Westonbury Mill News

Here you will find a list of my recent items of news about the garden and about plants. I hope you enjoy it.

  • Spring in the air?

    Well, yes – for these two bee eaters by the Nile in January.

    Green bee eaters by the Nile

    But home had been like this:

    December 12th at home

    And, like everyone, March brought the cold and more snow:

    More snow – March 6th

    There is now a race on to see whether Nature can come up with its Spring miracle in time for opening the garden for Easter. My bet is that it will amaze us as it usually does.

  • News

    I am delighted that the Bottle Folly has been included in a new publication, Compendium of Landscape Architecture and Open Space Design. This is a massive 510 page book giving pictures and some detail of

    250 recent features from around the world, 10 of them in the UK.


  • Autumn colours

    Here are a few late pictures as we started on a major autumn move around.   This is the last of a series of posts which I have made to illustrate the changes in the garden through the year to try to answer the question ‘What does it look like in the different seasons’.  It seemed logical to start with the April pictures but the result is that if you want to view them from April you will have to go back down four posts and start from there.  I hope you enjoy them!

    Populus tremula erecta in the Wild Flower Meadow
    Shrubbery in the Wild Flower Meadow
    View from the Clock Tower
    Aconitum carmichaelii
    View across the pond
  • Snippets of late August

    I find that my pictures of July look very similar to those of June so I am going to leap to those which I took this year on 25th August. These will then carry on into early September.

    View across the leat
    View from the Summer House
    View across the Bowl Bed
    Path to the Ruin
    View from the Clock Tower
  • Snippets of June

    These are photos I took in the second half of June this year. There were still irises and primulas but some of them beginning to look a bit tired and the emphasis was changing to the larger plants like ligularia and campanula. The gunnera was already huge.

    Tree fern across the Bog
    Irises in the Bog
    Rambling Rector rose across the Cairn Garden
    View across Bowl Bed to Dome
    View across the pond
    Planting along the Leat
    Ligularia Zepter and view across the Cairn Garden
  • Snippets of May

    I took these photos on 28th May:

    Irises and primulas
    The Bog Garden
    Rodgersia podophylla with the Dome over the pond
    View across the Cairn Garden with primula bulleyana and white wisteria
    The small wood, azaleas and the stream


  • Snippets of April

    There have been several recent phone calls with the question ‘which is the best time to visit?’ Having missed my summer blogging perhaps the best way to answer that  question is to go through some of the the year’s pictures. Monthly views will show the fresh  open look of spring developing into the lush growth of summer and then the wistful colours of autumn. You can take your choice. Starting with photos of April 23rd:

    April view to Summer House
    View across bog garden
    Close up in the bog
    Spring magnolia
    View from Cuckoo Clock
    View across Cairn Garden


    The Canal with darmera
    View down the leat
  • The whole summer has flown

    In March I said that I was going to make regular updates about anything new or interesting, and failed dismally. There was always pressure to be outside where I am confident and have an infinite amount to do, and the option of a struggle with my computer was endlessly put off……until now!

    It has been an exciting summer; even in the dismal weather of August and September there have been lots of people, too often under umbrellas, but  apparently enjoying themselves.  And for me, having finished my folly building phase,  I am totally absorbed in the fascination of  plants and planting and all their options and combinations. So now with the garden closed but the plants still visible and in mind we are very busy with a large and long overdue sort out, splitting,  and, in many places, replanting.

    There is lots that I could have written about in the summer but one thing which seems to be topical for many people is wild flowers. The meadow here runs beside the stream and is both moist and fertile and when I took it over it had rank tall grass with few wild flowers. With no access for machinery  the first years were given to annual mowing, hand raking and then, with no option, burning. Three years followed attempting to establish yellow rattle but it was a hard struggle with the rattle tending to  disappear unless more seed was used each year. Last year was the most successful when we had collected a lot of seed from kind friends and applied it after strimming down to bare earth in small patches covering about 20% of the whole 1.5 acre area.

    Scraped area on left
    Typical scraped area close-up

    But I felt that I don’t have the time for this slow progress, and scraping off the topsoil appealed. In early 2015 I scraped  about 10cm off across a small area (about 50 m2) but stopped after being disconcerted that there was no apparent difference down through fine uniform loam. However, after seeding both the scraped and an unscraped area the resulting growth was remarkably different. That led to scraping in November 2015 about 30 % of the whole meadow in the area where grass had been most vigorous, followed by spring sowing with an appropriate grass and wild flower mix. The result was grass of much reduced vigour in 2016. In August we added yellow rattle in the strimmed areas throughout  the meadow with the result shown in the above 2017 pictures. It does now seem that by adding additional seed varieties we have a good chance of the area developing very well.

  • It’s looking good

    The mild spring has brought the garden forward further than I ever remember it.

    By the end of the first week of April the magnolias were looking splendid, the weeping willows were a lovely golden green and fat stalks of gunnera were three feet tall. But can this largesse survive without a frost until the safety of summer?

    Problem with fritillaries

    On my mind is a bed where fritillaries have self seeded prolifically, but so have the celandines.

    I used to admire their sparkling yellow but now hate the thuggish clumps and can no longer cope with the impossibility of weeding one from the other when they each have the identical season and bulb depth. 

    Anyway fritillaries only look good when flowering randomly from grass. So a job for the next few weeks is to dig up the whole lot, separate out the fritillaries and replant them in the wild flower meadow. The damp shady dug area can cope with a May replant.

    It’s now the 30th April and the answer to the question about the frost is: ‘so far, almost’. We had three nervous nights when we had many plants covered with fleece, ending on the 28th when it dipped just 0.4 deg below. Most were saved by the fleece but the few which were not covered, mainly rodgersias, were sadly blackened.  But they will come back.


  • Late March

    Just a few days now until the spring opening (1st April) and we are all very busy getting ready.

    View taken from Cuckoo Clock

    Massed daffodils have been looking good for a while, but the last few days of sunshine have kicked in that miraculous spring explosion of green shoots and early flowers – fritillaries, primula denticulata, and marsh marigolds all looking great – and the weeping willows hazed with wonderful  light yellowy green. It’s all very exciting!

    Fritillaria Meleagris
    Skunk Cabbage
    Curl Brook