Dove cottage nurseries

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Aug 162014
 

After finishing my training at RHS Wisley nearly 5 years ago, gulp, I spent some time working in rural Holland as described in other places on this site. One afternoon while busy working in the Nursery  a lovely but out of place Yorkshire lilt was audible across the beds. I said hello and spent a delightful few hours speaking with Stephen and Kim of Dove Cottage Nurseries. In short, they run a beautiful garden and nursery near Huddersfield in the naturalised style popularised by Oudolf and were travelling around Holland and west Germany to see the concentration of gardens and nurseries who work in this style. Anyway, I was invited along to see their garden and nursery should i ever be travelling nearby.

Last week a visit to a quarry took me just down the road and 4 and half years later i made the visit. The wait was worth every day and i would have waited longer. A beautiful garden run by beautiful people and a very interesting selection of plants of which some filled the hire car on the way home. Some so interesting there are probably less than 20 pots in the uk and will see their way into wider cultivation over the next few years. Hopefully we can propagate and be able to offer them to our clients.

I shall let the pictures speak for themselves, although the light was a bit problematic so some are a bit flat. if you ever get the chance make the trip. You won’t be disappointed.

Cheltenham gardeners

Nice loose borders

Landscape gardeners Stroud

Part of the garden’s effectiveness is its relation to its setting. I don’t think another form of garden would sit against the hills so well.

Garden design Cheltenham

This is the new patrina aff. punctiflora in the Molinia meadow. The Molinia meadow was the highlight of the garden but none of the photographs of this have done it justice, so i shall plant one in my new garden and show it off properly in a few years….

Dove Cottages own selection of Echinacea 'Autumn Joy' Much earlier flowering, fuller in body and of better habit than a lot of Echinacea. Tried and tested here over 5-6 years.

Dove Cottages own selection of Echinacea ‘Pink Glow’. Much earlier flowering, fuller in body and of better habit than a lot of Echinacea. Tried and tested here over 5-6 years.

Young Horticulturalist of The Year – West Midlands and South Wales 2014

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Mar 202014
 

Winner!

Last week I took part in the final of the regional Young Horticulturalist and WON! So now i get to take part in the Grand Final; in Norwich against the other finalists from all over Great Britain. The competition is open to anyone over under the age of 30 on July 31st of this year. There were 2000 applicants nationwide and 8, including me, are in the Grand final.

The regional final took place at Pershore college and took form of a question directed or open, buzzer controlled, on a general range of horticultural subjects. There were also a couple of identification rounds, one plant identification and one pest and disease. There were two points on offer per question. The grand final is much the same format however, the winner receives  a £2000 travel bursary to study plants where every they may choose. Here are some pictures from the evening.

Scoreboard

YHOY Winner Cheltenham reduced

In height order

The competition Cheltenham garden

The finalists

YHOY Cheltenham garden design

Identification round

Sep 132013
 

We get asked a lot, when is it best to plant? A lot depends on the site and what you are planting but in general September….and this is what we have been doing. Check out the pictures we have been taking of our garden below, showcasing the landscaping by Allscapes WA, its becoming my favorite place to be.

Why? As the plant begins to go dormant, the sap travels down the plant and into the roots. This stimulates root growth as the plant invests the energy it has created through the year. With the ground still warm from the summer, the air cooler and the autumn rains, which slakes the garden as i write, it is the perfect time to plant and get a bigger and more established for the following season. So we have been planting in oxford and post some pictures. Of course you can plant at any time of the year but it means you have to be more assiduous with watering if done in the summer and gain no root growth benefit if you plant from November onwards.

York stone paving, Iroko screen and tree ferns

York stone paving, Iroko screen and tree ferns

Cheltenham garden designer

York stone paving, pleached Hornbeams and Stipa meadow

Cheltenham garden

Curved brick walls and tree ferns

Cheltenham lightwell garden

Inside out

Reference: Los Angeles residential paving options.

Oxford landscaping and Cheltenham wild flower meadow part 2

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Jul 062013
 

In early spring we planted this meadow on a front, roadside, garden for our client, the business owner of Skilled Fencing. The ground was very moss rich grass, which was difficult to mow and offered no privacy. Our solution was to plant, what we call a ‘pseudo wild flower meadow’. This is taking garden perennials, planting them among grass and letting the grass grow, which gives this meadow like effect. The advantage is that these plants flower for longer than true wild flower species, which we also sowed a healthy dose of at the same time.

I love it, both the asthetic and the habitat it provides. Lots of the european Barn Funnel weaver spiders had made homes in the grass and bees were working the clover, the single most important nectar source for them. As a brief aside, there is nothing more important that we can do for the health of the planet and to mitigate our impact upon it than to provide a diverse habitat by managing the flora to enable the wider fauna to  flourish in it.

AND – This only took one man, one day to do…!

Battledown, Cheltenham meadow....

A heavy duty scarify twice to remove the moss first…

Battledown, Cheltenham meadow…..

Battledown, Cheltenham meadow wild flower seed

Wildflower seed sown and raked into the exposed ground

Battledown, Cheltenham meadow

This Astrantia has been flowering for two months now, look how well it sits in the grass.

Battledown, Cheltenham meadow...

View over Cleeve hill

Battledown, Cheltenham wildflower meadow..

Cephalaria gigantea, the bees love this plant. Usually it is 6ft tall but will be a bit smaller here with the competition of the grass keeping it down.

Battledown, Cheltenham meadow.

Behind those posts is the road and what a difference this screen makes…

It is important to stress that this approach cannot work on all soil types, but please contact us to discuss if you would like to find out more.

Oxford landscaping and Cheltenham wild flower meadow part 1

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Jul 062013
 

The summer has arrived and this morning sees me and her going to Mold, north Wales, for a friends wedding, but before we go i wanted to share these pictures from our gardening in and around Cheltenham…..and Oxford!

First up we have a pic from some terracing we designed for a basement extension in Oxford. There shall be many more pics and explanations to come from this garden once we have done the planting in September, but for now just a this pic of these walls.

Oxford terracing

Oxford terrace.

Somethings did grow last year

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Apr 062013
 

It is a such a treat to  get pictures of past landscape garden design and build projects that I don’t get to visit and one such e-mail landed in my box this week. These pictures from last year were accompanied with nice words such as;

  • I thought you might appreciate a few photos of how well the garden did last year. Those early photos on your web site, a few plants, low in the ground, with a lot of space between them, have been joyfully superceded.
  • The Eryngium got into a survival battle with the washing line; the eryngium won, I made other, temporary, arrangements for the washing.
  • The Estate Agent who originally sold me the house came to have an ‘advisory’ look round, and was very complimentary about the back garden; that it had been one of the sticking points in selling the house, but that I (ie, you) had had the  vision to see it could be so different. So,again, many thanks for a lovely garden.

Mixed summer planting

Rudbeckia laciniata ‘Herbstonne’ – A bit taller than normal here because of the weather. This is a great self supporting late flowering Rubeckia. I love its presence…

Woodland planting with Astrantia ‘Shaggy’, doing what is does for most of the summer in a cool wet place, flowering!

Feb 202013
 

As part of our recent trip around New Zealand we flew back up to  Auckland from the geologically sublime south of Queenstown and Fjordland (below). More on this and the Punga (tree ferns) trees of this area to come.

Tree line of the so called Goblin forest, Fjordland. Looking north east to sea.

From Auckland we picked up our hire car and got as far north as daylight and time would allow for the day to the winterless north and Maori land. As our enthusiasm for the days travel waned we found ourself’s approaching a campsite in the same little town as The Kauri museum. So we decided to make camp for the night and begin our introduction to the Kauri by way of the Museum. I have never seen or heard of a whole museum dedicated to one species of tree, let along one so expansive.  A mainstay of the exhibitions is the storey of what I think is an underrepresented aspect of the told history of our relationship with trees and their forests. That is the life and conditions of those working  at the time which is now dismissed as a senseless act of mass deforestation by a previous  generations.  This is not to celebrate and the museum didn’t give this feeling, but rather to tell a storey of a tough life and virgin forest unknown to us now. There is an Eastern poem i once read which some of the lives

Karui wood

A few of my highlights were, an exhibition larger than the combined size of all the walls in our house of Kauri gum, a whole wall display of chainsaws through the ages. It is frightening to look at some of these instruments with the eyes of modern Health and Safety. Heavy machines, no chain brake or clutch and even more lethal than todays tools. However, with big trees you need big saws.

Chainsaws of yesteryear

Lots of pictures of this and these are used with kind permission of the museum. To move such big trees through thick forest you need innovative transport. So they used to build dams to collect the logs on the high side. Then pull a release lever and wash the logs down stream to the next dam and eventually to the sea or saw mill.

Release

 

Big logs

From here we ventured further north to see the trees and their forest and they are massive. Photographs never do such big trees justice. Never. These trees are approximately 2000 years old and are just huge. The phrase ‘It’s just like in the movies’ always grates a little. I think it is expressed the wrong way around. For places like this are the inspiration for the movies. Here it is easy to draw comparisons with these forests and those depicted in Avatar. How easily ‘Home Tree’  could have been based on a the Kauri. Fortunately the Kauri are now protected and cannot be felled.

Kauri’s, Agathis australis, are a hard wood confier . The timber it yields is of the finest quality. A lot of the timber was used in ship building and the younger trees which grow so straight and do not deviate for the light or around other vegetation were sought out for the masts. The Maori’s used the large and strong trees to make single construction dug out canoes which could reportedly hold over 100 warriors.

The trees can grow to 50m tall and provide the emergent canopy in these forests. One of the most interesting physiological adaptations of the Kauri is how it inhibits colonisation by parasites or climbers. As with lots of conifers  the lower branches are readily discarded by the tree, however, as the canopies are not particularly dense and do not prevent anything else growing at their base they need another method to prevent them being climbed upon. The bark of Kauri trees  is extremely flaky. This means that once any weight is applied the bark detaches and the climbers can’t hold of for very long.

The fattest of them all - Te Matua Ngahere 

The lord of the forest - Tāne Mahuta

Kauri, Agathis australis

Amazing winter protection – Cycas revoluta

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Jan 312013
 

On a recent trip to Japan i visited Katsura Rikyu, the Imperial villa. Our  equivalent may be Chequers. This was my second visit to the garden and it has to be one of the best in world. I shall be posting over the next few weeks all about this trip to Japan and the others to New Zealand. However, this; in the depth of winter seemed appropriate to share first.

I cannot say what the material is made from as the translation did not come across clearly enough to understand. They use this construction to protect Cycads (Cycas revoluta). Cycads are a bit at odds with the concept that Japanese gardens are trying convey. Yet they valued the plants as gifts from and as a inference to, their more southerly islands so that in a few very traditional Japanese gardens you get these wonderful installations during the winter.

Cycas revoluta – installation guide

Cycas revoluta – Tokyo

Cycas revoluta – Katsura Rikyu, Kyoto

Cycas revoluta – Nijo-in, Kyoto

 

Oct 172012
 

The autumn sunshine and colours over the weekend were magnificent. I grabbed this picture from my Cheltenham garden, charlton kings. This is the view from my dining room. I do love this time of year everything is fully grown all the soft yellows and browns are shown off so nicely from the low light.

My cheltenham garden, Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’, Veronicastrum ‘Fascination’, Lythrum, Miscanthus ”Herman mussel’, et al