Tag Archives: garden blog

  • Ilam Park - Gardens to Visit

    Ilam Park features walks around incredible countryside as well as a small formal garden area. It does not add up to a must-see for the avid gardener, especially not for those looking for ideas, but for the lover of countryside and open green spaces, Ilam has it all.

    You can get here by bus from Ashbourne, but I was lucky enough to be driven by a friend. It is a stunning NT property with free entrance, set in the Manifold Valley in Dovedale. The tiny village of Ilam has beautiful houses and the surrounding countryside is the epitome of this 'green and pleasant land'. I'd swear those hills are made of green velvet.

    The house itself is now a hostel, so you can stay here. The Church of the Holy Cross also stands in the grounds and is worth a look. You'll spot the clumps of snowdrops and the massive giant redwood, Sequoiadendron giganteum in the grounds. It's not the only fine specimen tree, there is also a good example of Araucaria araucana, the monkey puzzle tree. Walk over to the riverside and on the house side, you'll find a row of trees with limb-like branches.

    The small formal garden is Italianate. The lavender was showing off its silver cloak, and there was a tiny Acaena 'Blue Haze' near the covered archways. The latter and the grand steps indicate the former glory of the house. Further round there were clumps of golden Eranthis hyemalis, winter aconite. My favourite feature was the stone 'urn' set into the wall with its leaf decoration, holding a heuchera, I would have planted it with Sedum Angelina to overflow its confines.

    Words and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

  • Sheffield Winter Garden

    When it is cold, it is tempting to seek out indoor gardens, at least for me, call me the fair weather gardener. Hence, I found myself two week ago strolling around The Winter Gardens in Sheffield once more. It's like a mini botanic garden with plants from around the world, but nothing that an avid gardener would not recognise. The structure still steals the show in many ways. I can almost think of it as an extension to my own place and if I had a glasshouse, this would be about the right size.

    Step into that other garden world, the world of plants from other continents, so coveted because we cannot usually grow them outdoors. There is a good selection of Australian plants and those from South America too, mainly represented by cacti and one or two South African succulents. Ferns, palms, wattles, orchids, exotic greenery with a splash of colour associated with subtropical paradises.

    The Kalanchoe looked too small to be at my feet, they deserve an eye-level viewing, with their perfect rose-like blossoms, around 1cm across. The Tradescantia was vying to be the plant that covered the most ground, and was accompanied by a sole Begonia, glowing like a little velvet beacon. Codiaeum (Croton) were dotted here and there, as well as Aechmea and Vriesia. A lone Gerbera was holding fort for the strongest colour. The Norfolk Pine, Araucaria cunninghamii was certainly the tallest. However, the bamboo stand and the fan of Strelitzia leaves were also heading for the roof. The orchids and Anthuriums were looking handsome too. Yet the Cycads and Dicksonia were looking on the dry side. The Platycerium stag's horn fern had grown on one side of a trunk, but on the other it was sporting just two 'horns', well-deserved of its name.

    Right in the middle of the city centre, it's a good place to come and sit for lunch and admire the greenery. Sip your coffee and dream of paradise islands in the Pacific whilst you gaze at that Norfolk island Pine. Bliss.

    Words and images copyright Karen Platt 2017

  • When Autumn Leaves Turn To Gold

    I dillied and dallied and autumn turned to winter too fast. One moment the leaves were turning to glorious colours and I was thinking, wow I must do an autumn post. However I was wrapped up in my new book Woven Textiles of Tunisia, and suddenly it seemed that autumn had vanished.

    To be fair we have still only had one night of frost (although I might have escaped a couple of nights at the beginning of November as I was in sunny Greece), but one night last week changed the landscape of the garden from dazzling colours to silvered and nipped with frost, plants limp and reeling from the cold. Those blazing fiery hues of autumn leaves fell to the ground and became brown and wizened and often wet and soggy. I had been astonished to see asters, cornflowers, red hot pokers, verbena bonariensis and rudbeckia still going strong to the end of November.

    One is reminded of the eternal cycle, the return to earth, the renewal that follows. But for a while it will be frosty photos. So I recall the beautiful colours of autumn. I particularly love the rusty colours of Taxodium.

    You can enjoy year-round colour with my gardening books

    Words and images copyright Karen Platt 2016

3 Item(s)