All posts by sharondonnelly1

Sunday 17th July 2016

The Friday group ended the year with a very successful charity day to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund. It was a beautiful day – the garden looked amazing and we had our usual variety of interesting stalls, fantastic food and lovely music to enhance the atmosphere. The auction and raffle were great fundraisers as ever and everyone was very generous in their support for this charity. We finished the day with an end of year meal – thanks to Bridge for another year of inspirational teaching and an opportunity to spend time every week in her beautiful garden.

Friday 8th July 2016

Roses are the star of the show in the garden at the moment so we spent some time looking at a few of the 60 plus different roses that Bridge has at the Garden House.

  • Rosa ‘Chevy Chase’ is a particularly spectacular rambling rose that is growing up one of the arches. It is currently in full bloom with large clusters of small double  crimson flowers.


  • Rosa ‘William Lobb’ is an old moss shrub rose with beautiful blooms that open to various shades of purple, mauve and violet-grey. It has a rich perfume and the stems have dense thorns.


  • Rosa ‘Charles de Mills’ is a shrub rose which has large opulent rich crimson/purple flowers. It can be prone to mildew so needs to be pruned carefully to ensure that that the air can circulate well. It has a light fragrance and benefits from some support. Bush or hybrid tea roses generally don’t do so well on chalk so they do need lots of feeding.


  • Rosa ‘The Fairy’ is a little shrub with graceful, spreading and fan-like growth. It has sprays of tiny, soft pink pompon flowers. It is tough, reliable and disease-free.


  • Rosa ‘Dorothy Perkins’ is a rambling rose with cascades of pink flowers. It can be prone to mildew so needs to be cut back hard after flowering and fed regularly.


  •  Rosa ‘Francis E Lestor’ is one of the most reliable of all rambling roses. It has huge bunches of small, single white blooms, delicately tinted with soft pink and a strong fragrance. It has orange hips in the autumn. These are pictures of the rose at Wollerton Old Hall gardens from a recent Garden House trip.

Julia also read from The Morville Year by Katherine Swift as the Garden House trip had also included a trip to the Dower House garden at Morville Hall in Shropshire. It was a very appropriate piece about losing control in the garden which we could all relate to. Katherine Swift wrote “I admit that my garden is wilder that most supposedly formal gardens, especially this year, when everything has made yards of extra growth. The long grass has fountains of feathery seed-heads weeks earlier than usual. The roses are lolling forwards cascading on to the paths….Not what I had intended, but it’s too late now: disarrange a single shoot, attempt to prop things up, try to regain control, and the spell is broken. It is a beautiful tangle. My garden has a life of its own, independent of me. I like that.”

Activities in the garden this week:

  • Planting out in the cut flower bed
  • Taking cuttings of Erysimums
  • Feeding the pots
  • Planting pumpkins in the compost heap
  • Planting out in the veg bed – more mangetout, leeks and beetroot
  • Planting Dahlias in metal pots
  • Pulling up some of the Lysimachia punctata in the yellow bed which was taking over and planting out Coreopsis


Friday 24th June 2016


Discussion today focused on Dianthus which are plants that do well on chalk. Dianthus is a  genus of about 300 species of flowering plants which are mainly native to Europe and Asia. The species are mostly herbaceous perennials but a few are annual or biennial. After flowering it is important to cut over the tops of the plants to stop them getting leggy.  Most Pinks with typical dianthus foliage are propagated by taking ‘pipings’ in early summer. Pipings are the top 2” of non-flowering stems. Just pull them off, making sure that you have a node at the base where all the energy for growth is stored. Put round the edge of small pots in compost mixed with Perlite to make it free-draining.

Dianthus carthusianorum is a variable evergreen perennial with  stems that grow to 50cm or more, rising from a woody base. Leaves are dark green, clustered and numerous at the base and the flowers  are light magenta pink. They work well to give an airy feel amongst other perennials  and can be easily grown from seed.


Dianthus ‘Mrs Sinkins’ is an old-fashioned type of Pink, with glaucous foliage, pure white flowers and very fragrant.


Activities in the garden this week:

  • The heavy rain has made very lush growth everywhere and also made some foliage collapse, so, general tidying up, dead-heading and weeding.
  • Tidying Little Dixter and changing the display.
  • Sowing biennial seeds.
  • Moving succulents out of the conservatory where they were getting too dry.
  • Feeding the pelargoniums with diluted liquid from the wormery.
  • Potting up fuchsias for display.
  • Potting up more vegetables from the greenhouse for the large-pot display, which is looking very good.
  • Weeding the big herbaceous & rose border, and collecting rose petals fro Rose Petal jam.




Friday 17th June 2016


Back in the Garden House this week with lots to do to ensure the garden is looking good and to keep up with the successional planting plans. The weather has resulted in an explosion of slugs and snails and rapid growth of weeds. However, the beautiful planting is shining through – the poppies and dianthus in ‘Lil’s bed’ are looking stunning and the sweet peas should soon be in full flower. Elsewhere the new rockery is really taking shape and the sunk garden is looking stunning with the roses in full bloom over swathes of nepeta.  The garden will be open again on 17th July for the big charity event so the next few groups will focus on planning for that event as well as ensuring the garden is at its best for this important fundraising initiative and finale for the Friday group of 2015/6.


We looked at some alpine plants that had been bought to plant in pockets in the new rockery. There are many alpine dianthus that will grow well on chalk including Dianthus Bath’s pink


and Dianthus anatolicus which is a hummock forming pink with tiny flowers.


We also looked at Dianthus cruentus which has tall spikes of red flowers – this will be planted as part of an arrangement in a pot.


Another plant for the rockery is Helianthemum ‘Apricot’ which is a great ground covering plant ideal for a sunny spot in a rock garden.


Activities in the garden this week:

  • Planting in the rockery

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  • Pricking out herbs and other annuals in the greenhouse

greenhouse herbs

  • Potting up containers
  • Weeding and sorting out the tulip tree bed

tulip tree bed

  • Sorting out Little Dixter and the arrangements of different vegetable crops in pots




Friday 3rd June 2016

Hilary Pat.jpg

Lots of new developments in the garden this year – including the new rockery area which is really taking shape and has opened out this area of the garden. Hilary and Pat continued with this project moving the rocks into place and then deciding where to put the plants. Other activities in the garden this week included:

  • Collecting  salvias from around the garden so they can be planted in the end bed when the poppies are over
  • Planting out sunflowers into this end bed
  • Planting up the seat that Vicky made with sedums and sempervivums
  • Potting up and sorting out the pelargoniums
  • Planting out the nicotiana in the terrace beds
  • Generally weeding and tidying and getting the garden ready for the plant sale

Ally julia

We looked at a range of different plants and shrubs for the plant identification this week including:

  • Kolkwitzia amabilis ‘Pink cloud’ or Beauty bush is a vigorous medium-sized deciduous shrub with arching branches which bear clusters of small, bell-shaped pink flowers from late spring.


  • Buddleja globosa or orange ball tree is a large semi-evergreen or deciduous shrub  with dark green leaves and small globe like heads of sweet-scented bright orange-yellow flowers in early summer. Unlike other Buddleias it does not need hard pruning every year – it can be lightly pruned after it has finished flowering.Buddleja-globosa
  • Philadelphus coronarius ‘Aureus’ or mock orange is a medium-sized deciduous shrub with yellow leaves when young that later turn green. The flowers are creamy-white, with a strong, heavy scent, in early summer.


  • Helianthemum ‘Wisley pink’ is a shrubby perennial, excellent for growing in the rock garden, or at the front of a  sunny border. It has large single soft-pink flowers and silvery-grey foliage. It needs good drainage, particularly through the winter. The plants  can be sheared over  after blooming, to prevent them becoming leggy.


A couple of pictures from the very successful plant sale on 4th June –

miranda's plants


Friday 27th May 2016


The morning kicked off with a reflection on some of the inspirational aspects of the Chelsea Flower show-often just an aspect of one of the displays in the flower marquee or a particular plant combination. Bridge reminded us that it is also the time to consider giving the ‘Chelsea chop’ to some herbaceous plants in the garden. This method of pruning can extend the flowering season and also improve the shape of some plants like Sedums. It can feel quite difficult to shear back a plant in the prime of its growth, however, cutting back part of the clump can really prolong the flowering period for plants like Phlox and Heleniums. This technique can also prevent tall perennials like Veronicastrum from flopping.

We looked at three of the plants that were to be potted up together in the big terracotta pots in the garden:

  • Aeonium Shwarzkopf is a succulent that has neat rosettes of fleshy almost black leaves.It is an erect, sub-shrub succulent that produces spectacular large panicles of bright yellow flowers in late spring. It is an ideal container plant that needs to be brought inside in the winter months.5498698954_dd2d4723c0
  • Persicaria odorata or Vietnamese coriander is a frost tender perennial. The top of the leaf is dark green, with brownish markings, while the underneath of the leaf is red.


  • Verbena ‘Sissinghurst’ is a bright pink trailing verbena which is great to use in a pot.


There is also a plan to plant Rhodochiton and Thunbergia Red, two annual climbers, to grow up the structure in the centre of the dahlia bed.

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Activities in the garden this week:

  • Work continued to develop the rockery area with Hilary and Pat tasked to take out the large phormium.
  • The beds around the willow arch were tidied with nerines added along the wall
  • The large terracotta pots were planted up
  • The new dahlia bed was prepared – with a plan to grow the dahlias within a frame of hazel and birch.
  • Cosmos ‘Click Cranberry’ were planted in the redcurrant beds
  • Lettuces were planted in large bowls
  • More potting on of seedlings

Katy Mc

  • Continued work on the top beds and terrace beds including planting out of gauras
  • The wallflowers were taken out of the bed by the greenhouse to make way for dahlias

Julia K.jpg

  • Work continued on ‘Lil’s bed’ at the bottom of the garden

lil sally