rear of the Museum.
Having visited the Botanical gardens in the morning, there had to be a focus to the visit to the Museum and Art Gallery, we couldn't see everything, so this is a small selection of what's available to see. Luckily we got off the bus too soon, and so were able to see the new library, but not walk to the top and get a magnificent view of the city.
 I like both these views of the library, have a look at the magnificent flower arrangements on the railings below:
 And the simply amazing vertical plant structures outside the library
The outside of the museum and art gallery was quite grand:
And inside very welcoming, first things first and off to the cafe for some lunch, then to look at the William de Morgan ceramics which were simply stunning.

It's worth visiting the museum and art gallery for these alone, but there's more, wonderful paintings such as these 2 Stanley Spencers:
 Old Tannery Mills 1939 painted in the village of Leonard Stanley in Gloucestershire
 And below, The Resurrection Tidying 1945 completed whilst working as an official war artist in the Clyde shipyards.

 Above The Miner painted in 1936 by Richard Sickert based on a press photograph showing the reunion of a miner with his wife is gloriously passionate.
 And above The Ploughing Team 1905 by Robert Bevan, a fabulous painter of horses.
I bought postcards of The Long Engagement by Arthur Hughes 1859, and Arrival at Epsom Downs for Derby Week by Sir Alfred Munnings.
This Modigliani was also worth looking at:
I didn't take an photos of the Staffordshire Hoard which is quite amazing.
 On the way back, there was a fabulous grass verge of wild flowers:
 And a lovely reflection in this glassy sided building:

Birmingham Botanical Gardens & Glasshouses

The Midlands tour included a day in Birmingham starting at the Botanical Gardens where for the price of the entry fee, about £5.50, one can park for 12 hours.
The gardens were designed by J C Loudon, the most innovative and successful garden designer  of his day, and opened in 1832, and it's good to see the site still used for the gardens, like a green lung in the centre of Birmingham.
The visit starts with the glasshouses, the first being the tropical house which is the oldest of the glasshouses and a Grade One listed building.
 Below is a Bromeliad Aechmea fascista, and above I'm unsure.
 There are some lovely features beyond the glasshouses including the fountain and bandstand
 with the Lawn Aviary just visible in the background, and seen more clearly below:
These structures looked so fabulous.
Also wonderful was the cacti and succulents bed along the Loudon Terrace outside the glasshouses where I saw Echeveria Pink Frills again:
Did they buy it from Ashwood nurseries, or is it available elsewhere?
The dahlias were also so lovely:

And there was also a butterfly house at the furthest edge of the garden where there were butterflies emerging from pupae, I didn't photograph those, but did get a photograph of this one:
The botanical gardens are well worth a visit, more information here: