See us on Gardener’s World

Our garden and Natural Pool in winter on BBC Gardener’s World, episode 31, with Adam Frost, Friday 27th October.

Christmas Wreath Making Workshop

Ellicar Gardens, Gringley on the Hill

Friday 1 December 2017

10am - 12.30pm

Where is Spring?

What a gardening disaster this spring is turning out to be! Had so many plans for the garden this weekend but woke up to 2” of snow this morning so all that went out the window!

However, I have indulged in some productive armchair gardening that is nearly as good as, and sometimes even better than, the real thing. With armchair gardening, plants never die and borders are stunning.

This morning I sat and planned the new 20m long beach border adjacent to the pool – quite a tricky border acting as a buffer between the garden and a late season wildflower meadow (yet to be sown and another potential gardening disaster!).

I have chosen airy grasses in swathes like deschampsias and molineas, with some miscanthus in between (miscanthus are great here for creating a localised wind shield for other plants to cosy up to). I will weave through the grasses some native meadow wildflowers like filipendula, burnett, scabious, oxe eye daisies and weld, together with some naturalistic looking reliable perennials like echinacea pallida, veronicastrum, eupatorium.  For structure we planted an Acer rubrum and Euoymus europaeus- both have fantastic Autumn leaf colour too.

I’m hoping to create an ornamental version of the wildflower meadow beyond, that will look lovely near the water’s edge and fit in well with the wild garden beyond. I can’t wait to get started on this border- I only hope it looks half as good in reality as it does from my armchair!!

Roses Arrive

rosesRoses arrived today- a few more white flowering ramblers to train along the pergola that borders the rose garden. R. Felicite Perpetue – clothed in lovely almost pom-pom like white flowers that arrive late to follow on from R. Sander’s White. Felicitie  keeps her glossy foliage throughout winter too- the only down side to this beautiful rose is its thorns- wicked to prune!

Echo Gives Birth

Echo Gives BirthEcho gave birth last night to Gloria- a pretty little black calf with white face and freckled ears – down to her Hereford father and Aberdeen Angus mother. Now we are just waiting for Ebony to give birth.

Goose Esme has laid her second egg. Consequently Oscar has become very protective of his paddock and wife and has decided to bite the hand that feeds him- literally.

Snowdrops

Having visited some beautiful winter gardens recently with their carpets of snowdrops, I have snowdrop envy. I’m on a mission to spread snowdrops around this garden! We seem to have a few clumps of G. Elwesii, so they are getting moved around every spare gardening minute. What I really covet is Galanthus S. Arnott- I would love sheets of S. Arnott in the garden smelling of honey- my one little bulb has an awful lot of clumping up to do before that happens!

Winter Garden

Winter GardenIn between the wet and snow this weekend, we managed to grab a couple of hours in the Winter Garden- William gave me a beautiful snakebark  Acer and a really posh Magnolia sieboldii  the other day, so we shuffled a few plants around and have planted them amongst the fiery stemmed Cornus ‘Midwinter Fire’ and between an Acer griseum and a burgundy barked Euonymus europeus.

I’m so pleased with the new border- all coppery tones with Hammamelis ‘Diane’, Bergenia, Carex comans,  and  I spread snowdrops around in between. In fact looking along the border through to the goat paddock even the goats tone in with their rusty coloured coats!!

Ellicar Gardens

Freezing, wet, windy- the garden is in suspended animation just waiting for a few warmer days to burst into spring life. In fact the only sign of spring being around the corner in the garden is the birds. They are frantic!

We have never seen the bird station so busy all winter- over 20 goldfinches at one time, swinging from the black nyger feeders, blue tits, coal tits, greenfinches, tree sparrows squabbling, starlings, the floor is running with rosy breasted chaffinches, blackbirds and dunnocks. A spotted woodpecker has been and gone together with a a stock dove, and always the pheasants are hoovering up below-  they are getting quite territorial now.

But what I want to know is what are the house sparrows up to under the rosemary bush? They arrive in gangs busy themselves and disappear- are they collecting the old leaves to line their nests? Very aromatic!

Looking out over the gravel garden (which I’m itching to cut back and tidy up, but can’t because the birds are still eating the seed heads)- the sparrows are busy collecting dead, tufty Stipa tenuissima- they carry it up to their nests in the eaves, dropping half of it in the process, so I have twice as much to tidy up now- but this is what our garden is about- sharing it with our wildlife.

In fact the gravel garden – now in its second year- has brought an astounding amount of bird life up to the house. I suspect it has created a microclimate for insects, with its free draining mulch of gravel- certainly the wrens and other smaller birds love hopping amongst the plants and picking through the gravel. We leave all the seed heads through winter – goldfinches sway like acrobats from the wiry Verbena bonariensis stems and enjoy feeding on Echinacea seeds, and the grasses like Pannicums and Miscanthus.

I suppose the one good thing about all this cold weather is the snow drops- they have flowered forever! I have started spreading them around the garden and have visions of a snow drop walk down to Hannah’s Wood- I wonder if the family could be persuaded to spend some quality snow drop planting time with me- probably not!