Garden visiting – and not visiting…


Yellow book

If there’s one thing I enjoy, it’s visiting NGS gardens. There’s always been an element of voyeurism – at last we can see what is going on over this wall – but that was more present when I lived in London. And there what was over the wall could sometimes be quite startling, particularly for some reason in Putney, and not always in a good way.

Happily, it’s not the same here. For one thing, you often know the garden or the gardener, and NGS day is a chance to see the garden at its best. And then you can often see into a garden beforehand; there’s not the same tendency to high walls topped with razor wire and broken glass that you find in south London.  This is true of one garden near here, and it was open under the NGS on the same weekend as the Crug Farm Plant Fair – an embarrassment of riches.


It’s located between the road and the estuary, down in a dip with a stream running down one side. When you’re driving along you can see the tops of trees and some tantalising glimpses of cultivation, but when you actually visit Tanybryn you realise that there’s a lot more to it than that. For me, with my meadow and tree-shadowed areas, this garden was inspirational. And it did leave me with a deep desire to grow a tree heather…


The movement was what sold it to me, even if it did make it difficult to photograph. Still not tracked one down, but I will. I will.

And then there was the wild planting under the trees:


and the meadow areas which included some Solomon’s Seal as well as spreads of wood anemones. The latter may not take with me, but boy have I got some Solomon’s Seal I can shift about. There were also areas with a stunning combination of euphorbia and daffodils, which really worked.


I particularly applaud the lack of obsessive neatness, and I certainly plan to follow an example of tree management I saw here – removing lots of lower branches on the silver birches. It makes seeing the bark easier and, as P pointed out when I told him about it, it will make mowing the paths in the meadow a lot less painful. I’m not sure my budget would extend to planting the ground below with trilliums, though. But there was another idea I plan to adapt:


I have quite a few tall slate slabs (left over from path removal – not removal by me, but by the Western Red Cedar that came down last year), and this got me thinking about how we might use them. Not like this – I’ve only got four – but maybe in the beds. Not informed P of this idea yet (guess who’ll be doing the lifting), but I will. I’ll have to, now I’ve said it here!

And then I found some lovely things in the more formal beds. This particular delight was on a steep slope, where it ended in a wall. Lovely. And that’s from someone who doesn’t like pink.


The garden is open again under the NGS at the end of the month. I will definitely be going…


And then there was the weekend just past.

Very frustrating, what with one thing and another – a complete contrast to the last one. Partly this was due to the weather and the return of winter, complete with hailstorms and thunder, and partly due to – well, one NGS garden.

I set off to visit a couple of nearby gardens quite early as the weather was supposed to deteriorate (and it did). Found first garden, uphill and along single-track road – but car park shut. Garden definitely open – could see plants sales area, signs, etc – but not car park. Single track road. Cannot park in passing places. Dumped car in road, tried to open gate into field signposted as car park. Gate not shiftable. Rain start. Return to car, drive down to main road, turn round and try from other direction, in hope someone lovely has opened gate. Hope unfounded. Rain worse. Gate even less inclined to respond to physical violence. Boots leak. Drive to other garden. Feet steam in warmth from car heater. Rain now so heavy have to use double-speed windscreen wipers. Give up completely and go home.

Now I do appreciate that the NGS cannot control the weather (bechod – shame), but I do think that if you advertise a car park, you should at least make sure it’s accessible. Grr. Oh, enough already – there are many more weekends to come to make up for it, and it can’t rain on all of them, can it? I’ll be there anyway, no doubt…


20 Comments Add yours

  1. Christina says:

    i love it when you are inspired by something you see, not always something you will copy but an idea sparking something else, wonderful. Christina

    1. kate says:

      It’s really good, isn’t it? Sparks you off in unexpected directions…

  2. Pauline says:

    So glad your first garden hit the mark and you found lovely planting under the trees, my favourite type of planting! Why not do what I have done with my meconopsis, buy one plant of Trillium and then sow seeds, its much the cheapest way to get a drift of your favourite flower. What a shame about your second garden, its that sort of thing that puts people off unfortunately. We used to open for the NGS but since my muscle problems limit the amount of time I can spend gardening, I can’t keep up the standard they require, we used to use the car park of the school next door, but the school is now a private house, so the car park has gone anyway! It was hard work and days when it rained hardly anyone came, but on sunny days it was wonderful meeting fellow gardeners!

    1. kate says:

      Oh, it was beautiful – I’m looking forward to seeing it at the end of the month – which is roughly the stage it should have been at on the 5th, given how late everything is. Drove past it the other day and a cherry tree is now in full bloom, so there’ll be lots of other changes to appreciate.

      I do think that people who open for the NGS are heroic, and I’ve seen how exhausted Karen (Artist’s Garden) gets – but there’s still no real excuse for messing up the car parking. If street parking isn’t easily available / obvious, and there isn’t a nearby car park, I think it should be mandatory…

  3. Harriet says:

    What a great looking garden – love the idea of daffodils with euphorbia but will I remember it?! That pink flower is lovely, what is it?

    1. kate says:

      I think it’s a creeping phlox, but it didn’t have a label. However, It does look rather like the one I bought at Crug (except mine is purple)…

  4. Dobby says:

    That gate is a bit stiff, but I have managed to wrangle it into submission over the last couple of years. The rain has probably soaked in and swollen it! Such a shame that you missed the garden, but it would have been a bit slippery underfoot being on a steep slope. Garden and car park actually. Never mind, it is open again later in the year. I volunteer to go with you and be gate wrangler!

    1. kate says:

      I think they really should make sure it’s open. There are no sheep in the field (unless they were hiding, which is possible given the weather), and – let’s be honest – a sizeable number of their visitors will probably be elderly. Not sure I can be bothered to try again, but we’ll see!

      1. Dobby says:

        You are off course right, the gate should open, and they should have checked. You do need to see the garden, so I will even drive you over there. And if you are very good we can have tea and cake which is highly tasty.

        1. kate says:

          Oh, all right, I give in! It does sound nice – supposedly good views, though last Sunday all I’d have seen would have been the dripping leaf right in front of my face…

  5. hillwards says:

    The garden you managed to access (!) looks lovely and relaxed – so nice to explore other patches and find inspiration. Shame that the weather and situation conspired against you with the later gardens though. Boo.

    1. kate says:

      Oh that garden is beautiful – I’m looking forward to seeing it again in a couple of weeks. If it stops hailing / storming / raining….

  6. Cathy says:

    You have reminded me I must get the new NGS book – or shall I be a cheapskate and just search online…? What a frustrating attempt – you would think the owners would have wondered why nobody was managing to get to them (unless they asssumed it was the rain). Hope you didn’t have to travel too far, and thanks for pictures of your successful visit – always intriguing to nose in other people’s gardens 😉

    1. kate says:

      We have a local booklet which is free and which you can pick up all over the place, shops, garden centres, tourist info offices. I (hangs head) haven’t bought the actual full book in years… but then they do get money from me visiting gardens, so I don’t feel too guilty. Apparently the garden owners did have complaints about the theoretical nature of the car park, so we’ll see if anything changes for their second opening…

      Nosiness is fine as long as people don’t behave like my mother – brown bag in hand for seed heads, family dragooned into being lookouts. Agh!

  7. wellywoman says:

    I’m intrigued about what you found over the wall in Putney. 😉 The first garden looks lovely. Love the slate idea. What a pity about the second. I know from gardens we’ve visited that parking can be an issue but you’d think they would have thought about that. Oh well. I hope you get to see plenty more gardens to make up for that one.

    1. kate says:

      Oh, Putney nearly scarred me for life – it certainly put me off decking. Bright blue decking, and I mean BRIGHT blue decking, plus a long thin pool like an exercise pool, expect it was blocked by a giant ceramic in the same blue. It could have been a fish, it could have been a monster, it could have been some obscure cult deity – I do not know – nor, I think did we want to know. I remember that we looked at each other and left quite quickly; for all I know the rest of the garden could have been quite normal. Hmm.

      Yup, agree with you on the parking problem, but there’ll be more. Many more I hope…

  8. Kate I too was wondering what you found in Putney, I smile at your high walled gardens with broken glass as from where I was in south London these were the posh areas, where I was were stake and wire fences if you were lucky enough to have a garden, so you could see through and over the garden fence,
    I love the garden you did get into and would love to see it, looking forward to seeing your next post at the end of the month, I imagine it is much more sheltered than your garden if it is down a dip,
    I understand the frustation of the other garden and the weather would make it worse, I looked up some gardens near my son in Sussex a few years ago, when I finally found one (down a single track dead end) it was closed they had not updated their website details and were not appologetic! Frances

    1. kate says:

      My problem in London was the shared boundaries particularly if, like us, one fence was the responsibility of a house divided into three flats. Nobody used the garden – also divided into three – and when some of the fence blew down I had no choice but to replace it myself…

      Yes, I think that lovely garden must be much more sheltered, though it does have the stream down one side which can get quite something after heavy rain. A few years ago the nearby petrol station had a horrible leak from its tanks – though it was the other side of the stream so possibly didn’t affect the garden as much as it could have done. People had to move out of houses, let alone gardens…

  9. What a shame about the stubborn gate, rather counter productive given that the goal is to raise money for charity. But what a lovely garden you did manage to get round, loads to inspire. I really must get our oil leak fixed so that I can explore gardens around here…

    1. kate says:

      There are quite a lot of gardens in Gwynedd – more so than the other west Wales areas, well worth a repair. Except, of course, not only do you spend money on the repair, you spend it on entry / plants / cups of tea…

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