Saturday, March 26, 2011

A winter garden in spring

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.

Betula utilis var. jacquemontii

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.

Wood anemone Betula utilis var. jacquemontii Cyclamen leaves and Betula utilis var. jacquemontii

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.

Cornus Midwinter Fire

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. 

Daffodils hoggin path

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.

Hydrangea head Phlomis

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.


K said...

I love the image of the hydrangea heads

VP said...

I was wondering how Dunham Massey's coming along - I was there about a month after it'd opened.

It was an extremely windy November's day. I loved sitting on one of the plentiful benches listening to the trees roar.

WV says tring - which I believe is a more musical version of your fwing!

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

I love the massed daffs. The birches are one of my favourite trees, so I could never be tired of them. My anenomes are still not out - not the ones under the birches anyway.

Helen/patientgardener said...

thanks for sharing. I have just decided today that Cornus us what I need in my front garden for winter interest