Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Our next stop, on the Sunday, was to pay a return visit to Snowshill. We had last visited in 2009. So many Americans visit the Cotswolds and enjoy the pretty villages with their thatched roofs. Few find their way to Snowshill. You don't even need to be a gardener to marvel at what the eccentric Charles Pagett Wade created at Snowshill. It's not just the garden but the contents of his house. It's a museum.

Although the house is on the main street in the village of Snowhill, access to the house and garden is along side the edge of the property and the orchard and then up the long pathway to the house. We chose to visit first the gardens taking the path along the high wall. Entrance to the house is by timed ticket.

Entering through the gateway, at the bottom of the garden, painted in Wade Blue.

The garden was not quite so colorful as the last time we had seen it, which had been in July, the peak of English summer. Nevertheless Snowshill will never disappoint. We sat on a bench tucked under a hedge and ate our snack lunch.

Looking back to the gate through which we had entered.

The well garden.

The Armillary Court

"The plan of a garden is much more important than the flowers in it" So said Mr Wade. He certainly knew how to design.

Then it was time to go inside. Here's a little bit of background on Mr Wade and his unusual collection. It began when he was 7 years old. His Grandmother had an 18th Century Cantonese lacquered cabinet. On Sundays Charles was allowed to open up the doors to the cabinet. He was fascinated by all he found in drawers, nooks and crannies.

He began his own collection, which in the end amounted to 22,000 pieces. At the end of the First Word War he purchased the derelict Snowshill property with the intention that it should house his collection. He was never to live in the house but lived instead in the Priest's cottage.

Mr Wade was interested in collecting items of exquisite craftmanship and design. He was a treasure seeker traveling from market town to village, to the watchmaker's shop, the smithy, the scrap yard, the ship chandler's yard, mills, barns, cellars and attics in search of treasures. He was fortunate to have the where with all and to be searching at a time when money was short and people were selling their collections and anything they had in order to make ends meet. How fortunate we are that this collection is there for all to see. One really can't take in everything at one visit. The house is a treasure chest of beautiful objects. Here are just a few of the many items he collected.

A beautiful work box.

Rows of leather pails.

I doubt any of us slept on a bed like this but I'll bet most of us heard our mothers say "Goodnight, sleeptight" Now you can see why.

On our way to our B&B in Bourton-on-the-Water we walked in the lavender fields near the village of Snowshill.


Last fall David removed the two crape myrtle trees from the back level of the front courtyard garden.

Guess what? They are back, and there are more of them now that there were before. Every little piece of root that was left in the ground has sprouted a new tree creating quite a thicket. I fear they will not be going away any time soon. One bonus will be many seedling trees which I will attempt to plant somewhere else outside the walls. I already have one that came from a seed. It is planted behind the pool garden. Unfortunately it is looking crispy brown this year not having had any water all summer. I think I may have its replacement.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


UH HU, UH HU, GARDEN'S BARELY STAYING ALIVE. ( To the music of Saturday Night Fever)

We are breaking more records today, 73 days over 100. The previous record was set yesterday! Looks like we will also at least match the previous record high set in September 2000. That was 112. Already the temperature is 111 and it is only 4:40pm. The hottest part of our day is yet to come. Everything is still, out there. No birds, butterflies or bees.

They tell us relief is in sight towards the end of the week with temperatures in the low 90s.


We were to spend the weekend of June 4th with our friends. The last time we visited was in 2009 and I posted about their beautiful garden. It is still as beautiful today as it was then.

Friday June 3th 2011

Their greenhouse rivals any that I have ever been in and it is chock full of plants.

I think his cactus are happier to be in England than over here.

So many people in England have conservatories built onto the backs of their homes. The climate is perfect and one corner of the greenhouse provides the perfect place to enjoy morning coffee and read the newspaper.

The next morning cloudy skies made photography a little easier. There was just in time to take a quick look around the garden before we set off for the day to visit Coughton Court.

Every English garden must have its trough with alpine plantings. Years ago kitchen sinks were rectangular porcelain. When they went out of style they were converted into troughs by covering with a hypertufa mix. Today people are probably chipping off the coating in order to put the sink back in the kitchen, such is the popularity of the country sink in today's kitchens!

Time to leave.


The Hall has been in the same family since it was built in 1409. Can you imagine having a family home that had been passed down through so many generations.

We first went inside the house learning about the history of the Throckmorton family. This Catholic family were connected with pre-reformation plots including Gunpowder plot. They were one of the few Catholic families to keep their estates intact throughout those turbulent times, and keeping their faith intact, members of the family became leaders in the emancipation of Catholics in the 18th and 19th centuries. From the rooftop the view is down over the formal garden.

Oh, how very English. The Sussex trug with a collection of old pots, string and well kept tools. The current family is responsible for the walled garden which we were to visit after a stop for lunch at the stable courtyard cafe.

The walled garden with the C of E Church of St Peter.

On the way home we passed a gypsy encampment on the roadside. It seems they have now reverted back to their old style of caravans.
Sunday we would leave to spend a couple of days in the Cotswolds with return visits to Snowshill and Hidcote.

Friday, August 26, 2011


Most of my efforts at restoring order in the garden have been concentrated on the sunken garden and the vegetable garden. Yesterday, early in the morning, I went out to do some work at the front.

The dry creek areas and the large expanse of decomposed granite were looking in pretty good shape. There is a drip line which runs along side the garage and the front wall. Nothing else gets watered unless I go out with a hose.

A number of plants have made their home here. Mexican feather grass, yaupon holly, mullein and a Texas sage. They seems to be holding on even in the absence of water.

All the agaves are standing bolt upright in order to protect their large leaf surfaces.

The lantana at the top end is stunted. All in all the area looks pretty good and is holding its own.

In the spring David removed the large Vitex that had been growing in the corner of the garage. Still unsure what to plant there I dug out a seedling vitex as a replacement. It seems to have taken off and I may just end up leaving it there. I will have other garden expenses this fall. I rather like the vitex, despite the fact that it is a weed. I find the smell attractive.
I am disappointed that the area on the other side of the dry gravel has taken a serious hit. I had large stands of Copper Canyon daisy. All seems to be lost and I shall miss the mass of yellow flowering this fall.
It only took me half an hour to clean up the few weeds and take out old mulleins. Then I gave the agaves a drink of water.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Every day since we got home I have been out in the garden for the only 2 hours it is possible; 7-9am. The sun just wakes up every morning, bless 'im, and that makes it impossible to stay out there any longer. Of course there are others out there with me. If you look closely you can spot 2 hummingbirds seriously annoyed with me because I was out there in their garden with their Texas sunflowers. What was that I said about not allowing those plants in the garden this year.

They are there anyway and in the end I will let most of them stay. Mostly because there is little else doing as well as they are and the hummingbirds and goldfinches love them.

My vegetable beds are known for having plants other than vegetables in them. These zinnias self seeded in here and took advantage of the water that was meant for the tomato plant. They are doing a whole lot better than the tomato.

It seems zinnias steal the show right now although I normally have lots of these growing in between the pavers this year there is only this one clump.

But right now my absolute favorite is the Gomphrena 'fireworks' It is sure to be in next years garden.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Arriving the previous night at our B&B on the Pembrokeshire coast, we were to learn the true meaning of being 'farmed out' It seems, despite our booking, because we were only staying for one night, we were to be 'farmed out' to a relative a couple of miles away. Although the accommodation was not really 'up to scratch' I have to say our hostess was delightful. She didn't mind at all the early breakfast at 6:30am and even went so far as to make us a packed lunch.

Destination Skomer Island, to view the puffins. We couldn't have picked a more perfect day. It made the wait for tickets down at the cove all the more tolerable.

This is the scene that met us when we arrived at 7:30 am hoping to get on the first ferry at 9:30am. Knowing full well that each trip across to the island would only take 50 people, it seemed pretty unlikely that we would be getting on that first ferry. By the time our turn for tickets came we found ourselves with tickets for the second ferry of the day at 10am. (There is a limit to the numbers of people they allow on the island to protect the nesting birds.) In the meantime we took a hike across the headland.

and beautiful it was. I photographed the flowers growing in what normally is a very harsh climate.


Sea pinks.

Here's our boat arriving. Make no mistake fitting 50 people onto this boat was a squash. As we neared the island we started to see puffins flying out to catch the small eels and fish they feed to their waiting young.

Taking the steps up to the cliff top where we were greeted by representative of the Wildlife Trust who briefed us on what to expect, where to go and what to see.

We then headed out on the trail.We took the route towards the Wick. We were here to see puffins!

The cliff top was a sea of red campion and bluebells.

We knew we had arrived at the spot when we saw this group ahead. The puffins were nesting in holes in the ground just above the edge of the cliff.

This one had just landed and was waiting to go down into its hole.

It was so easy to get close-up photographs of them. They were very willing subjects only keeping a watchful eye out for the Great Black-backed gulls who would really like to make a meal out of them. We also saw nesting Razorbills, Fulmars and Kittiwakes. No Manx Shearwaters. They were safe in their burrows. The Shearwaters ride the ocean winds all day, only coming ashore under the safety cloak of night. They are unable to walk well, crash landing on the ground, and must hurry to their burrow to avoid becoming the meal of the marauding black backed gulls. Moonlit nights are a problem for them and we saw much evidence of those who had not been so lucky to make it back to the nest.
Our visit was short but we saw what we came to see. Now we must get back tot he mainland and get on the road to Worcester. We had dinner plans with the friends with whom we were staying.

With long summer days we arrived in time to enjoy the late afternoon sun in the garden with a glass of wine and good friends. It was the end to a perfect summer's day in England.

Tomorrow more National Trust gardens in their area.