I treated myself to visiting some NGS ‘Yellow Book’ gardens this afternoon, two gardens in one village and one in other, a total journey of about 30 miles or so. The rain held off and it was sunny and mostly hot, so a good day for visiting.
The first garden, about half an acre in size, smacked you in the face with colour when you first went in (right), but away from the house the borders and island beds were generally more subtle and full of established herbaceous plants and shrubs, with wide sweeping grass paths around them and borders divided by barked paths leading to benches and arbours giving sheltered views of the garden from different aspects.
I was particularly aware of several of the tall diascias (Diascia personata) that Chloris wrote about yesterday and had a chat with the owner about them. One she bought only last year and it has bulked up beautifully; others she has successfully taken cuttings from, so it looks like one to definitely look out for. Although up to about 3 feet high none of them seemed to need staking, and are much hardier than the diascias we are more used to. The ‘Sundiascia’ (a copywrited name) I have from Hayloft seem to perform similarly but they are not as tall – both valuable additions to a border, I would say.
Despite packed borders there was still plenty of grass in this garden – although it had been almost all grass when the owners arrived about 9 years ago. I remember a time when our garden was like that, and a time when it was just the paths that were grassy, and now there is just the square for my Tai Chi and the streamside….!
On to a larger garden, about an acre but with a brook running through it and over half the garden a wooded area now discretely managed with bricked and barked paths and planked bridges over the brook and drainage ditches. I loved pushing my way through the overhanging trees here; indeed, some specimen trees planted by the owners 30 years ago were almost too large for their location now and may need to be removed – big decisions. None of this garden was manicured or tamed within an inch of its life and this is what I most liked about it – other than having a REAL stream running through it ( a real stream that meant half the garden was flooded last winter though).
Finally, another acre garden owned by two compost enthusiasts (I WILL start brewing my comfrey leaves, I will, I will….) with the added bonus of a young arboretum. Highlights (other than the latter) were numerous clematis, mostly viticella, and a brilliant prairie and annual meadow, only just past its best – but lots of ‘plantsman’ plants too. Very nice!
Three different gardens with lots of interesting plants to admire, a relatively short journey to get to them, a sunny afternoon – what more could one want? I know, you are thinking ‘a cup of tea and a piece of cake’ – indeed, but I knew there was homemade carrot cake at home so, Reader, I went home, had my cake and ate it. A lovely afternoon all round!