My first garden visit of the year was to Dunham Massey, last week. Much was written about the opening of the new winter garden when it first opened just over 12 months ago. Designed by the head gardener there (Damian Harris), Roy Lancaster advised on its planting.
As it was the middle of March, the winter garden was shrugging off its winter woollies and showing a glimpse of its bright spring clothes. Beneath the overcoat of deciduous and evergreen structure, the new season’s growth vied for attention.
Some might tire of seeing the bright white stems of Betula utilis var. jacquemontii used to provide winter interest, but it works, although the effect will be much more striking in a few more years time.
In spring, the white flowers of Anemone nemerosa pick up the white of the bark. The marbled foliage of the cyclamen has a similar effect.
Again, dogwoods aren’t a novel way of introducing colour into a winter garden, but they’re common for a reason – they do bring colour, and when the sun strikes them, they burn brightly. Unfortunately my photographs don’t do them justice.
The snowdrops had gone over when I visited but the daffodils that line the curves of the paths guide you through the garden, and their sheer numbers and brightness bring a child-like smile to my face.
Dead flowers and seedheads are kept, to good effect. The flowerheads of hydrangeas (something I dislike when they are their pale, washed out living selves) take on a certain elegance when in sepia tints. Phlomis punctuate the lower-growing spring plants.
Now is when winter slips away and spring leaps forward like a circus ring master to introduce the ever-increasing number of floral acts vying to take centre stage. To see Dunham Massey at this cross-over of seasons is special, and when the garden has grown into its new clothes a little more, it will be even more so.