Four Seasons

The gardens at our National Centre have been looking spectacular this year. This blog looks back throughout the seasons and features images of the work that has gone into keeping the gardens beautiful.  We wanted to share some of these moments with you this Christmas Eve.


Daffodils outside the Garden Room

January 2017: Daffodils outside the Garden Room

The first of a succession of daffodils are in full flower outside the Garden Room. This one, Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’ starts to show through the grass in November. A careful selection of species means we have a blaze of yellow and creamy white Narcissus from November until April, greeting visitors at the gate and cheering up the garden right around the main lawn and all across the large Wildflower Meadow.


Snowdrops in Bright’s Patch

February 2017: Snowdrops in Bright's patch

Each year the snowdrops increase in numbers, helped by additional planting. This year over 1000 new snowdrops were planted ‘in the green’ (the most successful method as opposed to planting bulbs). Other areas have snowdrops too, providing a succession –  down in the woods, under the horse chestnuts and the Gingko tree.


The Compost Area

This year the compost area received much attention. The skills of the garden team were called upon once again, this time for carpentry, and the compost heaps were furnished with attractive side walls. Feeding and mulching the garden with compost made on site from the garden’s cast offs has proved very beneficial for plant growth. The compost heaps are turned by a friendly farmer with his big tractor, while volunteers expend much energy filling the two huge compartments all year round and wheeling barrow loads of the finished product back to the trees and flower beds. Also, new this year to the Compost Area, are more holding beds, a line of fruit trees, new shrubs and climbers near the road and much tidying of the area.


Cornus ‘Wedding Cake tree’ – Inner Courtyard

The garden has many wonderful specimen trees and shrubs. The Inner Courtyard is home to the stunning Cornus with the common name of ‘Wedding Cake tree’, for obvious reasons. Careful pruning has ensured it provides interest without overwhelming this area which provides a calm peaceful atmosphere to start a garden walk.


Wildflower meadow full of Narcissi and view to Gazebo

Yellow Daffodils (smaller varieties similar to the wild daffodil) and white Narcissi bloom well into April or May and this year looked stunning covering a huge area in the Wildflower Meadow. The white flowers echo the white paintwork of the Gazebo door and windows.  As the Narcissi fade, the first of the wildflowers appear – the lovely vibrant blue Camassia – now increasing in numbers each year.


The Lavendar Garden

The Lavender Garden lived up to its name very well this year in early summer with several species flowering profusely. This area had much extra care this year, replacing some of the planting that had grown too big or old and introducing some new colours and forms but keeping to the limited soft colour palette.


Echinacea and the rose chafer

Getting up close to plants often pays off in terms of wildlife spotting. One of the developments in the garden over the last few years has been to make it more wildlife friendly and we have seen an increasing variety of species. The rose chafer pictured here is considered beneficial as it helps the composting process as a grub although can cause minor leaf damage but in the beetle stage its bright metallic green body is quite attractive.


Paddling in the water feature

The large water feature in front of the Lavender Garden by David Harber is a sundial set into a paddling pool with lovely reflections of the buildings in its centre.


Bench seat in the Cedar Garden

The intimate, colourful Cedar Garden has benches in each corner, providing private sitting areas engulfed in flowers and abundant foliage, with views to the Centre’s buildings or out into the wider landscape.


Hard at work with wheelbarrows

Trevor with granddaughter Sofia are caught on camera in perfect step, hard at work with wheelbarrows.


Autumn in the Cedar Garden

Early morning sunshine breaks through the mist and lights up the vivid red euonymus and the warm yellow of the acer in the far corner. Between them, seen beyond the soft yellow of the big lime, the gazebo stands out picturesquely against the misty further landscape.


Dew on the Euphorbia

One of the many advantages of regular volunteering is to experience the gardens in all weathers and conditions – and finding little gems like droplets of water shimmering in the sunlight.

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