Chelsworth Open Gardens

I spent an extremely enjoyable day yesterday running my Wildcarrot Photography stall in the garden of  Church View, Chelsworth, as part of the 50th Anniversary of this special event.

Last year, I was pleased to secure 6 month’s worth of places in the 50th anniversary calendar – and in doing so, was fortunate to meet and get to know the owner of Church View’s beautiful garden.

It was wonderful to meet so many lovely people throughout the day, who thoroughly enjoyed looking around the garden – and were very kind & complimentary about my framed images and cards.

Thank you to all the people who came to visit my stall – and those who purchased items and/or expressed an interest in my work.

Most of all, thanks to Christine & Bob for all their support, help – and the most beautiful setting to showcase my work …

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Boxford Open Gardens – Sunday 4th June 2017

The prospect of another gloriously sunny weekend added to my eager anticipation of visiting Boxford Open Gardens in Suffolk – celebrating its 20th year.

In 2016, on a scorchingly hot day, I had to juggle my time between Boxford’s delights and the beautiful garden at Leaven Hall in Leavenheath – which had its doors open under the National Garden Scheme.
I was therefore looking forward to covering more ground at Boxford this year and definitely managing to visit some of the outlying gardens in Edwardstone & Groton.

Full of determination and excitement, I purchased my programme and made a start opposite St Mary’s Church – at Chequers, a former coaching inn …

Chequers.

My quest of photographing 24 Gardens in 6 hours seemed remotely feasible until I stepped over the threshold into this awe-inspiring garden, which managed to captivate me for well over an hour !

I started in the Walled Garden and was amazed to find that the land behind the house was far ranging. There were many beautiful flowers, arranged in an informal style – the borders flowing harmoniously from one colour to the next.

When I turned around to face the house, I was pleasantly surprised by the most picturesque view of St Mary’s church tower rising up behind the characterful Chequers itself.


I loved the gentle nature of Walled Garden. Nothing grand or showy – just charming … I found the palette of colours – provided by Geraniums, Veronica, Alliums and Euphorbia – to be very pleasing.

There were many individual flowers that caught my eye -:

A path from the Walled Garden led through a vegetable patch to a gate in a crinkle-crankle wall …

Once through, the garden opened up into an area of more greenery – trees, shrubs and a slope down towards a wooden bridge.
This bridge led me across the River Box (which flowed delightfully through the wider expanses of the garden) and took me onto a huge meadow area with trees, a pond and natural planting.

I was enthralled by Chequers, despite now being seriously behind schedule – yet couldn’t think of a better place to lose all track of time …

 

Mary’s House.

This was my first stop along Swan Street – a tiny, but quaint cottage garden. It belonged to a home bequeathed to the church by its owner and was a sun-trap full of colour.

 

Hendrick House.

The sun was at its hottest whilst I was visiting this beautiful garden, presenting me with some tricky conditions for my photography. It was a fun challenge to work with that in order to produce images which truly represented the beauty of the place.

The garden occupies a large area backing onto the River Box and the garden at Chequers. It has similarly beautiful views of the church.

The following are my favourite photographs, with a special mention going to the impressive delphiniums, whose bold blues & purples were still able to wow me even in the extremely bright sunshine -:

I mustn’t forget my favourite garden sculpture, which I remembered fondly from last year …

 

Number 17 – Swan Street.

This was my favourite garden from last year and it was easy to see why I had been seduced by its beauty. Smaller than the previous garden (which it abutted), this still had the wonderful feel & atmosphere to it that I had loved so much before. The look of the garden was quite different to last year, due to the flowers all blooming earlier. There were, however, most capable & beautiful replacements to step into the limelight. It was tricky to pick out individual areas as favourites because it was the overall planting design and combinations of colours that meant the whole garden worked for me as a delightful place to sit, relax and stare ( and take photographs, of course).

Mention must go, however, to the gorgeous climbing rose, Constance Spry (above & below),  which I had spotted eagerly from the previous garden.

The Iris siberica were coming to an end – yet were still as beautiful as last year.

I especially loved the owner’s new planting arrangement of Poppy, Geranium, Cerinthe and Valerian.

I was also lucky enough to catch a cheeky photo of Hacker the dog …

 

Weavers House.

Next stop was the garden belonging to Maggie Thorpe, from the Suffolk Plant Heritage Society. Always a pleasure to meet and so knowledgeable; Maggie has a gorgeous suntrap of a garden with an abundance of beautiful plants worked perfectly into a small courtyard area,  full of interest and attractive combinations and colours.

My favourites this year (as it looked quite different to last) were the dainty rose, Ballerina, and the exotic Carpenteria Californica – with flowers like Japanese anenomes.

 

Number 55, Swan Street.

This was a new garden of a recently-built property, a little further along Swan Street. Related to the family at Hendrick House, the owner had set out some very attractive landscaping & beds – ready for what will be a beautiful garden of the future. The owner explained that lots of plants had come from her family’s garden, so it is clear that it will be a garden with an excellent choice of species. Starring already were the striking delphiniums and lupins in the rear borders – as well as a lovely rose in the front garden.

 

I look forward to seeing how the garden has matured by 2018 !

 

Crown House, Groton.

My last garden of the day involved a trip out to Groton on the shuttle minibus. Maggie had encouraged me to visit – saying that Crown House was a garden not to be missed – and one to linger in for the remainder of the day. I was also swayed to venture up the hill by a message I had recently received, regarding last year’s Boxford article on my Wildcarrot blog.  A fellow blogger, under the pen name ‘Chloris’, had visited my post and sent her hopes that I would come to visit her garden this year. I had no idea which of the outlying gardens ‘Chloris’ had created, but was keen to see if I could find out. I was delighted to find that I chosen the correct one – and was able to meet ‘Chloris’ in person !

So many delightful plants, unusual varieties and a lovely serene, peaceful feeling about the garden, soon let me know that I had chosen well. There were lots of interesting elements – such as the beach garden – which inspired me and renewed my interest in getting my beach hut & beach area finally underway. It was especially interesting to see the horned poppy – which I will definitely be planting at Marlborough House.

There was also an interesting alpine gravel garden – with an eye-catching Rhodhypoxis baurii …

Here are a few of my other favourites -:

My overriding pleasure from this garden, however, came from the roses. Firstly the 2 tree-climbers: although one, Grace, is not a climber – it has just taken to its location superbly well and adapted to tree-living …

The single/semi-double roses were a joy and it made such a refreshing change to see them featured so prominently.

There were also plenty of beautiful doubles in a myriad shades of pink. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a lovely collection of roses in such a natural, cottage-garden setting – truly wonderful.

I’m so glad I finished my thoroughly enjoyable day here, as there was so much to see & photograph.

I would love to discover the name of every rose I’ve featured and I’m hoping that ‘Chloris’ will let me know in due course, so that I can update my galleries.

 

This is the longest post I’ve completed so far on my blog, which is a testament to the extremely high standard of gardens at this year’s event. It is much too tricky to pick a favourite …

 

Thanks to all the friendly, welcoming owners who were happy for me to spend a long time in each of their gardens, enabling me to get some amazing images. I do hope that you’ve enjoyed seeing your wonderful creations displayed in my post.

See you all – and hopefully a few more in 2018 …

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Snake’s head Fritillaries

Fritillaria meleagris is one of my favourite all-time plants. 

I think it’s because the Snake’s head Fritillary is essentially a rare wildflower of damp meadows and holds that same romantic fascination for me as orchids – although it has become more common in garden centres over the past few years. I have some gorgeous specimens in my back garden, which seem to thrive without the damp conditions.

I always look forward to the arrival of the fritillaries at East Bergholt Place (Place for Plants), as to me it seems the same as viewing them in the wild. They grow in a damp and sloped meadow area – in a random, wild fashion – and are as far away from a border plant as you could get. The individual nodding, chequered flower heads all seem to have their own distinct character and I adore photographing them. Here are my favourites from the first blooms of this Spring …

 

Wood Anemone

This dainty purple anemone was all on its own in one of the wooded areas of East Bergholt Place Garden ( Place for Plants) and just called out to me to have its portrait taken.

I believe it to be Anemone nemorosa ‘Bowle’s Purple’.

Three Camellias and a Magnolia …

These beautiful flowers were captured at East Bergholt Place – Place for Plants …

These camellia blooms were still in pristine condition – so I was able to show their immaculate and complex petal formations. Nature is truly amazing ..!

This magnolia’s colour worked perfectly against the clear blue sky. I love the texture of those beautiful cupped petals …

Narcissus Photoshoot – Hillhouse Farm

My third Narcissus Blogpost highlights a beautiful garden that is literally just around the corner from my house in Boxted. 

I am extremely lucky to be able to enjoy this wonderful and rather unique area , which I feel resembles a country park rather than a traditional garden. It hugs the contours of the Hill, as its name suggests and gives wonderful view across the valley towards the other part of the village and St Peter’s Church. There are trees, shrubs and a lawned meadow, a natural pond and an ancient beech grove. And at the moment – a wondrous display of daffodils …

 It gives me a great deal of pleasure all year round, however, being able to have readily available access to my latest plant fascination has been such a great photographic opportunity – and the owner has planted dozens of different cultivars to be enjoyed throughout the whole Spring season.

Poeticus cultivars are amongst my favourites and are late bloomers, along with ‘tazetta’ daffodils, as below -:

This white daffodil has a delicate, exquisite beauty …

This gorgeous double is called ‘Bridal Crown’

There were so many different types to enjoy -:

One of my challenges is to try to name all the different cultivars – so I am hoping that I can enlist some help from the garden owner !

My time spent amongst the daffodils in that beautiful garden – with the golden afternoon sun and deep blue sky – was nearing an end. There was a hint of  mist rising from the valley and the view through the ancient beech trees taking in that wonderful view seems an apt image to conclude my post. 

Whatever the weather holds for tomorrow; I know that this corner of Boxted will be full of Sunshine …

Narcissus Photoshoot – Part Two

Everywhere I have visited over the past few weeks – camera in hand – has had an amazing display of daffodils. All shapes, sizes and colour combinations.

Here are some more of my favourites …

Firstly, these narcissus were from the Place For Plants at East Bergholt – :

Then there were the beautiful specimens in my friend’s garden in Chelsworth – which gave me my first experience of a ‘pink-trumpeted’ daffodil …

 

These last two were captured on local walks around Boxted Village -:

It’s totally about sunshine …

Springtime – Narcissus Photoshoots (Part One)

Each new season that arrives brings with it a fresh lesson from Mother Nature.

I somehow seem to see an all-too-familiar species of flower in a completely different light – really appreciating its beauty and importance – as if I’m seeing it for the very first time.

It’s a strange, but nevertheless welcome experience – which gives me a great deal of pleasure, as well as many photographic opportunities.

Now is the time for the narcissus to steal my attention – as its many beautiful cultivars seem to radiate ‘quintessential’ Springtime from everywhere around me …

 

 

I’ve had miniature Tête á Tête daffodils growing around my pond at Marlborough House for more than 15 years – and have always loved them. Here they are with one of my bantams …

 

 

On my February visit to Beth Chatto’s Gardens, I found 3 early-flowering species; Rijnveld’s Early Sensation, Cedric Morris and Narcissus cyclamanieus, with the latter capturing my heart because of its daintiness.

 

 

It was my visit to Anglesey Abbey in early March, however, where my fascination really began – when I took the Hoe Fen Trail through the woods amongst a myriad of bluish/green leaves resembling those of onions or leeks. Each stalk had a bud ready to burst through its brown papery sheath – and I found myself fascinated by taking images of these daffodils before they had even come into bloom. From that point on, I was hooked.

 

 

The 2017 daffodil season is the most glorious and long-lived that I can ever recall – and I have fallen in love with so many different cultivars.

They have all been wonderful subjects to photograph – so please see more in Part Two …

 

East Bergholt Place – Place for Plants

I was fortunate to spend a very peaceful March day visiting the gardens at East Bergholt Place (The Place for Plants).  It is my nearest showcase garden – together with its lovely plant nursery – so it is always a pleasure to visit.

I was hoping to get images of some later varieties of Snowdrop – and felt eager to discover what else was on show. The weather was fine, with a gentle sun – and the air was still. All perfect for some serious photography …

I wasn’t sure where to start and so decided to complete a quick circuit around the main paths to plan my Photoshoot. Surprisingly, my friend Lisa and I were the only people in the garden. We both went our individual ways, so it was therefore very easy for me to feel at one with my surroundings and the wildlife of the garden. There was a soothing soundtrack of bird song, interspersed with the occasional cries of local buzzards soaring on thermals and the cackling laughs of Green Woodpeckers. I was amazed to hear Tawny Owls calling to each other too – all the birds seemed to sense that Spring had arrived and that there was much to organise …

Grey squirrels scampered in the trees above my head, whilst the first plant that I decided to photograph – a marvellous Rhododendron arboreum in pink – was the feeding station for hundreds of softly-humming bees, gratefully collecting pollen from its voluptuous goblet-like blooms. It was the only rhododendron flowering in the garden, so it was easy to see why they had ‘made a bee-line’ towards it !!

 

 

The fact that I was too early for the magnolia and rhododendrons in general made my Photoshoot easier – as I could concentrate on a few star species. Daffodils, late-flowering snowdrops, snowflakes, hellebores and a few specimen shrubs caught my eye – with lots more spring interest only a bud-bursting breath away.

The snowdrops in the open were thick-leaved with large bulbous blooms. There were larger drifts of different varieties in the more wooded areas, nestling up to the trunks of trees.  I know that garden owner Rupert Eley is a galanthophile, so no doubt he will be able to put a name to all of these ..?

 

 

Here and there were dotted tiny yellow ‘sunbeams’ …

 

 

There were several different types of daffodil – and the shafts of gentle sunlight encouraged me to see more in them than I have done in previous years. The weather seems to have been perfect for an amazing show of blooms this year – and these are just a few of my favourite images.

 

 

The following Narcissus bulbocodium were almost hidden away between shrubs near the top of the garden. They have the charming common name of ‘hoop petticoat daffodil’ and chive-like leaves. I’m sure that I have never noticed these before – as their delicate nodding heads and pale lemony-cream petals seemed so dainty and almost translucent in the soft sunlight.

 

 

Back on the wet meadowy-slopes of the fritillary area, I  found Snowflakes dotted around holding sway whilst the fritillaries were preparing themselves for their starring role. These beautiful plants actually made better photographic subjects than the snowdrops, as they had a poise and character about them that made for some stunning shots.

 

 

The ground was extremely boggy and I could actually hear the water trickling and gurgling down the slope. No wonder the fritillaries love it there so much. I cannot wait for their return.

A few stunning shrubs caught my eye …

 

 

…and even the different shades of green were bewitching.

 

 

There were also many beautiful hellebores  – some of which I believe Rupert is trialling – with numbers instead of names. This year has seen my awakening for these gorgeous long-blooming plants and I found a stunning white and some lovely dusky pink/purple doubles.

 

 

My last stop was to admire a budding magnolia – Magnolia ‘Sundew’ – with its gorgeous magenta-pink petals preparing to emerge …

 

 

Time flew by as is normal when I’m photographing gardens and I spent an entire day thoroughly enjoying myself. I know that I will be returning within the next two weeks to marvel at the magnolias & rhododendrons. The garden feels so full of promise ..