February Flora at Cotswold Garden Flowers

Early Spring at a Plant Nursery in Badsey, Worcestershire


In mid to late February as we are reaching the end of the winter season, life in and on the ground begins to stir and rise.  Snowdrops are perhaps the most noticeable signal that the life cycle is beginning anew. But, however wonderful the purity of white snowdrops, it is also a surprise to note the colourful range and variety of plants that are also out in flower at this time of year especially in our gardens; but only if you are interested and inspired enough to seek them out.

A good example and a place to start on this intriguing journey is the delightful nursery called Cotswold Garden Flowers, to be found on the edge of Badsey, a small village set within the lovely Worcestershire landscape.

You will need your best navigational skills or a good SatNav to find it as you meander through the village maze, taking left turns here and right turns there convincing yourself  that you must be lost – but then finally as the road peters out altogether and becomes a stony track you find, with relief, that you have arrived.

Traveller’s Joy – in February –  at Badsey  (A native clematis with characterful downy winter seedheads  found scrambling amongst the hedgerows of Worcestershire)

Bob Brown who set up and runs the nursery,  is an expert plantsman and gives informative and entertaining talks too.  Plants to him are akin to people they have their good points, their weak points and their quirky points – he knows and notices them all.

He has a team of helpers who he has trained up to give advice and sometimes they may alternate with Bob to give an equally wonderful talk.  The photo below was from a talk by Mandie that I attended in February last year.

Special Varieties of Crocus, Euphorbia, Primroses, Iris, Hellebore, and many more !           (the 3rd week of February 2016)

The format of the talks is based on a theme, but the substance is generated from the plants that are collected from around the nursery on the day and so they are always tied to a particular seasonal moment.

Bob is a plantaholic, he seeks out the unusual; but he also likes to rate his plants from a practical perspective.  His website and nursery catalogue give more useful information about the technical aspects of planting and growing –  such as soil preferences or hardiness ratings.

Talking of hardiness if you go in the winter months when it is cold it’s advisable to wrap up warm as the talk takes place in an underheated room – but there is warmth in the welcome and friendliness of the people you meet and also the coffee and homemade cakes which are delicious.

You can just turn up to a talk, but it’s better and more polite to book a place as the seating is limited.


Link to Cotswold Garden Flowers website:


Find out more about the wild clematis vitalba:



Donovan (b-1946) Scottish born singer-songwriter and guitarist, sings his own folk influenced composition ‘The Lullaby of Spring’ from his double album ‘A Gift from a Flower to a Garden’ released in 1967.

Snowdrops at Painswick Rococo Garden

February is snowdrop time here in the UK.

I usually like to go on a snowdrop stroll, preferably a winter woodland walk; at this   turning point in the year- poised as it is between the gloominess of winter and the hopefulness of spring. A particular favourite place of mine to visit is the Painswick Rococo Garden.


The Painswick Rococo garden is renowned for its swathes of snowdrops with wave upon wave of lush green leaves, splashed and stippled  with spotlit creaminess and whiteness.

The greens and whites of the ground cover contrast perfectly  with shaded tall black-brown trunks of towering trees.  Delicate traceries are formed from the countless tiny gauzy twigs, loosely intertwining, weaving a fine and airy canopy overhead. Inescapably, the eye is drawn upwards; entranced and wondering at the pale grey-blueness above.


It’s best if you can to go, on a bright sunny day when the light is  luminous and the sky is a wintry blue. The low sun casts extended shadows which seem to slip and spill carelessly around and about on the grassy ground.

There are about 6 acres of grounds to explore within the Rococo Garden, and a walk could be long or short depending on how much exploring you wish to do.  The main part of the garden is set within a bowl and so much of it can be viewed from high terraces.

Some parts are manicured and other areas have a more wild feel. I particularly like the waterfall shown below, which is in a shady dell with impressive naturalised snowdrops covering the steep bank..  This part of the garden is damp and mossy with ferns too, it has a sombre and melancholy mood in a Victorian sort of way.




When the snowdrops are out they also hold special talks and you can listen to the history of the garden and learn about the different types of snowdrops that are grown. They also have a small nursery selling a few unusual varieties – although not enough to suit the serious galanthophiles.  There is a cafe too for coffees, lunch and teas – so you could spend a whole day there if you are not in a hurry and are so inclined.




To continue the tranquil mood here is  Chopin’s Nocturne: Opus 9, No 2 in E flat – written between 1830 – 1832 and played  by Sergei Rachmaninoff; most likely in the 1920’s.




The images of the garden are all by myself and the Sunlit Snowdrops photograph  can be purchased from Red Bubble.


This is a link to the Painswick Rococo Garden website.




Allt y Bela – Frost in Usk

Arne Maynard – Garden Designer

It’s a cold and frosty morning today; which has reminded me of a wonderful video that I came across quite recently, of a great garden still in the making . The aerial view video is by William Collinson and shows off a garden in Wales by the gifted garden designer Arne Maynard.  The house and its grounds are called Allt y bela, they can be found nestled and   sequestered within the wild Welsh landscape of Usk.  Allt y bela is not only a home but also an education centre too, as Arne offers workshops and other varied and interesting events. I haven’t been there myself, yet, although it is on my “to go” list !


Clicking  on the above link, should take you to the page listed as “frost”.  The video is labelled “Allt y bela in the frost from Arne Maynard Garden Design.” ( Make sure you watch it at full-screen size. )

Arne’s website  also provides a wealth of information for serious gardeners, it is beautifully presented, and incorporates wonderful photography so is well worth returning to and revisiting – again and again !

AND FINALLY  – here is a rare archival video of the American poet, Robert Frost,  reading his elusive and enigmatic  1922 poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”

The feature photo is my own; it is a composite / digitally altered image showing a winter tree in silhouette with the moon behind.

Not Vital – Scarch

December 2016

I was lucky enough to visit the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in the summer and see an exhibition by the Swiss sculptor Not Vital  (pronounced  Veetahl).  His exhibition is on until the 2nd January 2017 – so there are still a few days left in which to see it.  I must admit I would love to see the Park and it’s Sculptures in the winter; particularly when it is blanketed in  snow – but unfortunately that is most unlikely.

If you are not able to get along and have missed out on his exhibition altogether then you will find this video link especially interesting. It’s worth watching just to hear Not Vital describing the backstory to his work.   I find many of the ideas he outlines and his explanations quite thought provoking.  Most notable is when he is considering  different aspects of snow, allied to the subtle shades discernible in whites, greys and blacks.  I shall also look forward  to the permanent installation of his shimmering “scarch” paper-curl-bridge.

Of further interest is another video which shows Not Vital’s sculptures actually in his own backyard in Engadin,  Switzerland – these could be worth checking out too, especially if you are passing that way or have become a bit bored in St Moritz !

AND FINALLY  – Just in case you were wondering – my feature photo, at the top of the page, is of a partial solar eclipse that occurred in the UK on the 20th March 2015.  As the moon passed across the sun – the sun itself began to look like a crescent moon !  And following on, in a random sort of way, is a song to enjoy called moon shadow, it was composed and sung by by Cat Stevens in 1970.

Happy Christmas !

December 2016 – Very First Blog

Wintertime weather can seem to be a bit gloomy so it’s always good to bring some “cheer” into the house.  I like to keep things simple and easy, and aim to achieve the “effortless” effect !


On my mantelshelf  I’ve brought in some seasonal berries and flowers from the garden to create an informal arrangement – they are placed in a small inexpensive (£6) “studio” vase I bought recently from the Burford Garden Company.  The foliage includes Viburnum tinus (white flowers) Cotoneaster cornubia and horizontalis (red berries) Hedera helix ( ivy florets) and in the background, a bit blurred – but just visible are the scented pale pink flowers of Viburnum bodnantense Dawn.  It’s always worth thinking ahead for winter interest when planting in the garden.

Next to the vase is my favourite christmas card, received this year, it shows a rural Welsh scene ( Capel-y-ffin )  by Eric Ravilious, originally painted, as a watercolour, in 1935 – it is called “New Year Snow”.


I also found fallen to the ground a large twig which I brought indoors.  I put the Beech branchlet in a medium sized vase that I had to hand and filled it with horticultural gravel to hold it upright.  Then, I decorated it with heart and pine cone baubles, bought last year from Waitrose.  You too could easily create your own theme using anything you already have stashed or stored away.

The arrangement was then positioned on the hall table – and it now provides a welcome feature – acting as a starter to the main event – our traditional christmas tree waiting to be seen and viewed in the room beyond.

AND FINALLY – here’s a wondrous christmas carol  ( In Sweet Rejoicing ) although the exact macaronic meaning of the german and latin lyrics may pass me by – it matters not too much !