Saturday, 6 October 2018

Trentham Gardens - sculpture

Earlier in September we visited Trentham Gardens in Staffordshire. I didn't get around to blogging about it due to lack of energy. Since then, Jessica over at Rusty Duck has also visited the gardens, and blogged! As her blog is such a lovely walk around the garden, which I invite you to read, I don't feel I need to repeat what would be a similar blogpost here.

Instead, this is a photo essay of many of the sculptures at Trentham, some in the gardens, some around the lake, in particular, a year-long display of fairies in the garden. It was a rather overcast grey day, and I think the fairies would have preferred the sun, but they still gave their all. I've listed the name of the sculpture where I could find it.


River of Otters, by Gary Burgess


Planting by Nigel Dunnet


Spring, amongst the dandelions

Spring, different angle



Another 'Wishes'

Hare amongst Persicaria

A third Wishes. Three wishes!


I enjoy seeing sculpture in gardens and this was a lot of fun. The fairy sculptures will remain at Trentham until 24th December 2018. It will be interesting to see what will appear in the gardens next year.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Autumn light

A short study of Autumn light in the front garden.

Capturing the exquisite blue of this Salvia patens 'Blue Angel'.

A sense of movement through Panicum virgatum 'Squaw' and Verbena bonariensis.

 The fairy wands of Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln'.

Welcome to Autumn in Gwenfar's Garden.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Front garden - 3 months in

New front garden

The front garden seems to have come a long way since the landscaping was done in June.

Before the landscaping:

After the landscaping (view from above as I seem to have not taken a photo from the same position as above/below):

Plants added in:


The circle and hole in the middle is because this is where the Quince tree goes when it comes in November. I got the landscaper to dig the hole because it's extremely hard clay and it made sense to use his muscles! I have four Stipa tenuissima there in pots, to go around the edge of the Quince border, then I will be adding bulbs and and corms, like Anemone blanda blue, Narcissi falconet, and some snowdrops.

The path is for both function and form. It makes accessing different parts of the border for maintenance easier, and I hope it invites you to want to wander around and explore what plants are in the ground.

I have added the new Acer Griseum tree. Again, I got the landscaper to dig the hole so when the plant arrived it wasn't too taxing on my limited energy to get it in. In the below photograph, it's in the top middle, but I think it's hard to see if you don't know it's there. It's a young tree but will grow and become much more noticeable. I've planted it just where the afternoon sun in winter will hit it to highlight the beautiful paperbark branches (it's known as the paperbark maple).

The wooden structure is the bin store. As time goes on the plants will grow around this more. I've got some Allium purple sensation to go along here as I thought they are tall enough to stand out well against the wood.

It's starting to fill in a bit, but I can see some gaps, even allowing for the eventual full size of those plants currently in the border. So I guess this means I'll have to buy some more plants - what a shame!

The large planter has three different lavender in it, but they are currently swamped by the nasturtiums, which have attempted world domination. I'm hoping the nasturtiums will self seed around the front garden. Eventually I want it to look like a sunny hot jungle. Well, maybe not jungle, this is Sheffield after all. But the primary colour scheme, reds, yellows and oranges, along with the secondary, blues and purples, should look nice and hot.

Still to go in are lots of bulbs, plus some Primulas, more yellows and oranges. And I think I'll have to add a couple of yellow hellebores. Along with the different grasses, I'm trying to give it structure and colour all year around. Also planted are two Sarcococcas, S. confusa and S. hookeriana var. digyna 'Purple Stem', near the path/front door, so we can savour the fragrance going in and out of the house.

I'm really pleased with how it's going along. It's more attractive to me, to bees and butterflies. And to Goldfinches. I daily have flocks, nay, gangs(!) of Goldfinches descend on the bird feeder, which I can see from sitting on the sofa in the lounge room.

Oh, I really need to add some new plants into the Gwenfar's Garden box! I'll get there.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Cars are mobility aids too

People can be incredibly judgemental about people who use mobility aids. They think you are cheating if you suddenly get out of your wheelchair, scooter etc, that you are faking it (often the thought extends to thinking you are lying to get benefits). Disabilities are complex, and they can fluctuate so one day you need your wheelchair to get around, yet a week later you can manage some walking without it. For example, I use a mobility scooter so that I waste less energy getting from A-B, say to the supermarket, so that I have energy to do the task, such as shopping, or meeting a friend for lunch.

After all, you get in and out of a car, a bus, a plane. Sometimes you use a bicycle, other times a train. These allow you to do everything, from getting to and from work, to travelling the world. They help you live your life, to be able to do the things you need or want to do. How is this any different to someone who gets in and out of their wheelchair?

People with any type of disability are frequently criticised for 'relying' on their mobility aids. Yet no-one questions the reliance on cars or public transport. In fact, any type of transport, anything that helps you get from A-B, is a form of mobility aid. Hell, your legs are mobility aids! Just because cars are ubiquitous, doesn't make them any less a mobility aid than a wheelchair or walking stick.

So next time you see someone getting in and out of their mobility scooter, or you find you sometimes see them with a walking stick and other times they aren't using it, before making any judgements, just remember, cars are mobility aids too.


I've created this simple poster (I'm no designer!) to try and express the above. Feel free to download, use it, share, etc. 

My thanks to my dear friends Kate and J-P, whose discussion with me about whether I should get a mobility scooter or not, brought up the idea that cars are mobility aids too yet no-one questions this. This idea totally changed my perspective and getting a scooter has meant I'm much less house-bound or reliant on my partner. It's literally changed my life.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Nursery visit: Millthorpe Nursery

On the weekend I discovered Millthorpe Nursery, in Holmesfield, just on the outskirts of Sheffield. I had pass the sign several times and kept meaning to drop in. And I finally made it, and so glad I did.

It's a small independent nursery, and has only been going a couple of years. They have a mix of hardy perennials, shrubs, annuals, shade lovers, fruit trees, a bit of everything. And it's how they present it that I really loved. None of the usual A-Z rows of plants. Instead different groups of plants are displayed, sitting on top of pallets, to give you ideas on how a plant might be used in your garden.

Plant displays on pallets

I gather they change the displays around depending on the season. They also have a small garden which you can wander around and sit in to enjoy. This showed plants fully formed and gives you further inspiration on how the plants in the nursery might look in your garden.

Head towards the stone wall and arch to find the small garden

Anemanthele lessoniana in it's full glory in the garden

The owners tend to be potting about, tending plants when they aren't assisting customers. If you have a question, as I did about a fern, if they don't know the answer off-hand, they'll look it up for you. I found them friendly and helpful, without crowding you.

Pots used in displays can be purchased

The nursery seemed to have a nice mix of popular plants, but often with an alternative variety from what you might see in a big garden centre. So no Crocosmia Lucifer, but they did have the lovely Crocosmia 'Coleton Fishacre'. This means you have the chance to discover something new, which for me, means it will be worth me dropping in often to see what else I can discover.

As their displays change with the seasons, they will soon be offering Spring flowering bulbs, which you'll be able to buy individually so you can get just the number you want. Although I have already put in my main bulb order online, I think it would be a shame if I didn't return and see what they were offering...

I'm so glad I finally dropped in. There will be lots more dropping in, in the future.

Millthorpe Nursery are generally opened Tuesday to Sunday. See their website for seasonal opening times.

You can follow them on Twitter @MillthorpeNurs and Facebook.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

An interim design for the new back garden

Work has completed on the back garden and I thought I should introduce the design and how it all looks now. The design for the back garden is not yet fully formed, but like with the front garden, I'd really like to get plants out of pots and into the ground to reduce the amount of watering I'm doing, which has been taking a toll on my very limited energy. So here's what the garden looked like when we moved in:

We got rid of the sheds immediately on Freegle, as we have a large garage that is basically my garden shed, so didn't need these. They were taking up growing space. Of course, once they were removed, this is what was behind them:

Ignore the beehive shaped items, they are my compost bins, but otherwise, quite the mess*, and you can see how much the conifers were trying to take over. Even as all this was being done, I was thinking about my interim new layout, which I now present:
Note that the three trees in the top right are the conifers which have been removed.

Originally I was going to have one long bed on the right-hand side, next to the beech hedge. But then we realised it would make trimming the hedge very difficult. So I changed this to the three beds you now see. The spacing allows you to both access the hedge more easily, but also walk around the beds to view the plants from different positions. It's a much better and more interesting layout too. These beds are north-facing, but still get a lot of sun. So they will be for ornamentals only, including some that like a shadier spot. The shade will develop over time as the Acers I'm planting** grow and provide dappled light.

Alongside the hard standing on the left are two beds with my arch in the middle. Because I have acid soil, I'm unable to plant my clematis direct to the soil, so I will be putting them on each side of the arch. These two beds get sun all year around, and will be a mix of herbs, some vegetables and some ornamentals.

The L-shaped bed will be for vegetables. I'm not growing a lot of vegetables at the moment, as they require more attention and energy than I can give nor have. So it will be for easy to grow veg, like my garlic, sorrel and salads.

Finally, the old dilapidated fencing has been replaced. I'm still trying to work out exactly what I'm going to do with this area. There will be a border along the fence, and probably where the pergola is going, but ideas are still whirling around in my head.

All this, along with the Raspberry border, completes the work for now. I have plans for the rest of the garden, including a pond and the pergola, but they are for next year. I also know that there is an issue with some standing water over parts of the grass, when we get lots of rain, and I need to work out how to manage that.

This interim design allows me to get plants into the ground, and the raised beds will make things easier on my back and my energy levels. I can now start gardening whilst I still work out what to do with the rest of the garden. Plus, time to save for the next round of work.

Now that the landscaping has been completed, next up is the planting - the best bit!

* * * * *
My landscaper was Mark Spence, John and Jordan, of Spences Landscapes, Sheffield. They did a fine job and I definitely recommend them.

*I blogged about this in my original new garden blogpost, so I'll not repeat myself here.
**I'll talk about the actual plants once they start going in the ground.