Monday, 25 September 2017

A Visit to the gardens at Auchlochan

Tucked away in the countryside near Lesmahagow in Lanarkshire is the retirement village of Auchlochan (no I am not planning ahead). The village itself is purpose built with a variety of different types of housing and levels of support for residents. What else makes this place unique is it's situation within 50 acres of gardens and landscaped grounds. There is mature woodland, lakes, ponds and many borders and planted areas around the houses and buildings carefully planned to give colour and interest all year round. 

Water lilies on one of the many ponds and lakes

As you would expect from an old estate there are plenty mature specimen trees in the grounds, including Giant Redwoods (Sequoiadendron giganteum). There are many expanses of water in the estate, from large lakes with islands, a Geneva style fountain and boat to smaller ponds covered in water lilies. These are home to varied wildlife and birds, including swans, ducks and heron.

You can see the kind of weather we had for our visit

Borders and gardens in front of and around the buildings at Auchlochan are carefully planted to provide flower and foliage interest all year round. If you are going to retire to a purpose built retirement complex I can't think of a better place than this where you can enjoy the gardens all year without the hard work!

Ligularias were a big feature in a lot of borders when we were there, giving height and blasts of yellow and orange. Carefully planted against dark purple back grounds such as cherry and hazel the yellow really stood out.

Some of the colourful borders in the walled garden

The hidden secret at Auchlochan, tucked away behind old stone walls is the beautiful 1.5 acre walled garden. Originally built in the early 1900s it was used to provide fruit and vegetables for the estate. Now it is a delight of colours, meandering paths, quiet areas to sit and an elevated ramp where you can look down on the gardens. When we were there in July the mid summer perennials were in full swing and making a tapestry of colours across the gardens. A lot of the trees are now mature and create perfect dappled shade for shade loving plants and places to sit on a bench and enjoy the peace and quiet. So come with me for a walk through Auchlochan walled garden.

The curious Inula hookeri with it's unfurling spiral buds

Heleniums in bloom, great for flower arranging too

Looking down the central pathway in the walled garden, I love the benches picked out in blue

Allium cepa proliferum, the tree onion, also growing in our herb garden in the nursery

Gravel paths wind through the borders, under trees and around corners

An impressive Gunnera in a corner of the walled garden

Dahlias after one of many rain showers

Cheeky mimulus

The walled garden is a delight of great plant combinations and vintage features such
as this stone sundial

Entrance or exit?

So many paths to explore and in amongst the casual exuberance of the perennials
are closely clipped hedges and conifers

A door to where?

There was plenty of wild life too

Photographing the photographer, Sarah-Fiona waiting for the breeze to stop so she can get a shot

Under the Gunnera

Inulas and Crocosmia with touches of blue from Eryngiums

The conifers provide a great background for this really zingy combination of flowers

I loved the white Astilbes here, just enough to balance the hot colours

Not sure what these were for, perhaps for guiding hoses around the borders?
What do you think?

Isn't this a great colour combination?

More Heleniums, can't get enough of them, I love their dark centres,
such a contrast to the yellow and orange petals

Inulas with frilly petals

A stone carving peeping out from under a Japanese Acer

So much colour

More Ligularias

An elevated view of the walled garden at Auchlochan

Berries on the rowans along the banks of one of the lakes

Plenty lichen on the Rowan trees too

Harebells on the verges

After our walk around the gardens and grounds we went for lunch in the little cafe bistro. It's a bit odd I have to say as it doubles as the dining room for residents of the complex. I very much felt we were a bit out of place as the old folks had their lunches. The food and service were good and reasonably priced. Just a bit odd I felt, but that was maybe just me. 

So if you're ever in the Lesmahagow area make sure you find this wee hidden gem of a garden at Auchlochan, there is interest all year round so always something to see.

If you want to find out about more interesting places to visit, have a look at my page Walks and Places of Interest

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Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Autumnal Abundance

This week's cafe flowers

Any one got a boat? Webbed feet? Extra wellies I can borrow. The weather isn't getting any drier here which is a shame as September can often be a lovely month. Still I've got plenty propagation I can do in the potting area and the poly tunnel while it is raining. My aim by the end of the month is to have worked through the stock list propagating everything that we are low in for next year, this has been an ongoing task for the last month or so and I'm nearly finished. The poly tunnel is full which does lead me to wonder where I'm going to put all the over wintering plants, hmmmmm.

I love autumn, and then I found this heart shaped pelargonium
 leaf in the greenhouse when I was watering during the week

which summed it all up really

There is a definite hint of winding down for the season as the trees start to colour up and all the autumn flowers are out. The nursery is still full of colour and it's a great time to plant as the soil is still warm. Visitors to the nursery and gardens at this time of year are often surprised at how much colour there is and how long it will last. The Asters are just coming into flower and will go on until the first frosts, which can be November if we are lucky. Persicarias are half way through their flowering season and will go on onto October as will the Sedums and Rudbeckias. Its a great time to visit the nursery and gardens and get late season inspiration to carry colour in your garden through to winter.

Aster (Symphyotrichum) novi-belgii 'Marie Ballard'


Lots of lat Summer / Autumn colour in the nursery gardens

Lathyrus latifolius

Matteucia struthiopteris
Phlox 'Hesperis'


          Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Alba'                                      Sanguisorba officinalis 'Crimson Queen' 
                                                                                                and Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Rosea'

Sedum 'Herbsfreude'

Back at home youngest son Daniel has been back in the kitchen, He goes through phases of cooking almost every night (which is very nice after a busy day at the nursery) or not at all. We are in a cooking phase now and have amongst other dishes been treated to an Ottolenghi dish - duck with orange and star anise sauce with mashed parsnips. It was lovely, as is every dish he cooks.

Duck with orange and star anise sauce

I've been in the kitchen too,
back to baking, which I love.
This week it was honey cake,
 almondy and moist and
not a soggy bottom in sight!

Back to the nursery and it's time to buy and plant spring bulbs, us gardeners are always planning ahead to the next season and the next year. This year we are doing our pick and mix bulbs again. You can buy as many or as little of each variety as they are priced individually. We have several varieties of Tulips, Daffodils, Crocus and Allium as well as Frittalaria, Scilla, bluebells, and other small bulbs. Ideal for containers and pots or in the garden in borders to give some colour from February onwards. 

Daffodils ready for planting

This years pick and mix bulbs

At home I've been catching up in the garden on a Monday too, tidying up after a neglectful summer and preparing for the colder months ahead. The wild strawberries in the fruit planter has been taking advantage of me being busy and has spread everywhere. Right through both planters, down the sides and across the patio. The Strawberry 'Cambridge Favourite' was being smothered, so I have removed wild strawberry to a big pot of its own and divided the 'Cambridge Favourite' and planted it through the whole fruit planter. 

Sorting out the strawberries

I've put my auricula primulas away for winter. They've been on the patio since they flowered in spring and now it's time for a weed and tidy before being tucked away under the bench in the cold greenhouse. They are hardy but benefit from being kept drier through winter so the unheated greenhouse works perfectly, they get the protection without too much heat.

Auricula primulas tucked away
 in the cold greenhouse

My tidied and watered greenhouse on Monday

Pelargonium 'Ardens', My favourite Pelargonium

Pelargonium sidoides, my second favourite

Sunflower 'Claret' in the
herb garden
Sanguisorba and Lythrum in the
 stream garden in the nursery

A troll in the stream garden!

Invaders in the lawn at home

How has your week been, are you enjoying the autumn colours too?

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