It is interesting to see how a world famous garden looks in this drab season when most of our gardens are collapsing and falling asleep for the winter. Beth Chatto is deservedly renowned for her artistry in dealing with, not just colour, but texture, shape and form. Even on a dreary day in early winter there were pleasing vistas and plenty of interesting plant combinations.
The beautiful, deciduous, swamp cypress, Taxodium distichum with its lovely bronze foliage was looking marvellous by the pond. I love its knobbly knees like little mini-sculptures all around its base. I read that it used to be thought that these knees are to help it ‘breathe’ as it grows in swampy waters but it is now thought they are to provide stability to the tree.
By the pond there is a fine stand of the red stems of Cornus alba ‘Westonbirt’ and in front of it masses of the beautiful, blue, autumn-flowering Crocus speciosus ‘Conqueror’
The ponds here look wonderful all year round but I love them in winter with all the russet colours and the lovely shapes . The royal fern turns a lovely colour before it disappears.
I love ferns all year round but some of them really come into their own in winter. Can anyone tell me the name of this lovely little bronze fern which contrasts so well with the foliage round it?
The evergreen Polystichum setiferum is gorgeous all winter. The photo is of Polystichum setiferum ‘Wollaston’ which is like a lovely pea-green shuttlecock with lacy feathers.
Plants which keep a pleasing shape and colour are invaluable for winter.I love this little Saxifraga dentata with its pinked edges.
Bergenia is a wonderful plant for winter, especially if you get one of the forms which turns red in winter. ‘Bressingham Red’ and ‘Eric Smith’ have a wonderful winter colour but it is best to choose them in winter to pick out the colour you like.
I’m not sure which Bergenia this is but I think it looks great with the grass. Grasses are of course wonderful at this time of the year I love this Pennisetum alopercuroides with its furry bottle brushes.
I’m not sure which the next grass is, maybe someone will know. Is it perhaps a Molinia? It needs lots of space to look its best. Behind it is a Melianthus which will collapse when we have a really hard frost but looks wonderful at the moment.
There are of course many trees and shrubs looking good in this wonderful garden and I will finish with just one of them : Malus hupehensis. I love this whole genus because they make lovely shaped trees, they have beautiful blossom in spring, (in this case white), and then of course you get the wonderful fruit. Malus hupehensis is one of my favourites but I also adore Malus tranistoria and Malus coronaria ‘Charlottae’. As you see Malus hupehensis has masses of small red fruit. This tree is particularly graceful.
As you can imagine I didn’t come away from my visit to the nursery empty-handed. Well, be fair, who would? Tomorrow I’ll tell you what I bought.