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.

  • It’s been a long time

    Why more than a year since my last post? In short, it’s always my inclination to be out in the garden getting on with the  mass of jobs rather than to be sitting at my computer. No apology!

    But we had a good year in  the garden with a lot of visitors, helped, I am sure, by being listed in The Times (3 Aug 2019) as being among twenty of ‘Britain’s most beautiful gardens’.

    My last post here was about the colours of the garden at the end of summer 2018, but what was on my mind was the large amount of weed which had grown up on the surface of the big pond since the spring. It was a thick cover of Canadian pond weed (Elodea Canadensis) which was growing up from the bottom, 2 to 3m, and surface floating duck weed – neither of them offensive like blanket weed but both taking away the reflection and pleasure of a clear surface. The cause of the weed is the high level of phosphates and nitrogen of the water carried by the Curl Brook which feeds down the valley from the agricultural area to the west, totally outside my control.

    In the autumn I spent a lot of time  considering whether the problem could be reduced by removing the weed and/or sediment from the pond and how this could be done in an area of difficult access.  The conclusion was that the poor water quality would bring back the weed and that removing the sediment would disturb the pond equilibrium and could easily end by bringing in blanket weed.  Further mulling presented the fact that lakes around the margin of the valley, fed by local runoff from adjacent hill slopes, had remarkably little weed. Better late than never (!) I saw that here at the mill we have a similar situation with a small inflow, which we call The Rill, joining the garden via a ditch fed from the small hill to the south. Analyses of the two sources showed the Rill water to have a phosphate content of only about 10% of the content of the leat. With this encouraging finding at was not hard to replace the inflow to the pond with water from the Rill.

    Surface of the pond (17 Nov 2019)

    The effect of the improved water quality was very good. Elodea never appeared on the surface through the summer but there was some duck weed which appeared patchily. By the end of the summer the water was clear. It seems reasonable to expect the surface of the pond to now stay reasonably clear.

    The last year has brought two changes which have crept up on me, other than anno domini ! People often ask me what will be the next folly – follies  have become a big feature of the garden. In short, the answer is that there will be no more. Partly this is because I can think of no place which needs one; also perhaps because I am running out of energy. I have always wanted the garden itself to be the soul of the place with follies merely as a decoration. These ‘decorations’ are getting older  and now require a fair amount of  maintenance work. Maintenance extends to the impact of erosion caused by the water which churns through the garden in winter and the need to prune and cut back the many trees and shrubs which we planted. You might be amused to hear that the ‘Monet’  bridge is in pieces for a rework with the two arches drying out in front of a radiator in the house – how tolerant is my wife!

    The second change in the work emphasis is that our main garden activity is now trying to upgrade the variety of the existing planting and to extend the interest over a longer period.

    Maybe there will be more blog posts. Or I may decide to limit my posts to upgrading the pictures in the ‘galery’.  This one I will send now and if anyone reads it in the next two days I can still wish you  a 2019 Happy Christmas. In any  case I can wish you a very good 2020 and hope to see you here after 1st April.            Richard Pim

     

  • Late Summer colour

    In previous years the early and mid-Summer colour had been taking all the splendour so we  have been trying to brighten the early Autumn show. I am quite pleased with the result. I am getting better at cutting back the campanulas to get  a second flowering and am delighted to find how heleniums relish my damp soil. Ligularia varieties offer a long flowering season with the short but robust Cheju Charmer flowering into October. Eupatorium varieties, actaea, hirengeshoma and the many autumn grasses make for a colourful autumn.

    Elupatorium mac.Glutball, Maclea k. Flamingo

    Helenium Zimbelstern
    Miscanthus sin. Herman Mussell and Sinalcea tangutica

     

  • Summer swept in

    The dry May at last allowed us to get on with the spring planting which continued here right up to the Summer solstice. The challenges of trying to improve the planting are always exciting,  probably probably in new mistakes, but I am also looking for improvements particularly in the late summer colour.

    But an early improvement has come in the wild flower meadow with the second spring since scraping the top soil off a large area bringing a much greater diversity than the flowers which appeared in the first year. Twelve of the original items in the seed mix have been identified, and common spotted orchid has returned in surprisingly greater number than  those originally planted.

    Wild flower close up

    The early primulas, particularly pulverulenta, were particularly special this year followed by massed rodgersia. The irises are now looking good and the whole summer show is lined up. After four years quietly thinking about it the cardiocrinum giganteum  exploded on 26 June with the sheer wow it would be hard to beat. Then with the drama of an operatic diva it will produce offsets and die. Come and see it while it lasts.

    Cardiocrinum giganteum

     

  • 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