Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Arundel Castle, England, Part III

In this post I will continue with my tour through the Arundel Castle grounds. After we visited the Chapel Garden and the Fitzalan Chapel of Arundel Castle we moved on to explore the grounds further.

(you can click on the photos to enlarge)

This beautiful red wrought iron gate was so inviting to walk through, already promising more lovely gardens to come.

And indeed, what be saw next surprised us and exceeded all our expectations. A formal garden with beautiful wooden structures, terracotta containers, lovely trees, and many interesting architectural features to look at. It completely convinced me that any garden, big or small, should hold a surprise, something extraordinary and unexpected just for the mere pleasure of the visitor and the gardener itself. By the way, in the background you see the Roman Catholic Arundel Cathedral, which was build for the 15th duke of Norfolk.

If I remember correctly the wife of the current duke of Norfolk is in charge of the design of the Arundel Castle Gardens nowadays. I think, she is doing a fabulous job blending traditional garden styles with modern elements and this way keeping the gardens fresh and exciting to visit. Again, if my memory does not fail me, this part of the gardens was called the Collector Earl's Garden. Interestingly, the urns and columns that you see in this area are made out of green oak rather than out of stone, which you may assume at the first glance when you look at them. I love the golden elements adorning the urns. They just add the right amount of "bling". In this garden many beautiful terracotta containers were used, which convinced me again that they have their place in a garden and can add so much charm to it. I wish I could grow 'lady's mantle', which is used at the feet of the urns surrounding the pond.

Close-up of one of the golden lion heads of the urns. On this photo you can clearly see that the urns are made out of wood rather than stone. I wonder why they choose to go with wood.

Looking into the opposite direction. Isn't it a breathtaking sight?

Here I took a picture from a slightly different angle. To the left you can see the red wrought iron entry gate. The whole composition of this area is just so perfect.

Just one more shot so that you get a more complex impression.

Architectural features blend perfectly with this garden.

A closer look at this building. I believe it is adorned with elk antlers. How neat is that?

Looking back at the Cathedral. I think that the urns, columns and the wooden pavilion structure visually go very well with the Cathedral in the background.

Here you see the large wooden tunnel like structure a little bit closer. Somehow my husband did not want to move out of my photos of this structure. So now he has to live with appearing on my blog, since this is the only photo that I have where you can see the structure as a whole.

He was really in a good mood that day and I am happy that he could enjoy visiting the gardens, too, since usually he is not into gardening at all. I am grateful that he is almost always willing to visit a public garden with me in which I am interested in. He is truly a good sport.

I love how the climbing plant is conquering the wooden structure and the chartreuse green plantings in the containers give such a nice contrast.

Here we are inside the wooden structure looking to one end where the use of the same urns that we saw outside already is repeated. I assume that they will plant something in the containers soon.

One last closer look. I would love to know if by now the have planted something in the containers and if so what they have chosen. Maybe any British readers or other visitors of Arundel Castle can satisfy my curiosity?

Just as a side note, on Thanksgiving we saw the movie "The Madness of King George". Arundel Castle was used to pretend to be Windsor Castle. Very good movie by the way, even though it tweaks history a little bit. If you want to see more of the Castle and like to watch a good movie I highly would recommend this one. 

If you want to see other parts of the Arundel Castle grounds tour, please click on the following links:

Part I (the formal rose garden) click here
Part II (the Chapel Garden and the Fitzalan Chapel) click here

See you in the garden!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Arundel Castle, England, Part II

Continuing my tour through the grounds of Arundel Castle, England (if you want to see the first post about this Castle and its gardens click here) , today I take you to the Chapel Garden and inside the Castle Chapel itself.

(you can click on the photos to enlarge)

But before we go there I would like to share some facts about the Castle with you. Arundel Castle belongs to the dukes of Norfolk for many generations.  Even though the Castle has an medieval appearance and the earliest structure, the keep, was build in the 11th century, most of Arundel Castle was destroyed in the English Civil War. What you see today is the result of an intensive reconstruction process undertaken by the eighth, eleventh, and fifteenth duke of Norfolk between 1718 and 1900. Interestingly, the current duke still lives in a spacious residence in part of the Castle. Arundel Castle is mainly famous for the atmospheric keep, the Great Hall and the library, which has paintings by Gainsborough, Holbein and Van Dyck. In my opinion the Castle and the Castle Gardens are well worth a visit, even though be prepared to pay a steep entry fee!

On the way to the Chapel Garden we passed this impressive and beautiful gate.

We now have entered the garden belonging to the Fitzalan Chapel, which houses the tombs of past dukes of Norfolk. The garden was clearly beyond its prime in terms of the blooming time, but to me appeared still very pretty in its lush greenness. I was surprised to see that they planted this row of palms here. They looked like my Mexican Fan Palm to me but I might be wrong. Anyway, I liked the almost Mediterranean style of planting quite a bit. To me it also brought some kind of lightness and almost playfulness to the heavy gray stones of the Chapel and the adjacent building, which was a nice contrast.

The bed was framed by a neatly clipped boxwood hedge. I really like the wooden obelisk painted in an unobtrusive blue-gray color with what I believe is a 'Climbing Iceberg' rose growing through it.

Close-up of the white rose. I just love the lightness, airiness, and elegance that white roses are giving to a space.

There was a second blue-gray obelisk, planted with what I believe is a 'Climbing Iceberg' rose closer to the Chapel itself. When the allium was in bloom it must have been a quite lovely color combination. The euphorbia in the front goes also very nicely with this arrangement. In the background you see the beautiful old wall of the Chapel.

One last shot of the white rose. I never can get enough of them.

Looking back from the stairs leading up to the Chapel down on the same bed. In the background on the right you can see parts of Arundel Castle.

We are now inside the fourteenth century Fitzalan Chapel and the photo above shows the colorful, intriguing glass window behind the main altar.

This tomb I found particular impressive.  It shows the two effigies of the seventh duke. The top portrays him as he died in his full armor and the bottom sculpture as an emaciated corpse. To me there is a certain humbleness in the way this tomb is designed: In the face of death even a duke is no way different from any other common person, but that might be just my interpretation.

After we left the Chapel I went over to the other side of the garden to get a shot of the whole bed that I have already shown you in the photos above. As you can see this garden area is quite small and therefore hard to photograph. On the opposite side of the "Palm Bed", visible in the foreground of this photo there was a symmetrical design of more boxwood hedge framed beds. In this garden the strict formality of the beds was a perfect fit to the surrounding architecture. 

Then I went back over to the other side and turned around and this is what you saw. This building was located directly adjacent to the Chapel, but if I remember correctly was not part of the Chapel itself. Again, I love the palm trees, the ivy climbing up the ancient walls and the boxwood clipped into neat low hedges framing the beds.

If you looked to the left you see that the bed in the center, which contained a small pond if I remember correctly is surrounded by two boxwood framed beds to the left...

...which are matched by two of the same shaped beds to the right. All four outer beds were planted on the inside with cosmos, which looked a little bit puny. Maybe they were just freshly planted. To me it is relieving that even in a very well cared for garden not everything turns out to be perfect.

After this we are off to see more gardens belonging to the Arundel Castle grounds. But this is material for another post...

See you in the garden!


Monday, November 14, 2011

Arundel Castle, England, Part I

As my own garden is winding down and looking pitiful in parts due to autumn and the rains that we got lately, I was looking at photos from our trip to England in June this year to cheer me up with the sight of beautiful gardens, plants and, of course, roses. So I thought I might share some pictures from England with you here on my blog, again. Maybe you are also longing for some color and spring-ish garden scenery, which might be more likely for my readers in the northern hemisphere than for those in the southern hemisphere, where you have you own spring right now. Still I hope that everyone reading this post will enjoy the photos from England. 

Today I would like to take you on a tour of the grounds of Arundel Castle located in West Sussex. The Castle is famous for many things but not necessarily for the gardens. I loved the gardens and come to think of it I have to say it certainly was one of my favorite public gardens that we visited on that trip. 

(you can click on the photos to enlarge)

You were entering the sight through this old gate at the bottom of the property. I was already smitten by the charm of these old outbuildings.

After passing through the gate you had to walk up a winding small road to get to the Castle's entrance or to the gardens. The Castle itself is sitting on top of a hill and is of a giant size, which unfortunately I was not able to capture to the full extend on my photos.

This photo is more true to how Arundel Castle really looked walking up that road. The mere size of the Castle is just mind boggling. You literally had to look up to the towering building above you and couldn't help but to feel small and insignificant in contrast to the huge Castle. I guess, this is an effect that was desired by the architect and he more than succeeded.

Below the Castle to the left side the first cultivated garden that you came across was a formal rose garden planted with mostly older rose varieties. I liked the layout and the planting scheme quite a bit even though I would never choose a formal rose garden design for my own humble garden at home. I love the neatly clipped boxwood hedges, the towering obelisks conquered by climbing roses, the silvery leaved standard trees and, of course, the roses themselves.

Parts of the outer beds were planted with white Rugosa roses. Hard to beat in their beauty, aren't they?

There was a wired bug that I had never seen before on a leave of this rose.

The flowers of the white Rugosa roses were so pure! They seem to be irresistible to me. Too bad that I can not grow Rugosas in my own garden in San Diego. I tried with 'Purple Pavement', but it simply hated the alkaline soil and water that we are having and is long gone to a better home. 

I liked that the paths were topped with a layer of gray/white gravel, which I preferred over grass paths. Unfortunately there were no or almost no labels on the roses. So a visitor only could guess what their names might be.

Altogether I loved the varieties of roses that they had chosen for this garden even though some of them did not look too happy. Maybe the roses planted in the middle beds are still relatively new? Or they are simply not suited that well for this climate?

Having a closer look at the hedging of the beds and the lower plantings. I like that you hardly could see the ground in the flower beds.

Close-up of one of the plants in the bed of the photo above. It shows an almost white hardy geranium. I really like these plants, since they look good even when they are not in bloom, because the leaves are so pretty. Must make a note to myself to get more hardy geraniums for my own garden. So far I only have one and that is definitively not enough.

The big green hedge in the background provides such a calm and soothing effect for the garden. When the roses are more in flower it will be the perfect backdrop to show off the beautiful blooms.

I am almost a hundred percent positive that this rose is 'Mme. Isaac Pereire', one of my all time favorite Bourbon roses. The fragrance is to die for. When I look at the photo I still remember bending down to this particular flower and inhaling the incredible fragrance. What a treat for the senses!

Another bloom of the rose that I believe to be 'Mme. Isaac Pereire' bathing in the sun. Simply gorgeous!

And one more shot of the same rose. I just adore the plump round buds and the sumptuous blooms.

Seeing the formal beds from a different angle.

A photo of one of the climbing roses growing on an obelisks with the castle in the background. Would love to know what variety this is...

Before we walked away to explore the other areas of this grand garden one last look back to the formal rose beds. Picture perfect, don't you think?

See you in the garden!


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Got More Blue?

Last weekend I went to the nursery to buy two more hardy geraniums 'Rozanne'. But unfortunately they were sold out. But of course I couldn't leave the nursery without buying any kind of plant, that would be really not me. So this is what I got:

(you can click on the photos to enlarge)

The plants with the small white flowers are verbena hybrids. This particular variety is called 'Aztec White Improved'. Since they are white and I love the color white, I simply couldn't pass them up. The blue flowering plants are called Laguna 'Compact Blue With Eye', lobelia erinus. They are a type of lobelias that I haven't seen so far. The blooms are decidedly bigger than the regular lobelia flowers and they have a distinct white eye, as the name says. Aren't they pretty? Last but not least I got two lavandula pinnata 'Buchii', a fern leaf lavender.

I couldn't find any time to garden in the week, but yesterday I rushed out when the sun was shining for a moment in the late afternoon and got to work. Inspired by a couple of my favorite blogs I decided I want to plant some containers to bring more color in the autumn garden. So I went into the garage and found two more of my beloved blue glazed terracotta containers and planted a combo of the white verbena, the blue lobelia, and the fern leaf lavender into each pot. I really like that the lavenders give some height and movement to the containers with their long flower spikes. In January this year I started to put blue spheres and blue containers into the front yard already (click here if you want to see the post about it) and I really love the blue splashes of color that those added to the garden, so I am ready for more.

One of the newly planted containers went into the front yard to beautify the walkway to the house close by the front door. It is keeping another blue container company, which has exactly the same shape, but is of a little bit bigger size. The bigger blue container I planted with the Miniature rose 'Sweet Chariot' a couple of weeks ago, already. The Miniature rose is doing quite well and is growing nicely, but unfortunately is not blooming anymore. Its mauve/purple colored flowered would have given a nice contrast to the blue and white of the other plants and the blue containers.

My husband shot this close-up of the lavender flowers. Sometimes I feel when I am looking at a close-up like this one I see a new plant. The little flowers are perfectly build and are growing so symmetrical on the little flower stalks. Mother nature never fails to amaze me!

The second blue container went also in the front yard on top of the small post of the low wall that we have there, right when you enter the walkway to the house. I think of this container as a welcome sign put up to greet any visitor that comes to our house!

I found these blue feet in the garage and think the container looks better with them underneath. Somehow they add more interest to it and "loosen up the picture" a little bit. Unfortunately the blue glaze is chipped off in some parts, but in the photo it is not so obvious. Still I have to see if I can find some replacements. 

When I looked at the freshly planted containers I noticed that I unconsciously have chosen quite spring-ish looking plants. Do you think I am in autumn denial? Hmm, maybe... I just hope, that these plants will continue to flower in the low autumn and winter light.

See you in the garden!