Garden Portrait: Edinburgh Botanic Garden

Garden Portrait: Edinburgh Botanic Garden

It is almost 9 months since my visit to Edinburgh, where I finally met the restless lady who takes us on regular walks in the north-east of England and the Algarve where she spends all most some of her time. After a morning of walking the streets of the city we got on a bus and headed out to the Botanical Gardens for an hour or two.

The entrance gate is quite stunning.

Being the end of the summer season the main interest in the garden was seed heads. I found a few interesting ones.

Crab Apple – Malus sylvestris

Insects were still busy collecting the pollen.

We walked and we talked and we finally found our way to the Japanese garden area where the large lily pond enthralled us both and the red bridge enticed us further into the garden.

The not so subtle smell of candyfloss was in the air (Cercidiphyllum japonicum, known as the Katsura Tree) and the leaves on the acers were turning.

Eventually we arrived at the huge glasshouses, but decided against paying to enter as it was such a glorious day after the cold, damp, dreich day before and we wanted to make the most of being outdoors. Besides we really didn’t have the time needed to really take in what was inside.

The borders near the glasshouses were filled with late summer planting and a variety of colourful penstemons lined the pathway to the entrance, but deep in conversation we really only fleetingly took in the beauty of this garden.

Pausing to admire the view over towards Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat in the distance. Places that in order to explore would mean another meeting as our time together drew to a close.

Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat

It was lovely to finally meet up with Jo and to share a walk with her, so it is only fitting that this post is linked to her walks 🙂

IF YOU ENJOY A WALK, LONG OR SHORT, THEN HAVE A LOOK AT JO’S SITE WHERE YOU ARE WELCOME TO JOIN IN WITH HER MONDAY WALKS.

Garden Portrait: Glamis Castle Italian Garden

Garden Portrait: Glamis Castle Italian Garden

In addition to the Walled Garden is the more formally designed Italian Garden, close to the actual castle. The garden  was laid out by Countess Cecilia, the Queen Mother’s mother, c.1910 to designs by Arthur Castings. The fan-shaped parterres of formal beds are separated by gravel walks. Between the two gardens lies the Pinetum which was planted c.1870 and has a variety of exotic trees, many native to North America.

Other features include pleached alleys of beech, a stone fountain and ornamental gates which commemorate the Queen Mother’s 80th birthday.

Pleached beech trees

Like most formal Italian gardens there is a fair amount of statuary here.

And in September the beds were full of colourful dahlias of all sorts of shapes and sizes.

IF YOU ENJOY A WALK, LONG OR SHORT, THEN HAVE A LOOK AT JO’S SITE WHERE YOU ARE WELCOME TO JOIN IN WITH HER MONDAY WALKS.

Garden Portrait: Glamis Castle Walled Garden

Garden Portrait: Glamis Castle Walled Garden

Glamis Castle lies in Angus, Scotland and is probably best known as the childhood home of the Queen Mother (Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon). At the age of four her father inherited the Earldom of Strathmore and Kinghorne and with it Glamis Castle and the family spent some of their time there.

It is the setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth and is referred to several times in the play: – “Glamis thou art” “and yet woulds’t wrongly win: thou’dst have great Glamis”. It is widely believed that Duncan was murdered here by Macbeth.

Today it looks more like a French Chateau having been extensively renovated in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The walled garden is reached via a short walk through the estate alongside the Nature Trail and Pinetum.

Once used as a fruit and vegetable garden for the castle it fell into disrepair and only recently has major redevelopment work started, including the installation of a spectacular fountain.

Even in late September the garden was full of colour. Roses were still blooming.

The wide gravel pathways radiate from the centre of the garden with deep herbaceous borders on either side. Sedums, monarda, heleniums, echinacea, rudbeckia and asters were dominant.

Trellises and pergolas were still covered in flowering roses and clematis and more dramatic colour can be seen in the brightly painted Japanese bridge and the vivid red door in the wall.

Naturally I was drawn to the lean-to Victorian style glasshouses, which appear to still require a lot of work. However, the dilapidation has a charm of its own.

Next time we’ll have a wander around the Italian Garden.

IF YOU ENJOY A WALK, LONG OR SHORT, THEN HAVE A LOOK AT JO’S SITE WHERE YOU ARE WELCOME TO JOIN IN WITH HER MONDAY WALKS.

Garden Portrait: Dartington Hall

Garden Portrait: Dartington Hall

Designer Henry Avray Tipping (1855-1933) the distinguished architectural editor of Country Life magazine gave this advice to the RHS in 1928:

“Let there be some formalism about the house to carry on the geometric lines and enclosed feeling of architecture, but let us step shortly from that into wood and wild garden”

His reputation was based on the hundreds of articles he wrote on country houses and their gardens and in his many books, but his greatest legacy are the gardens he designed for his friends, one of which is Dartington Hall in South Devon.

The medieval hall itself was built between 1388 and 1400 for John Holand, Earl of Huntingdon, half-brother to Richard II. After John was beheaded, the Crown owned the estate until it was acquired in 1559 by Sir Arthur Champernowne, Vice-Admiral of the West under Elizabeth I. The Champernowne family then lived in the Hall for 366 years until 1925.

Dartington Hall

It sits amongst the bosky lanes of south Devon and easily missed if you don’t turn into the long drive by the church. The medieval Great Hall presides over a gaggle of subsidiary buildings, where many famous artists have gathered including dancers, actors, painters, potters, musicians, philosophers and poets through the long decades of the 20th century.

But I am here to introduce you to the gardens. Restored by the homesick American heiress, Dorothy Elmhirst, who along with her English husband Leonard, bought the hall in 1925, at its heart are the impeccable lawn terraces that recall the medieval tournament ground. All around are graceful green walks across lawns, beneath magnificent trees.

Jacob’s Pillow by Peter Randall-Page (May 2005)

“a house should sit at ease with nature”

The garden, really a small park, is Dorothy Elmhirst’s creation through 40 years. When they arrived the central feature was an overgrown formal Dutch-style sunken garden which Leonard Elmhirst dubbed the ‘Tiltyard’ and had its tiered shape accentuated. Drawings from the †19C revealed that it had been a lily pond making use of the nearby spring waters.

Azalea Dell and Swan Fountain

A flagged walk on the west side of the Great Lawn leads to terraces south of the Hall.

This is the sunny border as designed by Henry Avray Tipping and in spring is full of peonies and irises.

“retain the grace and feeling of the wild, while adding eclectic beauty of the cultured”

There are woodland garden walks which were designed by Beatrix Farrand, a famous American landscape architect, who loved to ‘paint’ with colour and form. Dartington is her only example of her work outside the USA.

The paths converge at the statue of Flora (also the name of Dorothy’s mother) which was presented to the Elmhirsts in 1967 by the people of Dartington. The statue dates back to the late â€ 17C but the artist is unknown. Flora marks the site of the couples’ ashes and the statue is often found adorned with flowers.

Working with existing landscapes and views interested English landscape architect Percy Cane, who after WWII, created the walk around the garden including the Glade with its temple, the Azalea Dell and the long flight of steps between the Glade and the Tiltyard. Except for a burst of colour around the Swan Fountain (1949 and a gift from artist Willi Soukop) in spring, most of the palette in the garden is soft blues, white and yellows.

Steps between the Swan Fountain and the Tiltyard
The Glade

At the bottom of the Glade you find one of the several sculptures in the garden, this by Henry Moore. The Reclining Figure (1945-6) was created for this location as a tribute to the Elmhirsts’ first Arts Administrator, Christopher Martin, who died in 1944.

The Reclining Figure (Henry Moore 1945-6)

Alongside the sculpture is a row of 500 year-old Spanish Chestnuts.

At the other end of the terrace a Garden Access Bridge, designed by Peter Randall-Page leads to a dappled shady area where his sculpture Jacob’s Pillow can be found. The sphere of 12 spirals is inspired by the Twelve Apostles.

By now the somewhat cloudy sky was growing darker and it was obvious that we were in for a shower so we began to walk back to the entrance past the lovely stone and timber summerhouse (listed Grade II) with a thatched conical roof built by Rex Gardner in 1929 to overlook the valley south-east of the Hall. It was formerly a temporary nursery and then a studio for Willi Soukop. It was rebuilt in 1980 after a fire.

Summerhouse
Darkening skies

We were lucky to manage to reach a wonderful new Green Table café just outside the entrance without getting too wet and enjoyed a marvellous cup of coffee along with orange polenta cake and a delicious flapjack.

This is a beautiful peaceful garden with delightful views and a wonderful sense of traces of the past and the artistic and tranquil atmosphere.

IF YOU ENJOY A WALK, LONG OR SHORT, THEN HAVE A LOOK AT JO’S SITE WHERE YOU ARE WELCOME TO JOIN IN WITH HER MONDAY WALKS.

Sources include Wikipedia, the Dartington Hall Gardens leaflet and Historic England website

Garden Portrait: Coleton Fishacre

Garden Portrait: Coleton Fishacre

Welcome to Coleton Fishacre in south Devon, a gorgeous Art Deco style house and a beautiful valley garden that leads you to a coastal viewpoint. The house was built in the 1920s and the country home of the D’Oyly Carte family (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame). A 30 acre garden surrounds the house and the National Trust are recreating it as it once would have been with the help of photographs and planting books kept by the family.

There are many steep steps in the garden and slopes especially at the bottom, so it can be quite a challenging garden to walk around. Due to the high humidity created by the sea and the stream that runs through the valley many exotic plants thrive here under the canopy of the trees.

Paths lead from the house down the valley and on either side, with many smaller paths, slopes, steps meandering through the slopes. One minute you can be in a typical English woodland scene with bluebells and ransoms,

the next in an exotic jungle with Chilean Firetrees, Banana plants and Dracaenae.

Plants from South America, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia rub noses with English cottage garden plants; Azaleas and Rhododendrons hide behind tall stands of bamboo; Magnolias flirt with Chilean Myrtles. Someone here had fun choosing the planting, it is colourful and eclectic and lush.  You never know quite what lies ahead.

And from the delightful Gazebo, which can be reached via a lawned-path, you get a wonderful glimpse of the sea.

The gardens have a lovely courtyard tea room which serve lunches as well as cakes, a National Trust shop and an interesting range of plants for sale too. The route to the gardens is along a narrow road for the latter part, but this is only for a short distance and there are passing places. Quite often coaches arrive for lunch-time so if you want a quieter visit then choose earlier in the morning or late afternoon. Or do as we did and stay in one of the cottages so you can visit the garden at any time you like.

IF YOU ENJOY A WALK, LONG OR SHORT, THEN HAVE A LOOK AT JO’S SITE WHERE YOU ARE WELCOME TO JOIN IN WITH HER MONDAY WALKS.