A member’s garden on the Mawddach

It’s always a risk, when you decide you’re going to open your garden to the Club. Not the gardens – the gardens are always beautiful. But the weather… well, sometimes the weather just doesn’t cooperate. But a good garden is a good garden whatever the weather throws at us – and, after all, we’re gardeners. Weather doesn’t worry us.

Our April garden visit was to a house with one of the most sensational views that we have yet seen:

even if, as you can see, the incoming rain was an interesting feature. Fortunately the house has rather a lovely verandah, so it’s perfectly possible to enjoy the garden whatever the circumstances. But it would have been a shame not to have explored when there are such delights as these to find when you wander into the garden a little:

There are beehives up here, too, incidentally. Bet the honey is delicious!

The present owners have been working on the garden since they moved into the house in 2001, the last really keen gardener having moved out a couple of years earlier. One of their major tasks was terracing the top middle lawns, making access for a tractor mower.

Working to improve the lawns was also important. In addition, some trees were removed and others planted, like these fruit trees:

with, in the background, the view along the Mawddach estuary towards the sea. And there were many other jobs as well, like consolidating a ruined outbuilding, improving access, creating a wood store, working to improve parking – and, of course, planting.

Here’s a small gallery of some of the other delights we found:

Thank you so much for the chance to visit such a lovely garden!

The last garden visit of the year

Two members were brave and opened their gardens after some of the worst ‘summer’ weather for several years. However, despite an inauspicious misty / foggy start to the day, it soon brightened up and became so sunny that everyone visiting the gardens clustered together in the shade after they’d had a look round.

garden one

The two gardens have some similarities, and some major differences. One – this one – is higher than the other and more exposed; the other – below – is much bigger (at about 3 acres, all told) and has extensive planting of trees as well as a stream in one of its three meadows.

Garden two

Meadows are something they both have in common; so are growing vegetables and fruit. Here are some pictures from that lovely sunny afternoon – who knows when there’ll be another like it?

The first garden:

and the second:

Let’s hope we get the good weather back (and preferably without the high winds as well).

Local gardens, June

It’s definitely the garden visiting season – at least, when it stops raining (and even when it doesn’t, for the truly intrepid). Every year some of out members open their own gardens to the Club so we can see what they’ve been up to / steal ideas / have a cup of tea and a slice of homemade cake. This June we visited Guy and Margaret’s garden, normally open under the NGS (we have two NGS gardens in the village), and it was inspiring.

The trees and shrubs are wonderful,

Cornus

especially this Cornus, which made people stop in their tracks. It is sensational.

But there were lovely things to see everywhere, from particular plants

wow

to the greenhouse and polytunnel, which made those of us who are vegetable gardeners quite envious (let’s not mention the rest of the vegetable gardens… sigh…)

polytunnel

Those of us who share a rabbit problem were especially interested in the preventative measures on display. Peter Rabbit wouldn’t stand much of a chance.

Here’s a collection of photographs – to remind those who went of what can be achieved, to inspire those who didn’t, and to set us all off with ideas for our own gardens. Very many thanks indeed to Guy and Margaret: ten years opening for the NGS.

 

 

Garden visiting – for the last time this year

It’s been a strange summer with storms worthy of September, far too much rain and everything running at about three weeks later than normal. But happily our last garden visit of the summer took place on a good day, and the strangely delayed season hadn’t diminished the sheer amount of lovely things to see in either of the gardens we visited. We are so grateful to members who open their gardens – and who also persuade their neighbours to join in!

rose

These gardens were next door to each other, and they were both stunning. The sheer perfection of the lawns in the first one we went round stunned us all – the edging was so meticulous, and they set off the beds beautifully:

lawn perfection

But there was so much to see, we didn’t know quite where to start. Some of us gravitated towards the thriving vegetable patch, others admired the planting. We all asked lots of questions, often the same one – about the edging. How can it be so perfect, so crisp?

And then we moved next door. This garden is bordered by a stream which adds another element,

stream

and here the vegetable patch was definitely a focus – particularly for those of us who enter our own vegetables in the Summer Show, that is. The owner regularly sweeps the board, and we wanted to see how he did it (sabotage was not involved, honestly). But the whole garden was gorgeous and there were some lovely ideas here too, like the hanging baskets on the gate:

baskets

Here’s a gallery from the two gardens; just click on an image for a slideshow.

What a lovely way to spend an afternoon, and thank you so much to our hosts. You’ve given us so much to think about!

Worth braving the weather – garden visiting

There’s not much doubt that the weather has been somewhat questionable of late. We had a garden visit scheduled for last Monday, and it poured down all morning. It did peter out around lunchtime, but the sky continued to look threatening and only a few hearty souls made it to the garden we’d been invited to look round. Which was a shame, because it was amazing!

How’s this for a view, to start with?

wow

The front of the garden slopes down very steeply towards the road, and a series of terraces with protective hedges have been created to make the most of the site – and it is stunning. Everything seems to flourish in the protection, and the planting is lush:

bank

At the back is a large garden with mature trees, interesting planting and a pond. There are some lovely colour combinations in the beds – a feature everywhere, but they seemed particularly noticeable here.

back garden

Throughout there are a number of large rocks which are very much part of the garden –  an excellent example of making the most of something which cannot be changed. Rabbits are another thing which cannot really be changed, and all the beds here are protected.

It’s a lovely, lovely garden – and most of us had no idea at all it was here. We’ve driven past the lane leading to it; we’ve driven on the road below the slope many, many times. But we had no inkling that such a lovely place existed. But it wasn’t just us – apparently the owners first came to view the house about 30 years ago, they couldn’t find it either. But then the gardens were completely overgrown. What a wonderful difference they have made.

We’d like to thank our hosts for their hospitality, and offer huge thanks to the garden club members who made the visit possible.

Here are a few more photos; just click on an image for a slideshow.

Garden visiting, April

Last Monday we had a treat – not only was the weather stunning (it seems to have gone backwards since then, and there are reports of snow further north), but we had two lovely gardens to visit, both belonging to members.

They were quite different, though they both had lovely views, with the sea glittering in the distance. First was an established garden, with mature trees, a woodland area and a stream:

Mary's

and then came a more recent garden, one a bit higher up and which had, only six years ago, been a building site but which now has some lovely planting, a vegetable garden and hens:

veg beds and lawn

The first garden gave us some serious ideas about the value of running water, and made some of us develop a case of gunnera envy. There were also some sweet species tulips, and a lot of the lovely black-leaved violets which some of us grow so successfully (click on an image for a slideshow),

In the second garden, almost everybody stopped immediately by the gate to admire a beautiful, beautiful pasque flower – quite the largest and healthiest some of us had seen for ages (some people missed it, possibly because they arrived by car; many of us walked through the woods between the two gardens instead). And there were other treats:

Plus, there was the extra treat of tea – and cakes!

Many thanks to our members who kindly opened their gardens to us, and allowed us to gain so much inspiration.

 

A labour of love: restoring Craig y Ffynnon, Dolgellau

Our March meeting was about a local garden, Craig y Ffynnon, which some of us have visited under the NGS, and which – following Monday night’s talk – we all intend to revisit (or visit for the first time, of course). It’s beautiful – and open on 10 May, when the azaleas and laburnum should be perfection (weather permitting)…

Craig y Ffynnon

Our speaker was Shân Lee, who, together with her husband John, has developed the two-acre north-facing garden since 1989. It has – amazingly given the stunning result -been something they have done largely on a part-time basis (they’ve both had demanding jobs, and had children too), and as economically as possible.

The house was originally built about 1750, with two wings added in around 1870. That seems to have been when considerable amounts of  money were spent in the garden, because there is some lovely mature planting, and features like old cobbled paths were revealed as they worked. A lot had been obscured by undergrowth and Shân described it as almost being a ‘mini Helligan’.

The soil is very acid, and the garden hardly sees direct sunlight for almost three months of the year. It is fortunately very sheltered, but nonetheless there have been significant losses due to the weather and the age of some of the trees. These have been regarded philosophically – ‘you have to live with it in an old-established garden’ – and seen as opportunities instead. The loss of some old trees, for instance, opened up views of Dolgellau:

Criag y Ffynnon

The whole garden is beautiful, and the greenhouse in particular made many of us envious. There had originally been a greenhouse but, like many things in the garden, it had been reduced to dereliction, though an old fig and an ancient vine struggled on. Clearing the site was not easy – there was broken glass mixed in with the rubble and other debris – but it did reveal some Victorian cultivation tricks: the vine, for instance, was sitting on slate, under which were a channel and pipes to keep it happy. It also provided material which could be reused, such as the Victorian bricks.

Eventually a beautiful new cedar greenhouse rose in the garden, completely in keeping with its Victorian spirit:

Criag y Ffynnon 2

There were several lessons to take away, apart from remembering that Criag y Ffynnon is open under the NGS on 10 May. Some of the most significant were
• don’t try and do everything at once;
• you don’t have to spend a fortune: beg, steal (within reason, of course!) and borrow; and
• use a lot of ground cover in a big garden!

What a lovely evening, and what a fabulous garden. Lots to think about…