Tag Archives: garden visits

Attadale Gardens, Lochcarron, Scotland

14 Sep

I hesitate to recommend this garden – not because it wasn’t lovely or worth a visit but because I very much doubt many of you will be passing within 100 miles of it soon !

Attadale Gardens has to be the most northerly garden I have ever visited, although it was only 20 mins away from where we spent our summer holidays every year.

It’s over 629 miles from London and still 225 miles or 4 hours drive from Glasgow.

It is on a similar latitude to the southern tip of Greenland !

This all makes for an interesting climate! The garden is at sea level , on the banks of Loch Carron and enjoys a relatively warm and temperate climate. The Gulf Stream keeps the frost and snow at bay most winters. The summers are not quite as warm as further south, and the rainfall is approximately 70% higher than the UK average


Unsurprisingly the first impression you get on entering this garden, is just how lush everything is. Plants that I was familiar with were almost twice the size as they’d grow down south and there was no sign of the parched slow down that gardens often have in August.

The clean, damp climate has led to some amazing lichen growing on trees.



Attadale Gardens was first established in the elate 19th century by a Baron Schroeder ( of the banking family ) and still consists of 20 acres of conifers and rhododendrons. It was substantially replanted after 1980 storms and now includes pools, bridges, sculpture and beautiful views of Skye and the Applecross hills.

Obviously the best time to visit this garden must be late May for the rhododendrons but even in August there was plenty to see.

The woodland areas were lush with ferns, and the martagon lilies were fabulous, nodding above the undergrowth.



Some of the  rhododendrons were still attracting attention even without flowers – the bark of this Rhododendron rex  arizelum were fabulous with the sunlight glancing off them.


The vegetable garden was really quite demoralising ! The size of the cabbages !



And a hedge of broad beans !


The house is tucked in away from strong winter winds and because of that probably doesn’t have much of a view sadly but you only have to explore a few paths to admire the views across the loch.


There are plenty of craggy rocks covered in mosses and fabulous roots twisting themselves to find a little thin soil.



Overall, this garden has plenty of interest throughout the year and after the endless, wild splendour of heather covered mountains that we’d been exploring locally, it was a pleasant adventure into a more cultivated landscape.

ps. Apologies for the silence over the last month but I’ve been having issues uploading posts from my ipad, where I always store my photos and write my posts, on to WordPress. I’ve contacted WordPress without much joy but have heard other people have similar problems. If anybody knows how to overcome this bug please let me know !


Packwood revisited …

10 Jun

Back in February, I visited the kitchen garden at Packwood House. It was a great time of year to appreciate the structure and layout of the area and to spot all the lovely little details.


Above is a picture taken in February when very little was growing.

Now in June, the garden is starting to fill out.


Here the strawberries are flowering prolifically. Some plants were being grown in grow bags , on low tables – in order to avoid the slugs maybe ? But they would obviously need more watering. Others were grouped in hanging bags on short posts – easy to pick and decorative.



The box hedges are growing fast and are a beautiful saturated green. They must be due a trim – box is traditionally trimmed on Derby Day in the uk – this is a prestigious horse race and this year it was 6th June. There’s nothing scientific about this particular day but early June does give the plants plenty of time to recover from the trim and for new growth to harden off before any chance of frost in the autumn.


Peas are safe from pigeons under runs of chicken wire held above them by beautiful clay pots.



The herb beds are almost full with parsley, marjoram, thyme, lovage, fennel, dill,sage and many more I couldn’t identify. What I’d give for a herb bed this big !!


Vegetable planting becomes art here when even the potatoes are sown in neat patchwork patterns.




And the auricula theatre was still putting on a good performance ! Can’t wait for my auriculas to grow as large of these ones !

And finally I still had time to pop over to the main garden quickly.

The relatively newly planted herbaceous borders were growing apace. The planting was dominated with Allium ‘Purple Sensation‘ .



Normally I love Allium ‘purple sensation ‘, and I’d normally say you can never have too many ! But here I think they may have over done it ! They really do dominate the bed and as they’re all exactly the same height and same colour they rather smother the rest of the planting. In my view , half as many would have looked better. They will blend in better once they go to seed.
What do you think ??

Coton Manor – Beautiful Bluebells

8 May

I had a lovely trip yesterday to Coton Manor, Northamptonshire.

It’s a garden I’ve visited many times over the years as a good friend volunteers there and I have attended many good sessions at the Garden School with people such as Sarah Raven, Fergus Garrett and Bunny Guinness


But this trip was a bit different – I was taking my neighbour Glenys to celebrate her 90th birthday in order to see the bluebells.

Coton is rightly famous for its bluebells – there are over an acre of them, spread under an enormous canopy of beech trees. They are of course English Bluebells, not the larger and some would say more vulgar Spanish bluebells. To tell them apart- the English ones hang their bells down in a delicate droop whilst the Spanish variety stand very upright.

And they looked simply amazing ….


The sight of the bluebells stretching as far as the eye can see, the delicate scent, the cathedral like presence of the beech trunks and the ethereal light filtering through the beech leaves, is enough to render anyone speechless and Glenys was suitably gobsmacked !


There are plenty of bluebell woods locally here in Warwickshire but the careful tending at Coton has enabled the bluebells to thrive without competition from cow parsley and brambles.




In between the showers, we managed to wander round the whole garden.

Coton Manor is a private house and garden owned by the Pashley-Tyler family. Susie Pashley-Tyler is the driving force behind the garden and has worked tirelessly to produce a garden that feels very much at ease with its self. Nothing seems to be trying too hard, there’s nothing too trendy here – no exotics garden, no prairie planting, just excellent traditional herbaceous plantings full of roses, peonies, clematis etc.


Above, a beautifully trained wisteria.


Above, plenty of colour provided here by purple Honesty.


Above, here a perennial wallflower provides the zing.


Above, blue camassias stand proud in the wildflower meadow.


Above, candelabra primulas alongside the steam.


Above – what I wouldn’t give for a pot like this ! Filled with Spring Green tulips.


Beautifully trained espalier apples line the vegetable garden.

An excellent lunch ( and tea !) rounded off a lovely day.

Looking back and forward…..

3 Jan

It’s that time of year again when it’s deemed appropriate to review the last 12 months and express disappointment in one’s performance and blame unexpected family commitments, unplanned overseas travel, or un scheduled box set binges. And then to look towards the approaching new year and to promise more commitment to the task in hand, combined with less procrastination.

Well, in a year long effort not to beat my self up too much about the few things I don’t actually achieve, and to take a little more credit for so much of what I have actually achieved….

I can say that I really enjoyed visiting this….


And this…


I learnt a few new things like this….


And this …..


I shall grow more of these….


And these….


I want to photograph more things like this….


And this….


I want to spend more time here….


And here….


I want to fill my house with more of these…..


And these….


I want to eat in more places like this….


And this….


I should probably eat more of these….


And less of these….


I must spend more time wearing these….


But still make time to do more of this….


And most importantly to make more time to appreciate things like this….


And this….


I’ll let you know how I get on !

Photos ( all mine)

1. Derek Jarman’s garden in Dungeness Kent
2. Sissinghurst Kent
3. Porcelain hearts
4. Appliquéd hare from workshop with Mandy Pattullo
5. American Dawn dahlia
6.asstd chillies
7. & 8. Beach combing still life
9. Loch Duich Rosshire Scotland
10. Isle of Lewis Outer Hebrides
11. Sweet peas
12. Flowers at Worton Organic
13. Worton Organic Oxfordshire
14.beach restaurant Istanbul
15. Amazing tomatoes from Worton Organic
16. Spiced blackberry bundt cake
17. My work boots
18. Liberty patchwork cushion
19. My favourite view Loch Duich Scotland
20. My favourite chair in my garden Warwickshire

Great Dixter – or how to break all those horticultural rules !

11 Jun

Just returned from a lovely weekend in Kent, spent stitching and garden visiting, so plenty to write about over the next few weeks !


First stop was Great Dixter. Set on the edge of the Sussex Weald, the surrounding countryside couldn’t be more English – rolling hills, green fields, oak woods – a green and pleasant land!


The house and surrounding buildings at Great Dixter are ancient timbered structures with soft painted plaster panels and tiny diamond paned windows. We didn’t actually venture into the house but I imagine its all oak floors and panelling and really rather dark. However every window would disclose a gem of a garden!

The house dates from the mid 15th century and had been in the Lloyd family since 1910. The garden structure, designed by Edward Lutyens in 1910, was established by Christopher Lloyd’s mother Daisy. Christopher began to be involved in the garden in the 1950s and was finally able to begin to make his unique mark.


The traditional English garden is still there underneath – yew hedges, ancient roses, beautiful garden buildings but Christopher Lloyd has almost acted like a rebellious teenager and has tweaked everything as if to really annoy his mother!

The neatly manicured lawns have been turned into wildflower meadows, the rose garden has been replaced with tropical splendour, the herbaceous borders have startling colour combinations that would never have been allowed in Edwardian times and the pots would’ve given her a heart attack !


There are no neat rows of bedding, no formal parterres, and no lawns clipped to within an inch of their lives. And somehow it’s really refreshing,

Ferguson Garrett , head gardener/designer/guru, has maintained Christopher
Lloyd’s vision since his death in 2006 and continues to play with different colours/shapes and forms.

I particularly liked, what I guess is actually a trial border at the back of the vegetable garden, planted up with only a dozen varieties of herbaceous perennial but so well chosen to give you a really long season of interest.


Compared to a National Trust garden ( and more on that when I write about Sissinghurst) there is a wonderful sense of freedom here, where rules are made to be broken, and just because the RHS /NT don’t do it, doesn’t mean to say it won’t work.

We got completely lost amongst the 6ft high borders, along increasingly narrow paths – the box /yew hedges were in desperate need of a short back and sides! – and sat sipping tea whilst watching the swallows dive under beams to their nests in the wonderful old barns.


The extensive nursery was hard to resist, the tea offer was rather disappointing – plastic cups, no cake – would’ve been lovely to find a great pop up cafe offering tasty organic delicacies. The shop was lovely with lots of unusual gardening inspired gifts.

You must visit if you’re ever that way – it is so refreshing to see such a mature garden moving forward.



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