Tag: witch hazel

Garden Inspiration: Dunham Massey, February 2019

20190215 Dunham Massey lake wall

For Jo’s birthday the other week we both took the day off work and made a tram-and-bus trip down to the National Trust’s Dunham Massey to see their winter garden and maybe pick up a few tips and ideas for enhancing our own patch at this time of year.

It was a glorious day, sun-drenched but with enough of a chill still in the air to remind you that it’s not Spring just yet, not quite. The car park was packed and the gardens likewise – it was the last Friday of half term for one of the Manchester local authorities and maybe Cheshire as well – but somehow I managed to shoot forty-odd pics without too many surplus bodies wandering into frame.

The winter garden at Dunham is a woodland glade writ large: huge mature trees surround an area of planted smaller specimens – more of those later – and the ground, at this time of year, is a stardust-scatter of snowdrop, aconite and crocus, with larger clumps of hellebore and iris clustering beneath the shrubs and winter-interest trees.

Here’s a run-through of the sights we saw. I’m afraid you’ll have to imagine the scents and the sounds of the early foraging bees buzzing in the Spring flowers for yourself. (Likewise the ice cream we enjoyed on the way back to the bus…)

Hamamelis (witch hazel)

Jo and I both love a witch hazel. We have a specimen in our back garden – Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’, young but developing nicely – and seeing the trees at Dunham in their prime, allowed to grow low and wide and festooned with flowers, was a real treat.

20190215 Dunham Massey Hamamelis inflorescence

20190215 Dunham Massey Hamamelis orange

20190215 Dunham Massey Hamamelis inflorescence

20190215 Dunham Massey Hamamelis soft focus

20190215 Dunham Massey Hamamelis yellow

20190215 Dunham Massey Hamamelis glade

Floral Delights

Late winter and early spring flowers are always such a wonderfully uplifting and encouraging sight, especially the more subtle, paler species – Galanthophiles are in for a real treat at Dunham at the moment – that grab their chance to shine at the centre of attention for a while before the larger, showier Naricssi and friends rock up and hog the limelight.

20190215 Dunham Massey Helleborus niger

20190215 Dunham Massey Helleborus niger

20190215 Dunham Massey Galanthus

20190215 Dunham Massey Galanthus en masse(y)

20190215 Dunham Massey Galanthus

20190215 Dunham Massey Galanthus

20190215 Dunham Massey crocus

20190215 Dunham Massey viola group

20190215 Dunham Massey viola

20190215 Dunham Massey Viola

Trees

There’s a superb mix of trees at Dunham Massey, from massively mature woodland species to the smaller, more delicately apportioned Magonlias, Cornus and Hamamelis that dwell happily in the dappled shade of their much larger cousins. Plus a feature Sorbus with bright white fruits and red-pink stems that stands beside the house and is well worth seeing.

20190215 Dunham Massey lakeside

20190215 Dunham Massey ancient oak

20190215 Dunham Massey Dogwood and Bark

20190215 Dunham Massey Corylus avellana 'Cotorta' I presume?

20190215 Dunham Massey Birch on Blue

20190215 Dunham Massey Corylus catkins

20190215 Dunham Massey Corylus catkins

20190215 Dunham Massey Sorbus and sky

20190215 Dunham Massey Sorbus fruit

Single-Stem Silver Birches

One of the feature-planting sections in the winter garden is this stand of Betula pendula. There’s another section just over the path of trees that have been allowed to grow multi-stemmed, but they don’t have quite the same visual impact as these ones do:

20190215 Dunham Massey Betula pendula single stem group

20190215 Dunham Massey Betula pendula single stem group

20190215 Dunham Massey Betula pendula single stem group

Form, Texture and Contrast

As a gardener and a (very) amateur photographer, I’m always interested in form, shape, shadow and especially contrast, particularly between the man-made and the natural. I love to see a wall or canal bank that was clearly laid out straight, true and pristine, but over the years has gradually been reclaimed, re-greened and softened by encroaching plant life.

20190215 Dunham Massey canal bank

20190215 Dunham Massey Magnolia buds

20190215 Dunham Massey bark light and shade

20190215 Dunham Massey copper bark

20190215 Dunham Massey Betula utilis?

20190215 Dunham Massey dried inflorescence

20190215 Dunham Massey dried inflorescence

20190215 Dunham Massey Citrus

There you go, a few picto-memories of our hugely enjoyable visit to one of the finest winter gardens in the North West. It’s not too late to go see the same seasonal delights for yourself. See the Dunham Massey website for details of opening times.

If you’ve enjoyed a trip to Dunham recently, or can recommend any excellent winter gardens, please feel free to share your thoughts, via the comments.

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Gallery: Signs of Life

In common with much of the rest of the country, we’ve had a burst of proper wintry weather for the past few days: snow, sleet, hail, high winds and rain, usually all within the space of an hour.

Despite the inclement conditions, our back garden is showing signs of precious life. Spurred into action by a mild December, most likely, and probably regretting it just a little now, but clinging on regardless.

Here are a few snaps I took yesterday afternoon, in-between the worst of the showers:

January 2018 Hamamelis flowers
It’s Hama(mellis x intermedia ‘Diane’) time!

That’s our brand new Witch Hazel. We opted for the ‘Diane’ cultivar because we’re planning on planting a Cornus mas in the same area, which has similar-looking flowers in yellow rather than Diane’s deeper reds. Hopefully they’ll coincide at some point and provide a nice contrast to one another.

January 2018 Hellebore
Helleborus nigra are amongst the earliest winter flowering plants to put on a display.
January 2018 Hellebore flower
We rather enjoy this lovely Helleborus nigra hybrid with its picotee petal edging.

We’re not sure whether this is one of the hellebore hybrids that we bought from Ashwood Nurseries a couple of years back, or one of our own hybridised seedlings. Jo has been collecting the latter from beneath their parent plants and carefully potting them up and nurturing them along. Either way, it’s particularly lovely, with that delicate purple rim on the white flowers.

January 2018 primrose
I suspect this Primula (vulgaris?) had a bit of a shock when the hail came down…

One newly-planted section of our back garden is liberally scattered with primroses. This one tentatively flowered during the mild December and seems to be weathering the worst that January can throw at it since.

Janaury 2018 winter foliage
Yeah… can’t actually remember what we planted here. Should have made a better site-plan…
January 2018 bulb foliage
This Tulipa (?) and Digitalis clump seems to be doing well despite the ice and snow.

A fair fer bulbs and other plants started putting on fresh growth a few weeks ago. Let’s hope they’re not too badly frosted and knocked-back by the recent drop in temperatures.

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