A garden for all seasons
For the past seven years I have been lucky enough to enjoy a second career as a garden designer, and whether it’s working with a completely blank canvas or just giving a garden a bit of a makeover, I get huge amounts of job satisfaction from my work.
Photography is also an integral part of indulging my passion for gardening and design. Taking my camera for a walk around a beautiful garden is both a great way to relax and also a source of inspiration for my own planting designs.
There are so many wonderful gardens in my area, some of which just open occasionally for the National Garden Scheme, and others that are open all year round. My favourite local haunt is the National Trust gardens at Dunham Massey near Altrincham which includes a 7 acre winter garden. Under the expert guidance of head gardener Emily Chandler the gardens are flourishing and there is always something new to see.
To show you the whole of the gardens would take far more space than this blog allows, but let me take you on a little tour of the winter garden and some of its’ gems through the seasons.
I’ll start with the daffodils. These are spectacular at Dunham. There are so many varieties planted in the garden, from the early ones such as Rijnvelds ‘Early Sensation’ right through to the late flowering Narcissus ‘Actaea’ pictured below.
And this is one of my favourite spring bulbs -pictured below – Fritillaria Meleagris aka Snake’s head fritillary is establishing itself really well at Dunham now.
One of the paths that wind through the winter garden, with Magnolia stellata looking rather lovely in the foreground.
The winter garden in summer is a quiet place, as you might expect, but still my favourite part of the garden. At times you can almost feel like you have the place to yourself as the majority of visitors tend to head for the spectacular perennial borders and rose garden. This photo (below) was taken in early June last year and for me it captures the understated natural beauty of the garden.
Butterflies and insects are attracted to the wildflowers that are allowed to grow here in summer.
And in high summer the hydrangeas have their day enjoying the dappled shade of the trees.
What a glorious sight this is with the scarlet leaves of the acers falling over one of the pathways! I was lucky enough to capture this image below on a perfect autumn day a couple of years ago.
Underneath the many mature trees in the winter garden a carpet of pink Cyclamen hederifolium brings colour to the woodland floor.
Callicarpa bodinieri ‘Profusion’ has the most unusual coloured berries. The birds tend to leave these alone, so the purple berries last well into winter.
We don’t tend to get much snow in this part of Cheshire, but when we do the winter garden takes on a new prettiness. The seed heads of Phlomis russeliana look stunning when covered with snow.
Hammelis or Witch Hazel is one of my favourite scented winter shrubs and the flowers are a dream to photograph. There are many varieties at Dunham and they add colour even in the depths of winter.
And although we think of snowdrops as a sign of spring, February is the month when they are at their best.
I hope that this little photo tour of the winter garden at Dunham Massey has been of interest. I’d highly recommend a visit at any time of year if you’re in the area. The site is fully accessible to disabled visitors https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunham-massey#Facilities