Woodland clearings

Dear Monty,

I agree that many of our gardens are like woodland clearings, but perhaps a significant number are not, and garden makers with small urban plots would struggle to see the connection perhaps. But even in small urban gardens or even balconies - the principles of shade, and semi- shade and dry areas would apply.

If the population of speckled wood butterflies is anything to go by, then the coal-tip cloister garden is definitely a woodland clearing. The speckled wood may not be the most colourful butterfly - but it is one of my favourites. It has a green iridescence on its thorax and abdomen and cream speckles on a nut brown background on the upper wing surface. I have sold my speckled wood paintings - so it is time for another.

On Sunday we visited another 'woodland clearing' in the form of Montpelier Cottage - the home and garden of noels-garden.blogspot.com just within your beautiful county of Herefordshire. Noel and Jo Elliot open their garden with the NGS.

I think they were brave to open this late in the season for a garden which relies upon perennial planting and a native wildflower meadow. But I admire the fact that they did because this is a real garden doing its real garden thing in its own particular style.

It is a garden on the edge of being wilderness - lightly structured and pruned/cut - with informal paths swallowed by plants - meanderings through bamboo, head height perennials, grasses, meadow, ponds and boggy ground. The house sits at the head of a slope, with terraces of mixed planting overlooking the meadows. It may be the least gardened garden I have visited this year. I mean gardened in the sense of overtly structured planting. I liked the fact that it was gardened with a light and sensitive touch, it reminded me of www.dyffrynfernant.co.uk a garden in Pembrokeshire - with different geology but similar conditions in places.

Light reading in the study

Instruction on how to play a bit of Chopin ?

I am growing towards a blend of natives and perennials in my tiny coal-tip garden, and have been lucky enough to have some amazing natives establish themselves in the wild patches. I still like symmetry and structure though - so am looking for a blend of both. Noel's garden is not formal in any sense but neither is it too sickly a style of prairie planting. I'm going to commit heresy by saying again that I find some prairie designs a bit too contrived ! Arrgh - I've said it now.

Gardens are tricky things to define anyway - and our own personal taste heavily influences our opinions.



  1. Mine is a formal structure - compelled by the tiny garden, then deliberately broken up into rooms to make a journey interesting. It delights me to see what comes up. Our previous garden gave me a wild orchid, travelled with us in a pot.
    Now I have a huge clump of yellow daisy with large elaborately shaped leaves - a volunteer that simply appeared.

    1. I love the idea of volunteer plant. I am growing more fond of native perennials that volunteer to appear in the garden - and deliberately encourage them.


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