A Piece of Cake

IMG_2493I 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.

IMG_2483The 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.

IMG_2491IMG_2488I 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 ChiΒ  and the streamside….!

IMG_2501On 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).

IMG_2497IMG_2508Finally, 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!


IMG_2506IMG_2509Three 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!


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28 Responses to A Piece of Cake

  1. Thanks for a chance to join you while wandering through the gardens. The meadow photo is almost my favorite. Looks so careless and is a labor of love. Of course, I am all in favor of having my cake and eating too. Thanks for the tour.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Stepheny – the owners said that ideally they would take out some of the annual self-sown seedlings in the meadow but in practice just don’t have the time. Still looks lovely though!

  2. acuriousgal says:

    What a wonderful day. Thanks for sharing these beautiful gardens….I’m so inspired to make mine half as lovely

    • Cathy says:

      It’s getting the balance though – it would be so easy to think you had to have your garden pristine, but life’s not like that and my garden certainly never will be. These three gardens all had lots of interesting plants which is what I liked, regardless of anything else – I have learned not to be envious of other gardens as I know how much I love mine.

  3. Isn’t it fascinating looking around other people’s gardens? Just to see other peoples’s ideas – I’m always amazed at what they achieve. Although, I must confess to never having visited a Yellow Book garden. How shameful! However, we did visit a village garden open day, near us a few years ago. There must have been almost 30 gardens in the village open for charity. Try as we might, we couldn’t manage them all. Sadly, I’m not aware of them having done it again since – I keep looking!

    • Cathy says:

      There are about 4 or 5 villages near us that do open gardens every year although I haven’t been to any of these for a bit – and I am wondering whether there are others on our (smaller) village that might be interested in starting it up here. I have not been to many NGS gardens either recently and don’t buy the book every year now – it’s easier now to look online and put in a postcode, radius and day. They do vary enormously and of course the sort of garden you enjoy will affect how much you like them, so you need to read between the lines in the description πŸ™‚

  4. Anna says:

    A perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon Cathy. The stream seems to have a magical quality about it. Have used shredded comfrey leaves under my potatoes and sweet peas when they were planted this year so feeling quite virtuous but have stiil to brew πŸ™‚

  5. Cathy says:

    I love this idea of people opening their gardens a few times a year. I hope it will catch on here, as there is a similar scheme just getting established, but no gardens near enough to visit yet. Getting inspiration from other gardeners is so valuable… be it in real life or blogs. Thanks for sharing!

    • Cathy says:

      You are welcome Cathy – I hope too that it does catch on in your area and no doubt when it does the concept will gain momentum as it will surely be popular.

  6. rusty duck says:

    I’d love to have seen that woodland garden.

    • Cathy says:

      Probably similar to yours in a way, except that it was in a Conservation Area of a Derbyshire village and not a wooded valley like yours πŸ™‚

  7. Kris P says:

    That’s my definition of a perfect day too!

  8. sueturner31 says:

    It’s so nice to wander around other folks gardens….some wonderful inspiration to be had….:-)

  9. Annette says:

    What a great day out and so inspiring. I also admired the Diascia over at Chloris’ blog. Of all the images you show I like the pond and wild setting best, as it’s so serene.

    • Cathy says:

      The photo almost takes on the appearance of a Monet painting in a way, doesn’t it? That diascia is a must!

  10. Chloris says:

    The next best thing after being in your own garden is looking at other people’ s. What a lovely way to spend an afternoon. I used to be a NGS County Organiser and I know how much effort people put into having their gardens looking wonderful on the big day. It makes it all worthwhile if people enjoy them. And the cake is always good too.
    But your own garden and your own cake is always best of course.
    And thank you for another mention, dear Cathy.

    • Cathy says:

      You are very welcome, and perhaps you can give me advice on a possible NGS opening at some time in the future (was rejected by a ‘snooty’ organiser some years ago and am reluctant to ask again)….

  11. bittster says:

    Thanks for the trip, it really sounds like a great way to spend a Summer day and I’m always amazed by what others manage to achieve in their own gardens. It makes me wonder a little about my own efforts!

  12. wellywoman says:

    They all look fabulous. It is lovely to get inspiration from smaller scale, more realistic gardens. It is my main gripe with Gardeners’ World that they spend too much time focusing on larger gardens in my opinion which seems odd as most new gardens are getting smaller and smaller. I might see if there are any gardens open near us this weekend would be nice to be inspired by other people’s planting. A slice of cake would be nice too. πŸ˜‰

    • Cathy says:

      I used to like a magazine called 25 Beautiful Gardens, unfortunately not now being published – it featured a wide range of different sized gardens

  13. PaulneP says:

    You certainly found some lovely gardens with beautiful flowers, certainly a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. Whenever I go garden visiting I always come home with ideas to try, it is so inspiring. I loved your photo of the stream and trees, it looks so peaceful.

  14. Christina says:

    One of the joys of living anywhere in England and not to be undervalued! Thanks for sharing your visits and your thoughts about them.

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