Friday Fountain Challenge: October

Witley Court in Worcestershire boasts a restored working fountain which represents Perseus and Andromeda and reaches the original high cascades when fired on the hour between 11 am and 4 pm.

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If you’d like to join in with the fountain challenge then please pop over to Polianthus for the rules

This month she is looking for stately or ornate fountains. I’m sure she would love to see you.

Garden Portrait: Arley Arboretum

Japanese Acers
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What better place to visit in autumn than an arboretum where you can enjoy a stroll through the falling and fallen leaves, enjoy a crisp autumn day and admire the flaming reds and yellows of the Japanese Acers, or the pinks, purples and tangerines of the Liquidambar. The North American maples with their vivid autumn palette of reds, oranges, golds and browns compete with the burnished golds and auburns of ancient oaks and beeches. If you are lucky to find a place with a lake (such as Sheffield Park in East Sussex or Stourhead in Wiltshire) you have the bonus of colours reflected in the water with dazzling effect.

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Arley doesn’t have a lake. What it does have is a wonderful view across the Severn Valley in Worcestershire where the Severn Valley Railway runs between Bridgnorth and Kidderminster taking in the lovely countryside. Arley has a fine collection of Acers and their red colour punctuates the rich autumn colours.

Stroll around the grounds and look out for interesting vistas as well as leaf colour and hidden fungi amongst the woodland leaf litter.

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Formal plantings, grand water features, a temple and dovecote help make the peaceful walled Italian Garden a very special place within the arboretum. Guinea fowl and chickens run free. Whilst outside the walls the trees of the arboretum rise magnificently towards the sky.

More lovely walks can be found over at my friend Jo’s place.

Celebrating Saint Michael

The feast day of St Michael the Archangel on the 29th September coincides with the peak flowering season of autumn flowering Asters. Which is how they come by their common name, Michaelmas Daisy.

In America they have other common names such as Frost Weed. The first record of autumn asters being cultivated in this country is 1596 in John Gerard’s Holburn Physic Garden. At this time they were called Starworts.

In Worcestershire, close to the beautiful Malvern Hills, is the Picton Garden, a plantsman’s garden that holds the National Plant Collection of more than 400 varieties of Michaelmas Daisies creating a jewel-like tapestry from mid-September.

I went to visit this little gem last week in glorious September sunshine. Let’s have a look around:

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The Garden Entrance

Once through the garden entrance a gravel pathway leads through an old Rock Garden, a mixed border and opposite a raised bed of European Aster amellus cultivars. Immediately you are struck by the colours of this garden.

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At first you just see the colours, then you notice the differences between the asters – some with yellow stamens, others with reddish ones, and then there are the petals, some narrow and star-like, others multi-layered and frilly. It’s difficult to know what to focus on.

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I am immersed in a jewellery box. Filled with glittering ambers, deep red rubies and sapphires and amethysts of all shades and tones. Rudbeckias, Heleniums and Echinacea add height and autumnal tones, even those that have ‘gone over’.

The garden is continually being renewed and replanted beneath a canopy of beautiful species of trees such as Davidia, silver birch, maples, a tulip tree and magnolias. Ferns and bamboos are planted in the woodland glade and autumn-flowering hydrangea, variegated-leaved phlox and a lovely white clematis frame the entrance to the Black and White Garden where you will find the Michaelmas Fairy.

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A garden (and nursery) such as this obviously is a smorgasbord for bees and butterflies, wasps and hover flies and other insects.

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I will leave you with this image of a visiting hoverfly on a perfectly colour-matching Helianthus.

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 Now hasn’t that brightened up your day?

  • Street:        Old Court Nurseries Colwall
  • Postcode:   WR13 6QE
  • City:            Great Malvern
  • County:      Worcestershire
  • Country:    United Kingdom

More lovely walks can be found over at my friend Jo’s place.