Wintery Wonders

DSCN2753I 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!)DSCN2693

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……DSCN2763

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:DSCN2695DSCN2696

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:DSCN2697

Dunham is famous for its stands of white siver birch trees Betula jaquemontii, which look ghostly in the winter sun. DSCN2698Apparently 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?DSCN2700

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:DSCN2703

The blowsy Barbara Cartland pinks of the camellias were all beginning to unfurl like ballerinas on HRT:DSCN2708

And look at the fiery stems of these Cornus alba ‘Siberian Pearls’making a real statement:DSCN2714

As was the similarly coloured bark of this cherry Prunus serrula:DSCN2715

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:DSCN2719DSCN2741

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:DSCN2720

Hellebores were everywhere, including this ‘Queen of the Night’- note to self- Plant More Hellebores!DSCN2721DSCN2732

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!DSCN2740DSCN2743

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:DSCN2755

Nice shelter, and then into the Orangerie. One day…..DSCN2756DSCN2758DSCN2757

And then back through the stables to the shop, of course!DSCN2765DSCN2768DSCN2770


I love a garden visit, don’t you?





  1. Hi Anne, just had great pleasure in viewing your trip to Dunham Massey-just like to say thank you so much for giving me such pleasure through your classes – my garden is not wondrous but it has been uplifting to see it shooting into life. -especially at this time . We plod on – biopsies, scans, trips here and there – it will be a long haul. Love to you all and many thanks for so much fun. Angie.x


    1. Hi Angie, maybe when the tough times are passed you’ll be able to think about rejoining the class? We miss you too! Anne x


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