Tag Archives: National Trust

Mottistone revisited


Mottistone Gardens consist of 6 acres of formal gardens within the wider 650 acre Mottistone Estate.  The name is taken from a 13 foot iron sandstone Long Stone, a standing stone situated on a ridge above the village, originally known as the Moot Stone.

The manor (still tenanted and only open twice a year) and gardens were bequeathed to the National Trust in 1963.

I’ve visited the garden numerous times and have already blogged about visits in both March and June.  This time though, it was looking so good I wanted to share another visit.

The herbaceous borders above are reached via some beautiful stone steps frothing with Erigeron karvinskianus.


Here are the borders looking away from the house.IMG_1481

I find it fascinating comparing the picture above with one below from June 2015:

There were a couple of plants in these borders in two different colours that I’m sure I should know, but couldn’t name.  They were almost shrubby in size and both smothered in flowers.  Any clues?IMG_1484


Right by the house the colour palette is much hotter, with wonderful bold planting in a daring but fabulous mix of blue and orange.IMG_1478


Look at this scorching combination!IMG_1479

Walking in the other direction, south past the house, you pass the Monocot Border, laid out to show the great variety of monocots, including this wonderfully architectural Hedychium gardnerianum ‘Tara’.  I assume this is after the orange flowers have faded.IMG_1460

Beyond this border is the sheltered Lower Garden, planted with a number of tender plants including these fabulous Cannas.


From here you can see out of the garden and over to the Norman Mottistone Church (where Benedict Cumberbatch was married in February last year).IMG_1467

Despite having been here many times previously I’d never realised that the large tree to the north of this area is a mulberry, Morus nigra.  I only noticed this time as there were hundreds of mulberries littering the lawn!IMG_1463


And to finish, another mystery plant.  Any clues for this one?  I think it would look fabulous at the back of my Swing Beds.IMG_1471

So, thanks National Trust and thanks Mottistone, it really was a treat.

Lindisfarne Castle – another bucket list tick


Lindisfarne Castle was our penultimate Northumberland destination.  I was particularly inspired to visit having seen it from the train this time last year whilst uni visiting with my daughter.  Sadly, whereas last year the weather was fine and the views astounding, this year June brought gloom, rain and chill.  And we could barely see the sea (about 50 feet away) let alone the Farne Islands off the coast.

The castle was discovered, empty and neglected, by Edward Hudson (founder of Country Life magazine) in 1901.  He fell in love with it and hired Edward Lutyens and garden designer Gertrude Jekyll to bring it back to life.

After an fascinating tour around the castle itself, we left in search of the garden, which was in no way obvious.  I assume it was placed back behind the the castle to protect it from storms off the sea, but I was surprised at how completely separate it was, until I read that it had originally been a vegetable garden created to provide food for soldiers living in the castle.IMG_1009

Jekyll’s contribution was to redesign the garden to include hardy annuals, colourful perennials and heritage vegetables to (according to the NT website) “provide a riot of colour in the summer and a leafy, sheltered oasis all year round”.


An information board showed the design:IMG_1005

In the plan above the silver edging is provided by Stachys, but this has now been replaced by Artemesia which certainly provided some light in the gloom.IMG_1003IMG_1008

Interesting to see Delphiniums in bloom, which hadn’t been at Alnwick.IMG_1004

Interesting too to see this way of training Broad Beans.  Shame I didn’t remember when I was staking my supposedly self supporting ‘Sutton Dwarfs’ earlier today.   I think this might have been a whole lot easier.IMG_1010

And to finish, another photo from the board.  Apparently this is how it can look.  Huh!IMG_1006

Cragside, could make a girl change her mind…


…about rhododendrons!

Cragside is a fascinating National Trust property near Rothbury in Northumberland.

It was the home of Lord Armstrong a Victorian inventor, innovator and landscape genius. Trained as a lawyer, he only turned to engineering later and was completely visionary.  The house was the first to be lit by hydroelectricity and is still crammed full of ingenious gadgets such as a water powered piston lift and all 350 light bulbs in the house are lit by a water powered Archimedes screw.

Having enjoyed a fascinating visit to the house, we emerged to some really grim weather. We’d already braved Alnwick in the morning and had got pretty damp then, so the idea of a soggy walk around the grounds really wan’t that appealing.  And then I looked at the information leaflet and realised there was an alternative.  The estate is so comprehensive they have established a one way, six mile long ‘estate carriage drive’ which meanders through the entire 1000 acre estate.  Perfect.  And it was.IMG_0985IMG_0990





Whistlestop Nymans


Following Whistlestop Wisley in February, I made another hasty garden visit at the weekend, this time to the National Trust garden at Nymans.

The garden was developed by three generations of the Messel family, after Ludvig Messel bought the 600 acre Nymans estate in the late 19th century.  Together with his head gardener, James Comber, he developed the garden, including building up collections of three of my (possibly) least favourite genera – camellias, rhododendrons and ericas.  However they also collected numerous magnolias, which were looking stunning during my visit.  This one in particular, Magnolia ‘Charles Raffill’, a cross between M. Campbellii and M. Mollicomata, was absolutely magnificent.



And I’ve never seen such enormous Magnolia stellata.IMG_0152

As well as the wonderful magnolias, there were thousands of beautiful bulbs.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Narcissus together with Cornus (I assume ‘Midwinter Fire’) but I think this was really striking.IMG_0165

Another favourite bulb of mine is Fritillaria meleagris – just look at these beauties.IMG_0129IMG_0130

Whilst there was evidence of winter in the still blooming Hellebores, IMG_0162

there were also many signs of spring, including these gorgeous Paeonia delavayi buds.IMG_0158

I thought I might be tempted in the nursery,  but there really wasn’t much of interest.  However, in the roped off area, look at all these sweeties.  I think the pink pots denote that the plants have been grown at Nymans in peat free compost.IMG_0154


Nymans is a garden I’ve wanted to visit for years and, as I was close by, I popped in. However, I don’t really think I did it justice.  Ideally I’d like to return on an occasion when I could have a proper garden tour to appreciate more of the rare, exotic species collected by the Messels from around the world, including particularly China and Chile and Tasmania. And preferably late in the summer, when I won’t be expected to admire the Rhododendrons and Camellias. 😉

Return to the Duver – November 2015


I haven’t posted a Duver post since the end of May, but it’s still there, and as beautiful as ever.

This post is a combination of some photos I took on Saturday, and then these, more atmospheric ones taken this morning before work.  There aren’t any flowers, but hopefully you’ll forgive me.IMG_9601IMG_9610

I have managed to find a (very) few flowersstill clinging on – rather tatty Chamomile,IMG_9570

precociously early wild garlic, or Ransoms.IMG_9559

and a couple of escapees.IMG_9618

For mellow fruitfulness I can offer the last few blackberriesIMG_9595

some beautiful rose hipsIMG_9567

and a bevy of tiny little mushrooms, barely bigger than my thumbnail.

As for foliage, look at this, a beautifully frost dusted thistle.  And yet no frost in my garden, higher up and further from the sea.  Now how does that work? IMG_9617

Bodnant ablaze

2015-10-29 11.35.18 HDR

The last couple of days saw me away with my sister in North Wales, rediscovering childhood haunts around our granny’s house in Llandudno.  Of course, as a child, the proximity of Bodnant a National Trust garden (only the second to be accepted by the National Trust after Hidcote), had little allure compared to donkey rides and sandcastles on the beach, so I don’t believe we ever visited.

I’d read that the garden contains the national collections of Magnolia, Embothrium, Eucryphia and Rhododendron forrestii, as well as the longest laburnum arch in the country, but it occurred to me that none of these would be at their best in late October and so it was with a little trepidation I dragged my full-of-cold sister along.

Well I needn’t have worried, the garden was an absolute joy.  The NT website entry states “there are many gardens in one at Bodnant” and so there are.  Not only Italianate terraces, a dell (complete with waterfall and multiple champion trees) and numerous late perennials still flowering in Wales’ mild climate, but the trees, the trees!

Bodnant is on a scale that allows for an entire Acer Grove (don’t have one?  You really should…) which was absolutely jaw dropping.

2015-10-29 11.28.16 HDR

Acer platanoides Schwedleri2015-10-29 11.31.00 HDR

Acer rubrum ‘October Glory’

2015-10-29 11.31.36 HDR

2015-10-29 11.28.44 HDR

2015-10-29 11.33.06 HDR

Away from the Acers, right by the entrance were a pair of Ginko biloba grown against a wall.  I’d forgotten how yellow the leaves become in Autumn.

2015-10-29 11.04.10

2015-10-29 11.04.17

As well as the trees, there were many interesting shrubs, including this stunning spindleberry, Euonymus europaeus ‘Red Cascade.’2015-10-29 11.53.33 HDR

And if you tired looking at the amazing planting, there was always the beautiful Welsh countryside to enjoy:

2015-10-29 12.00.57 HDR

2015-10-29 12.09.43 HDR

2015-10-29 12.07.36 HDR

So thank you National Trust.  It is a special place indeed.2015-10-29 12.35.13

Mottistone return


Last year’s visit to Mottistone was on Mother’s Day in March, but for my return this year I went on my birthday, in mid June, and of course it looked very different.

The garden is not large by National Trust standards, around six acres, but has a number of different areas to explore, each with its own ‘feel’.

The first thing I noticed about the herbaceous borders (above) were the plentiful Sisyrinchiums looking really rather impressive (and rather making me regret that I’ve dug out an awful lot of mine!)


Below is a photo of the same beds but looking the other way, back towards the beautiful Elizabethan Manor House.  Some of you may remember that Benedict Cumberbatch got married in the local church here earlier in the year and had his wedding reception at Mottistone Manor.  Rumour has it his wife, Sophie Hunter, is related to the family now living at the Manor as tenants of the National Trust.IMG_7696


The garden has been created in a sheltered south facing valley and as a consequence is on numerous different levels.  Below you can see the small orchard towards the top of the garden, with a view south to the Manor buildings, with the English Channel channel beyond.IMG_7682

Whilst many areas are reached by sloping lawns, I just love these steps with their froth of Erigeron karvinskianus.IMG_7673

Either side of the steps are some hotter borders.IMG_7678

where I admired the bold and striking combination of diascia with the Arctotis (I think)  Flame.IMG_7671

Back towards the barn and the entrance was this cool blue border, looking fabulous backed by the magnificent hedge.IMG_7668

To the right of the entrance is a flat area which could well be a croquet lawn.  There were more Sisyrinchiums here, as well as this magnificent tree fern.



It was a lovely visit in perfect weather, AND there was cake – a proper birthday treat!

Wildflower Wednesday – (very) late March


Well I might have known things would start to go awry now I’m back at work – here I am posting my Wildflower Wednesday on a Sunday.

Sadly there’s not as much progress on the Duver as I would have hoped.  Some stalwarts are still in evidence, the Daucus CarotaIMG_6377


and the gorse.IMG_6390

And there is a new, good sized clump of violets to admire. IMG_6382


However, whilst the shrub I’ve photo’d for the last couple of months is finally putting on some proper growth, I now have to admit that I can’t think what it is!  Help please!IMG_6402

And to finish, no flowers at all, but a jolly ‘stripe’ of geese.IMG_6397

With thanks as ever to Gail at Clay and Limestone for hosting the Wildflower Wednesday meme.

Hopefully by next month there’ll be some new wild blooms to admire, and I might even be on time!