A North Wales Alpine Gardener's Diary
This entry: August 2017 - Entry 63
No, you are not looking at the wrong site, as alpines of interest are few and far between in our garden in August I thought I would start off by drawing your attention to one of our favourtite places in the Cotswolds, which happens to be within 15 minutes of my sister's home near Chipping Norton - Batsford Park and Arboretum. Many of you will have visited it but some may not have done, if not it is well worthwhile making a special effort as the very extensive arboretum is located on a beautiful hillside with great views in the grounds of Batsford House, built between 1889 and 1892 and now the home of Lord Dulverton. It is perhaps most well known as the home in the early 20th C of the famous Mitford sisters. The very well maintained arboretum, which was started by the first Lord Redesdale in the 1870s, has one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of trees, and to a lesser extent shrubs in Britain, all very clearly labelled (unlabelled or poorly labelled plant collections of any kind are a pet hate of mine) is a joy to walk around, and there is generally sufficient space between the trees to take photographs without one specimen obscuring the view of another. There are over 2,850 labelled specimens including some 1, 300 different trees, shrubs and bamboos. Batsford has held the National Collection of Japanese flowering cherries since 2002, comprising at least 70% of known cultivars. Other notable collections include acers, bamboos, magnolias, pines, oaks and sorbus. The pictures here hopefully give an idea of what the arboretum looks like (in August, so no flowering cherries!), but you will have to visit yourself to appreciate the wealth of unusual trees that adorn this special place.
Rosa moyesii 'Geranium'
Hydrangea grandiflora 'Limelight'
Mill Dene Garden, Blockley
Just ten minutes drive from Batsford in the pretty village of Blockley lies a hidden gem in the form of Mill Dene Garden, developed over the past 30 years by its current owners, Wendy Dare and her husband; it is an RHS Partner garden. Developed around the wonderful centuries old mill house, mill pond and stream, the garden is mainly on a very steeply sloping site with several levels, each with a main theme - potager, soft fruit garden, rose garden, cricket lawn (with old benches from the Mound Stand at Lords), vegetable plot - on a very steeply sloping site, it must have been the very devil to lay out in the first place and be very labour demanding to maintain, and there were signs that parts of the garden may be suffering a little as a result. Apparently a feature in spring is an extensive display of Darwin tulips, which the owner tells us survive and flower well for up to ten years without lifting, additional new bulbs being added each year. Roses old and new are also a feature, but we were a little late for them. One plant that I coveted was a large Clematis heracleifolia against an old Cotswold stone wall.
Potager seen from the summer house on the top terr
Back to Bod Hyfryd
So, having upon our return home finished, with my gardener Jenny's help, the long delayed and sorely needed repotting of my smallish collection of bulbs, a job I never relish, we are more or less up to date with tasks in the garden as autumn approaches. A few plants are still worth a look, such as the lovely little Autumn snowflake (Acis autumnalis) of which I have several largish clumps in various positions around the garden; it seems to be very adaptable as long as it is not in dense shade.
Sempervivella alba in a trough
Fruits of Arum italicum 'Marmoratum'
Rhododendrons full of promise
This year's mix of rain and sun has been excellent for the development of flower buds on the rhododendrons in this garden. I finish with two mouthwatering photos full of potential for the spring of 2018, not to mention the glorious bonus of the sumptuous indumentum on the foliage of R. yakushimanum 'Koichiro Wada' which is still almost perfect.
Rhododendron yakushimanum 'Koichiro Wada'