The Woodland Walk now

The Woodland Walk in Spring.

Visitors will brave any weather in February to see snowdrops in their thousands. But, as summer approaches, a poor forecast will put off all but the most dedicated garden visitor. Undaunted, this elite group of visitors know that spring weather offers the forecasters no guarantees and a glimpse of sunshine or soft rain can illuminate the awakening landscape with heart stopping beauty.

Nature gives us thousands more bulbs in every shape and colour and the display is every bit as enticing as late winter. Add the birdsong, the green vegetation and a warm tearoom and I am amazed that anyone can keep away. I don’t have to, of course, I can see the changes every day and they come thick and fast.

Now, the woodland walk unfurls in an unstoppable succession of growth and flower power. Dog’s mercury, feverfew and grey-green snowdrop foliage cover the ground and give a verdant backdrop to our bulbs; narcissus, hyacinths and imperial fritillaries. Weaving through these beauties are perennials including scented wild violets, the hellebores in their third MONTH of flowering and brunnera which creates a haze of forget-me-not blue.

woodland walk in spring

They have only this time to make their presence felt before they have to give way to the Aquilegias and foxgloves. Every day is a changing display of colour, scent and form.

There are chaffinches who hop and call in the big black walnut, still bare of foliage. They are easier to spot than the quiet treecreepers who search the fissured bark for insects. I’d love to know if their view from above is as good as ours as we walk along the winding path flanked by the shrubbery and woodland walk towards the Cedar Meadow. Another story is unfolding here too.


Spring at Easton

March, April and May. The days just get better. The gardens are full of Spring flowers AND there is still the feeling of anticipation for the warmth and big flowers of summer. Our meadows are filling with a succession of daffodils, from our native varieties right through to the pheasants eye narcissus at the end of the season. Around the fringes are wild flowers providing early nectar for queen bumblebees and a food source for larvae.

This year is a good violet year. Dark purple, lilac and white wild violets edge the woodland walk and clumps of violet draw your eye on the snowdrop bank.


The marsh marigold. Introduced by us from a wild form further up in the gardens, it is flourishing in the ditch on the snowdrop bank.


Native ladybirds. When the big brute of an american ladybird arrived here we thought it was curtains for these little fellows but they seem much better adapted to our climate than their cousins and continue to flourish.Now they are coming out of hibernation.

At this time of year even a glimmer of sunshine is enough to take me outside to weed, if its too cold to work for long there is always pricking out in the greenhouse.

Making small spaces count in the cottage garden

Making small spaces count in the cottage garden
When we first started restoring the gardens there was very little space for us to experiment with small scale planting combinations, so we created the cottage garden. This is now a great showcase for some of our more delicate flowers and bulbs.The bothy looks like an old cottage and forms a fine backdrop to a display that is the perfect place for visitors to get ideas for a smaller garden. The pocket-sized bed under ‘The Cottage Rose’ contains a succession of plants flowering now. Crocuses appear first along with other young foliage, followed by Pulmonaria ‘Blue Ensign’ (below left) and primroses.Later, the lime green inflorescences of Smyrnium perfoliatum will merge with aquilegia or granny’s bonnets. The hedge behind the cottage garden is the evergreen Osmanthus burkwoodii and is just breaking into flower now. If there are no severe frosts it will continue to produce little white flowers throughout March, scenting the whole garden. On the wall, near a deep red rose, is a wire shelf unit which has a changing display of plants (below right).
Because the garden is north facing we chose plants which would be happiest in shade for most of the day. Variegated honesty is an excellent plant that can be kept at the back of a border and will flower before the big herbaceous plants get going in the summer. It seeds itself about in a very gentle way.In deep shade, under a wooden bench made from an old oak plant, ferns enjoy the dark rick soil, while on the north wall Rosa ‘Gloire De Hollande’ flourishes. There’s lots to learn here about making the most of smaller gardens – it’s well worth a visit.
In full flower this week: Hellebores
We’ve got lots of hellebores out in full flower right now brightening the woodland walk and weaving through the dog’s mercury and early hyacinths. At their feet scented wild violets create a delicate display.