I don’t know about you, but it’s seemed such a long winter season this year, but at last there are welcome signs of spring everywhere. Feeling energised, we all trooped off on our first garden visit of 2017- to Dunham Massey , one of Cheshire’s stately homes, to see its iconic winter gardens. And who knew, we might even pick up some tips on how to furnish our own gardens for a better winter display? Here we are, beginning to gather at the garden entrance: ( It was like herding cats!)
There’s a wonderfully scented Daphne bholua by the gate which we all crowded around , inhaling deeply, looking like a group of middle-aged cocaine addicts.Its scent is mightily powerful and I’ve just bought a spindly, but extortionately expensive ,specimen for myself from which I hope great things……
There were swathes of narcissi , iris reticulata and wood anemones,and the remains of various snowdrop varieties, all proving the point that planting lots of the same thing gives maximum impact:
Nestled under the many beech trees were groups of Cyclamen coum -just the plants for those dry, rooty conditions where not much else will grow:
Dunham is famous for its stands of white siver birch trees Betula jaquemontii, which look ghostly in the winter sun. Apparently the gardening staff here use Fairy washing up liquid to scrub the bark to a gleaming whiter than white! I’m not sure I’d go to those lengths myself, would you?
Suddenly we were all stopped in our tracks by the delicious smell of a Mediterranean lemon grove! We sniffed about like bloodhounds and traced it to this gawky looking shrub- Lonicera fragrantissima- gorgeous, but maybe one for a larger garden:
The blowsy Barbara Cartland pinks of the camellias were all beginning to unfurl like ballerinas on HRT:
And look at the fiery stems of these Cornus alba ‘Siberian Pearls’making a real statement:
As was the similarly coloured bark of this cherry Prunus serrula:
We then spent some time very noisily observing the gardeners and volunteers who were silently hard at work mulching the beds with what looked like bracken compost.( Everyone loves to watch a worker). How they could work without chatting was beyond all of us:
Pretty blossom of Prunus kojo- no- mai , which is a tiny shrub of less than 50cm and a good way of getting cherry blossom into the tiniest garden:
Hellebores were everywhere, including this ‘Queen of the Night’- note to self- Plant More Hellebores!
A good lesson here from the gardeners on how to prune Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’- these had been cut down to no more than 18 inches, much harder than any of us had dared to do ourselves. Duly impressed, we all resolved to go home and get much tougher on our own!
Being now giddy with spring fever, we all decided to follow the instruction, so, after 3, we all jumped and shouted “STOMP,STOMP,STOMP!” Lesson- sensible people do daft things when egging each other on in a group.
Corylopsis paucifolia looking like fizzy, lemony firework:
Nice shelter, and then into the Orangerie. One day…..
And then back through the stables to the shop, of course!
I love a garden visit, don’t you?