Saturday, 30 June 2012

The Victorian Walled Garden at Edmonsham House

Last Wednesday was another grey, drizzly day. In the afternoon we drove up into Dorset, to see the gardens at Edmondsham House, in a hamlet just north of Verwood. The house is of Tudor origins and has Georgian additions. The gardens and parkland reflect this long history. There are the steeply grassed banks of a cock fighting pit from the Middle Ages. There are fine specimen trees and a pond in a shaded dell.
On our visit, it was the sheltered and colourful beauty of the Victorian walled garden that gave us the greatest pleasure on an otherwise damp and dull summer`s afternoon.

Delphiniums and other herbaceous perennials thrive on the alkaline soil of this landscape, which is at the southern edge of the chalk hills of Cranborne Chase.

Contrasting drifts of nepeta ( catnip) and acid green Alchimella mollis.

Soft grasses and flowering perennials border the gravel pathways.

There are scented  shrub roses

Several varieties of delicate cranesbill geraniums flower in clumps beside the path.

A deeply scented rose.

I liked the dark bronze leave of this rose. A lovely contrast to the surrounding brighter greens.

A climbing rose against the lichen covered red brick wall.

A Victorian chimney pot.

A large part of the walled garden is now an organic kitchen garden, carefully managed by the Gardener and his team. Short courses in organic gardening are sometimes held here.

A domesticated wild flower, Vipers bugloss, is part of the companion planting scheme that attracts bees and beneficial insects to the garden. Calendula and borage are also grown.

The outside of the walled garden, as seen from the lawn beside the house. Several climbing roses have been trained along the wall. One of the loveliest was a pale creamy apricot rose, with a sweet scent, that arched across the warm red brickwork at the end of this fine old wall.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

A Foal Beside the Road

This afternoon I drove home across the Forest after spending a few hours with an old friend in Brockenhurst. We worked together for over thirteen years so it is always good to see her again and catch up with her news. The roads were quiet so I stopped and got my camera out when I saw this sturdy New Forest filly foal grazing beside the verge.

In recent years, the Verderers and New Forest commoners have reduced the number of stallions running on the Forest and have also reduced the time when they are able to find the mares. Thankfully there are now fewer foals being born and their quality has improved. This is good for the breed but also better for the individual youngsters, who should hopefully find good homes or be kept to graze the Forest and become future brood mares.

 This filly could well be one who stays with her family group for the rest of her life, hefted to the particular area of the New Forest that is her home. She was not sticking close to one mare so I couldn`t work out who her mother was, but they were all nice ponies in good condition after the warm rain which has encouraged the grass to grow.

A confident youngster , growing well. All she needs to do is to stay away from the road, especially at night......

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

More Flowers on the Heath

At the edge of the heath, among grasses and young bracken fronds, tormentil is flowering. Its small, bright lemon flowers will stud the heath like scattered stars until autumn comes again.

Heath bedstraw hides the entrance to a rabbit burrow.

Tiny purple stems of heath speedwell grow on flattened, well grazed greens.

Gorse, bracken and bramble compete for space on a sandy bank.

Early flowers of cross leaved heath have recently appeared amid the gorse.

Foxgloves love shade at the edge of the wood....

....and sprays of wild roses feed bees among silver birches at the bottom of the hill.

Beside the lane, tormentil is scrambling up through  young bramble.....

....and the larger yellow flower of a garden-escape Icelandic poppy shines out from the foot of a tall old hedge.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

A Leopard Slug

I found this large and beautifully patterned Leopard Slug yesterday. It was out on a Forest green. Although well camouflaged, the shine of its thick slime trail brought it to my attention, so it has probably become a meal for a passing bird by now.

We rarely see Leopard slugs here. The ones that do most damage in the garden are much smaller but can decimate a lettuce plant overnight!

There is some interesting information about the Leopard Slug, Limax maximus, on Wikipedia. Apparently they are not gregarious, they have a strong homing instinct and they mate hanging upside down from a branch........

Monday, 25 June 2012

It`s Heath Spotted Orchid Time Again


There are certain wild flowers that mark specific times and seasons when you live and walk in one place for year upon year. The Heath Spotted Orchid is a sign of mid summer on the sandy New Forest heathlands, where it thrives in damp, often shady habitats. This morning I searched in the numerous grassy ravines in the valley below our hill and found the one secret place, untrodden and unseen, where the orchids always grow.

On a north facing slope, amid grasses, wood sage, and bramble, they will soon be overshadowed by the bracken fronds that grow greener and taller by the day.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Snapped Like Matchsticks.......

We are on the edge of a storm today. Walking around our hill with the dogs this morning, we realised that a usually dark corner of the lane seemed brighter. Trees were bending across a patch of stormy grey sky. At the side of the lane, two fine mature ash trees and a holly lay, felled by the wild winds of last night. One had just missed the cottage behind the hedge.

A closer look at the snapped off trunk showed evidence of disease, maybe a fungal rot, to the right  of the centre. Perhaps this weakness left the tree, in full leaf, unable to withstand the force of wind that pushed at it all night.

A hazy close up of the internal structure of the tree, snapped and torn in such clear geometric shapes.
When we first looked at this photo, we both had an image of the Twin Towers in New York on 9/11. How those dreadful images must be seared into the minds of everyone who saw them around the world.

The second ash tree had fallen at right angles to the first, uprooted at its base and lying across hedge and fence.

Again, there were signs of rot and disease in the roots nearest to the earth.

The cottage is empty at present, but its owner has a huge task ahead, mending fences, clearing snapped branches and the mass of green foliage that now submerges the garden.

A sad end to two lovely trees that shaded this Forest lane for many years.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

A Few Summer Flowers

We seem to have had weeks of grey skies and rain. When the sun came out yesterday, just for a few precious hours, I took some photographs of corners of the garden. A few flowers are surviving the wind, rain and low temperatures that the jet stream has brought us this summer.

Above, the scented Paul`s Himalayan Musk rose is coming into bloom, despite the main mass of the plant falling off the pergola in a recent storm.

Below are the first delphinium flowers, alongside self-set foxgloves. Geranium Shepherd`s Warning is at the front of the border.

Most of this year`s poppies had their lovely, fragile petals smashed to ribbons by driving rain, so these two are welcome survivors.

Ox-eye daisies , flattened by rain in the long grass.

Foxglove and the white campion, Dusty Miller.

Penstemon, Geranium Johnson`s Blue and early shrub roses.

The bright coral climbing rose, Lady Penelope.

In wilder corners grow comfrey and elder.....

.....woundwort and teasel.

Curry plant and catnip in sunshine, before the clouds rolled in from the wet South West and showers of rain fell all evening.