Sunday, 23 June 2013

A Tale Of Two Gardens - Part 1


Earlier this month we spent a most pleasant weekend garden visiting and cake hunting. I have been meaning to post more about the garden visits so will do so before June slips away. Both gardens are in Shropshire and are within a couple of miles of each other. Depending on your energy levels they could be visited in one day or you may prefer to spread the visits out and linger longer at both.

Our first port of call was Hodnet Hall Gardens in the village of Hodnet, some twelve miles away from the town of Market Drayton. We had visited once before but memories of it were a blur. Images of a lot of space, lakes and a rather unique tea room were at the back of my mind but I could not recall any specific planting details. The main reason for this recent visit in fact was to attend a Plant Hunters' Fair which was being held in the grounds that weekend. These specialist plant fairs are held mainly in Cheshire, North Wales, Shropshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire and take place in some fine garden venues. They are well worth looking out for.

So our first port of call was the plant fair which offered plenty to peruse and plenty to tempt. Himself headed back to the vehicle with my purchases before we set off to meander through some of the sixty three acres of gardens. There have been gardens at Hodnet since the eleventh century but most of the current gardens were developed during the twentieth century. In the 1920s the owner Brigader Heber-Percy made a decision to flood the valley which lies below the house. During the next forty years the pool margins and slopes were planted with various shrubs including spring flowering magnolias, rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias. He was helped in this project by the renowned plantsman EA Bowles. The present owner has added to the structure with herbaceous plantingI think that we were most fortunate with the timing of our visit which coincided with the gardens being at their peak in terms of seasonal colour and interest. The late spring played its part too as some of the flowers we encountered would normally not still be out at the beginning of June. Everywhere we looked there was an absolute riot of colour whilst our noses were assailed by powerful scents. A magical moment occurred when gazing up at the handkerchief tree, which you can see in the bottom left hand photo, when the sound of church bells started to drift through the air.  A celebratory peal we supposed for a bride and groom on a perfect sunny Saturday afternoon.

We would like to return there later in the year as I'm sure that the gardens would be splendid in the autumn. However sadly there does not seem to be an opportunity to do this, as there appear to be no open days between the middle of September and late November. Maybe this might change in the future. The gardens are not open each week but have specific open days throughout the year, which you can check on the Hodnet Hall Gardens website. They are also open by appointment to groups of over 25 people.

Final image of the day is of this monster that himself spotted lurking in the foliage of yellow tree peony ~


Neither of us had seen such a creature before so out came the wildlife books as soon as we got home. We are fairly sure that it is a cockchaffer beetle, otherwise known as a May bug, which too was another late arrival  on the scene this year. On to the second garden later this week.

20 comments:

  1. yep, it's a cockchafer - our cats like to bring them into the house at this time of the year. They make one hell of a racket!

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    1. Thanks for confirming the id of the mystery beastie VP. I can imagine that they would certainly attract the interest of your cats :)

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  2. Urgh, I don't like the look of that bug, I haven't seen one like that before either. The plant hunters fair sounds good, a shame there isn't one round here. It sounds like it was held in a lovely place, nice that you got to enjoy the gardens whilst visiting the fair, but a shame you can't revisit in autumn, it would have been good to compare the gardens in different seasons.

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    1. He/she looked quite content sunbathing Jo but I don't know how I would react if I saw one flying round my head :) I would have liked to have visited in the autumn and will keep my fingers crossed that we will be able to at some point in the future.

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  3. Ah! I've not seen one of those bugs for years! We used to have loads of them in the area I grew up in. They make a racket indeed! If one flies past you they really are like huge noisy things! Quite gross really. My husband would love it. Looking forward to part 2! I've not been around for a while so am looking forward to catching up on your blog :)

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    1. Good to see you again Anna. The more I hear about these beasties the more the more glad I am that our beastie was enjoying a quiet siesta and was not on the wing :)

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  4. 63 acres to wander about, wow! All sounds lovely!

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    1. It was lovely indeed guys although I don't think that we saw it all :)

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  5. From your photos it looks gorgeous. All the better if you can take home some plants!! It was at one of these fairs that I bought my own handkerchief tree. That was about six years ago and I'm still waiting for the first bracts.. but I have moved it twice in the interim, and it stayed in a pot for three years between moves. They are notoriously sulky if moved.

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    1. It was a lovely garden to wonder in Jessica. We spotted several handkerchief trees in full flow - they are quite special. Fingers crossed that yours stops sulking and starts strutting its stuff before long.

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  6. Lovely photos. That beetle looks similar to our June beetles! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amphimallon_solstitiale) We have had a lot of the green flower chafers this year. The beetles are pretty, but the grubs can devour roots of pot plants like there's no tomorrow!

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    1. Oh a June bug as well as a May bug :) Off to investigate your link forthwith Cathy.

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  7. Seems you had a great day out. I'd love to visit one of the plant fairs.

    That's definitely a Cockchafer beetle. They're a pain in the arse, at least the grubs are. We're over run with them in the soil over here. The grubs resemble smaller versions of 'witichetty' grubs, about an inch long and chew the roots of all my favourite plants!

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    1. Oh but I'm sure that your plant fairs are every bit as good Rob and you have the bonus of all those interesting characters :) Did not realise that this creature was so destructive - luckily they seem to stay clear of our garden and the allotment.

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  8. I'm pleased you got to visit Hodnet - I checked on the internet to try and visit at the same time as Wollerton but were thwarted in that. Must look at the dates again and plan it in advance. Good to have a taster from you - thanks!

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    1. We fell lucky with the date of the plant fair Cathy. It is possible to coordinate visits but some advance planning seems to be essential :)

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  9. The garden looks beautiful and what a bonus to bring home plants too. I'm not sure I've ever seen one of those beetles before...and not sure I want to either ;-)

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    1. A case of once seen never forgotten Paula :)

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  10. Lovely photographs of Hodnet Hall, it's such a long time since I have been, must visit again someday. Your Plant Fair sounds good, they are good places to buy plants, the nursery men/women certainly know about their plants.

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    1. I like buying from such plant fairs Pauline as the plants are usually of excellent quality and they have been loved. They are great events for advice and information too.

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All your comments are much appreciated and treasured. I wil try to reply to everyone who leaves a comment, but it may take me a few days, especially when I start spending more time in the garden and at the lottie. I know that you will understand :) I am sure that I will also visit your blog if I have not already done so. If you have any specific questions I will either reply to them here or you can email me at : thegreentapestry@gmail.com

Namasté

- Anna.