Hello and Snowdrops!

A lot has happened since my last post, it was autumn and now it’s spring! I’ve moved house, been on work-related chainsaw, tractor and telehandler training courses, taken two RHS exams, spent a week in Scotland, attended a Mediterranean Plants and Gardens lecture at the Chelsea Physic Garden, finishing final year reports for my PGG diploma as well as preparing for a trip to Thailand which starts in 5 days time. Time really does fly when you’re having a good time!

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Snowdrop Grove

Regarding Thailand I will be spending three weeks in the north and north east of the country, studying orchids in their natural habitat. Thailand is home to over 1,000 different species of orchids, it’s an understatement to say I can’t wait; I was excited to spend 2 weeks in Portugal last year, this trip has taken my enthusiasm to another level!

In between keeping up with life in general I had time after exams to fit in a garden visit to Painswick Rococo in Gloucestershire. I visited last summer, please click here to read my post about it.

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Close-up

It is home to a stunning snowdrop collection, with one of the largest naturalistic plantings of in the country; The largest collections of Galanthus in the garden are:

  • Galanthus nivalis
  • Galanthus nivalis f. pleniflorus ‘Flore Pleno’
  • Galanthus ‘Atkinsii’

Painswick Rococo is in many ways the spiritual home of Galanthus ‘Atkinsii’.  Known as a superior early flowering giant snowdrop G. ‘Atkinsii’ has a trouble history.
James Atkins (1804-1884), a retired nurseryman originally from Northamptonshire, but who was living in one of the estate cottages owned by the family at Painswick.

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Atkins obtained a bulb around 1870, most likely from southern Italy, which he grew and called Galanthus imperati. This name has lead and continues to cause confusion but is was offered by Atkins to the nursery trade as this and sales started on a commercial basis around 1875; this species was highly prized by early snowdrop collectors for its size and beauty.

In 1891 the name Galanthus ‘Atkinsii’ was proposed to clear up confusion and recognise John Atkins as the selector of this particular stock.

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Two year after his introduction a nurseryman from York, James Backhouse, introduced a snowdrop which was to all intense and purpose identical to G. ‘Atkinsii’ but with irregular malformed flowers.

In 1914 E. A. Bowles called this G. ‘Atkinsii’ James Backhouse instead, recognising it as a distinct form.  One of the great mysteries here at Painswick is the appearance of G. ‘James Backhouse’ growing in sizable clumps without ever having been purchased by the Trust or indeed the family before it. . .

I enjoyed the snowdrop collection tremendously, it was a beautiful sunny day when I visited; the sun shining on a carpet of white heads in the woodland looked as magical, if not more so, than snow.

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Tree sculpture

A fantastic work of art had been carved out of a beech tree stump, if only I could create sculptures like this with my chainsaw!

This will be my last post for a while, it’s a little in advance but I wish all of my readers a very happy Easter – roll on spring! 😀

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Painswick Rococo Garden

Yesterday I visited a truly delightful garden which is right on my doorstep, near Stroud in Gloucestershire. Painswick Rococo is a 6 acre hidden haven, tucked away in a Cotswold valley. It is the sole complete survivor from the brief early 18th century period of English Rococo Garden design, which is best known in France and Italy.

First view of the garden

014102Ancient tree stump

017This style of garden combines formality and informality in a flamboyant package, filled with pavilions, fountains and staircases as a place for owners to show off their wealth and entertain guests. It is not about plant collections but more a place where plants become part of the furnishings of an outdoor theatrical room in which to entertain.

The chapel

019020067This somewhat bizarre and extravagant form of garden design was a fleeting craze in England. Most people are more familiar with vast herbaceous borders, vivid planting schemes and arboreta which shaped gardens created in the 19th and 20th century.

The house

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Pigeon house

095Owl sculpture

097The garden at Painswick was abandoned when it became over planted by trees, however a painting dated 1748 by a local artist which showed the original garden design proved invaluable in guiding the ambitious restoration programme that began in 1984. The garden was transformed from an overgrown wilderness to its former 18th century glory, it is now managed by a charitable trust.

Eagle house

070View of the surrounding countryside

048Another vista

068It was refreshing to visit Painswick as I had never seen the unusual style of a Rococo garden before. The entrance to the garden is via a doorway which leads out onto a viewing platform, suddenly revealing the whole garden spread out below you. It’s a magical first impression, I had my usual “omg!” moment!

Sensational hydrangea

002Close-up

006Exedra garden

040The Exedra garden and Plunge Pool were the most colourful areas at this time of year. Huge clumps of Geranium ‘Rozanne’, Geranium endressii and Thalictrum delavayi gave the most colour, a massive hydrangea stole the show for me though. There was no label that I could see to determine its name, however it looked very similar to Hydrangea aspera ‘Anthony Bullivant’ and Hydrangea aspera subsp. sargentiana. If anyone can identify it more accurately from the photos then please let me know! 🙂

034Geranium ‘Rozanne’

038Thalictrum delavayi

045The Kitchen garden had mouth-watering vegetables, the mammoth courgettes and brassicas got me in the mood for lunch! The fences to keep rabbits out were constructed with military precision, an idea I’ll take away to re-create in my own veg plot. . .

The Kitchen garden

062050060059Painswick is most famous for its display of snowdrops, even though it was the wrong time of year the walk around the woodland areas were still enjoyable, the shade giving pleasant relief on such a hot day.

Plunge pool

071075Fish pond

080A maze was opened in 1999 to mark the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the garden. A viewpoint enables you to watch from above and see people trying to find its three centres, which I managed successfully! There’s something mysterious and intriguing about a maze or labyrinth, they never fail to mesmerize me.

The beech walk

088Gothic alcove

091The maze

047Vistas drew the eye in various directions from the surrounding landscape to follies, statuary and water features. I liked the little red chapel in particular, it was tiny! A wedding was about to take place as I was leaving, I couldn’t imagine anywhere more charming to have a ceremony than at Painswick.

Orchard

066Sorbus tree

094I will visit this gem of a garden again without a doubt, I’ve a feeling it’s going to be a regular haunt while I’m living in Gloucestershire. 😉