Archive for May, 2020

‘St. Swithun’ and other climbing roses

May 29, 2020

We both love roses and have planted countless new ones in the seven years we’ve been making this garden.  At the front of the house, in the Canal garden, we have several pink climbing and rambling roses.  Rosa ‘St. Swithun’ is a particular favourite.  Huge, double blooms.  Growing up the front of the house, we have ‘Lady of the Lake’ and ‘The Generous Gardener’.  Both are really starting to perform for us right now.

The Long Borders

May 28, 2020

The ‘Long Borders’ are the first big change we made to the garden, back in the winter of 2013/14. The borders are lined on one side by a copper beech hedge (now about 10 feet high) and on the other by a yew hedge, still only about 6 feet high.

All the plants in these borders have pastel coloured flowers and we have aimed to repeat the same plants throughout the borders.  We have, for example, a Ceanothus ‘Gloire de Versailles’ in each of the four quadrant borders.  Other recurring plants include a deep pink lupin ‘The Pages’, various delphiniums, Rosa ‘Harlow Carr’, Polemonium ‘Lilac Giant’ and different pink and purple geraniums.

We have tried to create view points along two of the axes and have recently had a platform built for a large urn, at the top of the borders. When the hedges surrounding the borders are fully mature, we hope to create a sense of being in a ‘garden room’, with glimpsed views outside it.

We hope you enjoy this short video.

Bees on the camassia …

May 27, 2020

Whilst on our evening stroll around the garden last night, we came across dozens and dozens of bees on the camassia in the White Garden.  It was too lovely not to capture on film, so here it is.  You’ll need the sound up to get the full effect.  It’s also lovely to hear the lambs baa-ing away in the background.  Our dog Bennett, crashes the video at the very end.

The White Garden

May 26, 2020

Today’s short video tour of the garden is of the White Garden.  When we moved into the house, this part of the garden was just lawn, with a small bed under the sitting room window.  Our hand was forced into making dramatic changes to this part of the garden, when we had to install a new septic tank system.  This involved cutting a gap in the boundary hedge, in order to get a digger in, which then dug an enormous hole in what is now the White Garden.  We were left with an obtrusive series of tank lids, at ground level and a big hole in the hedge!

We decided to make a large rectangular, brick-edged border around the septic tank.  We also dug out another smaller bed along the side of the garden.  The gap in the hedge was turned into an attractive feature when my very talented brother-in-law made us a pair of beautiful gates. This now provides one of the few views out of the garden, onto rolling pasture.

We knew we wanted some height in the White Garden and thought about adding four pleached hornbeam, to surround a small seating area.  The price of mature pleached hornbeam was prohibitive however, so we decided to innovate with four, large, upright pillars, up which we grow a white climbing rose (‘Snow goose’) and white clematis.  The pillars were quickly Christened ‘The Henge’ and it is almost now complete with a levelled hard-surface for that seating area.

The planting in the White Garden is a mixture of perennials propagated here (lupins, geums, ammi, orlaya grandiflora and sweet peas) and some more choice plants we have bought over the years.  The roses are ‘Snow Goose’, ‘Partridge’ (a ground cover rose), ‘Rambling Rector’ (a vigorous climber growing up the cherry tree), ‘Susan Williams Ellis’ and ‘Little white Pet’.  We have Trachelospermum Jasminoides growing up the walls of the house and use Stachys Byzantina and Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ for their lovely silver-grey foliage.

We hope you enjoy the video.




Fountain switch on …

May 26, 2020

This was the moment last month when we first switched on the fountain in the large formal pond in the Canal Garden.  Complete with countdown!

The ‘Canal Garden’ is named in honour of the Leominster Canal which used to start at Wharf House.  Wharf House was also the head office of the canal company.  Although now dry, the old canal still attracts a few visitors and there are plenty of signs of its old locks etc.. The large rectangular pond in the Canal Garden is a slight echo of the canal.

The colour scheme in the Canal Garden is pinks to purples.  There are three lovely deep pink lilacs, borders edged in Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’ and the climbing roses ‘The Generous Gardener’ and ‘Lady Of The Lake’.


Cutting bed, greenhouse and the hens

May 22, 2020

We think of our working area as the engine house of the garden.  It’s where we do all the messy but necessary jobs.  Over the years, it has evolved and in addition to a paved area for sorting out pots, sowing seeds, pricking out etc., we have a nursery bed for young plants, a cutting bed for cut flowers, a heated greenhouse, a polytunnel, a fruit cage and most importantly of all, our five hens.

Making a nursery bed has probably been our wisest gardening decision of recent years.  We lose far fewer new plants by being able to grow them on.  The cutting bed has probably been the source of the most pleasure however.  From March to October, it is such a joy to have so many cut flowers in the house.

It’s the part of the garden we spend most time in and although it’s not pretty, we thought you might enjoy this short video of it.

The stream & island

May 21, 2020

A stream runs along the southern edge of our garden.  It actually marks the boundary between the counties of Worcestershire and Shropshire and it feeds the River Rea downstream.  There is a small island in the stream and when we moved into the house, it was little more than a weedy hump.  The stream itself was also in pretty bad shape.  It had silted up badly over the years and was overrun with water forget-me-knot.

We have gradually brought the stream into the condition we wanted.  We raised the water level by building a new weir downstream.  We also had part of the stream dredged.  Then we had to decide what to do with the island.  We considered planting it up but it’s really too small to make much of a garden.  We then thought about having it as a seating area: the views up and down the stream are very pretty.  But how to do it?  Eventually, we saw a small garden at Chelsea, which had a dock, edged in sleepers.  We saw the potential for our island and between Christmas and New Year 2018, with considerable help from family, we began the work.  We repaired the collapsing bridge, edged the island with sleepers and overcame the problem of the ‘hump’ by putting decking over it.  We then planted the edge up with marginal plants.  This is the result.  We really love it.




The laburnum walk

May 19, 2020

We are lucky enough to have a laburnum walk here.  It was planted by our predecessors and we think it is about 30 years old.  Right now, it’s an absolute mass of yellow blooms and when one walks through it, the sound of the bees buzzing, is really extraordinary.

The best place to view the avenue of laburnum is from the orchard, which is higher up, so one can look down on it.  And that’s the problem.  The previous owners didn’t prune the trees, so the blooms have moved progressively upwards.  Most pruning books advise against cutting into old laburnum wood and if we were to prune it, that’s what we’d have to do.  By necessity we have done some pruning.  The walk was marred by a network of old metal posts, that had long since lost their use and in getting rid of them, we had to cut out some old wood.  It looks as though those trees may have sprouted fresh new growth from lower down but we’re not completely sure why that is.  Our current thinking is to prune gradually, over a three year period but if anyone has any advice, we’d be very grateful to hear it.



May 18, 2020

Virtual visits …

May 18, 2020

We expected to be welcoming visitors to our garden here at Wharf House this Summer, as part of the National Garden Scheme.  For almost a century, the NGS has been raising money for nursing charities, by opening private gardens to the public.  We love having people visit our garden, just as we thoroughly enjoy visiting other people’s.  After all, there’s no better way to pick up ideas for one’s own garden than by visiting others.

Since it looks unlikely that we’ll be able to have visitors this year, we thought we might try making some short videos, showing different parts of our garden. We hope you enjoy them.


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