Furzelea, a fantastic fusion of flora.

It is always a delight to find a garden gate open for the National Garden Scheme on a Wednesday. So on my way to pick up some items for my own garden from Lime Avenue Antiques https://limeavenueantiques.co.uk/ I called into Furzelea at Danbury near Chelmsford in Essex.

As I entered the enforced one way system my eye is drawn to the beautifully trimmed bay leaf, and already in my mind I have re-shaped my dull specimen at home.

Weather-wise it was not really a day for garden visiting but the good thing about the ticketing system is that you have already purchased the ticket so you might as well go. And I was so pleased that I did.

It is a joy to come across a plant that I am unfamiliar with, and there it is at the beginning of my visit, Acacia baileyana Purpurea; sadly my camera skills did not do justice to the silvery purple feathery leaves.

We are directed to the east side of the house, where dainty diascia mingles amongst the rosemary and tulbaghia around the foot of the wall.

Opposite, through the arch, we are drawn to the gap in the hedge which has the effect of extending the path until you realise it is a mirror cleverly placed in the ivy.

It is such a good idea to have the productive part of the garden so close to the house and not far down at the bottom of the garden. Just imagine nipping out to pick a lemon for your g & t before munching your way through a little something with fresh cucumbers, followed by bowlfuls of raspberries.

The path meanders away from the greenhouse down through

such a pretty palette of pinks and purples.

You can take an alternative route down the steps from the terrace by the house through the arch to the lawn,

where curvaceous edges guide you onwards with such rhythm and movement, swirling you around well-planted beds and wonderful shapes.

You can trample the camomile steps down to the little pond or continue round on the lawn,

where you can admire the Angels’ fishing rods Dierama pulcherrimum, dangling daintily over the water.

An arch of golden hop with its shaggy boot of ornamental grass Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ makes an entrance to the narrow path made from nut shells collected from the two copper beech trees in the drive.

Roger and Avril have lived here for nearly forty years and it is so hard to believe that this spacious area was once an unkempt field where their daughters’ ponies grazed. Tucked away down in the left hand corner the clipped topiary twirls highlight

a fine thatched summer house which provides the perfect place to sit. I wonder if Roger and Avril ever find time to sit in this plant-packed garden; they employed no help doing all the work themselves.

This area is so cleverly divided; an island bed with a purpose and a magnificent array of planting.

The plant combinations in this garden are a noticeable feature and they are superb. Behind us in this long border there is a blend of yellows not just in flower but also in leaf.

The garden also opens earlier in June for the display of roses and as I walk back up towards the house I can imagine how lovely this arch must have looked.

On this dreary day there has been no shortage of colour, a haze of rich burgundy from the cornflower which have happily self-seeded in this part of the garden,

and the roses may be over but the clematis are clambering for attention; either softly adorning a pergola,

growing through the metal support at the back of the border,

or simply scrambling through the wisteria against the house.

Before we leave we make a final visit to the pond where we are reminded that it does rain in the east,

and from the terrace situated by the back door there is a misty view over the garden.

Government guidelines have put the serving of refreshments on hold. So, never wishing to leave a garden empty handed I turn to Roger’s plant supports which he has been making in aid of the National Garden Scheme, this year he has raised an incredible £900. Well, you never have enough supports.

You can visit Furzelea this coming Sunday and it is so easy to purchase a ticket: https://ngs.org.uk/shop/garden-tickets/east/essex-furzelea-sunday-12th-july/


Batteleys Cottage; ponds, paths and plenty of places to sit.

It is a glorious time of year for garden visiting, however I fear many of us this afternoon will be staying at home to watch the Wimbledon finals. So I am going to take you around Batteleys Cottage Garden which I very much enjoyed last Sunday when it was open for the National Garden Scheme.

Situated in the village of Wortham on the Norfolk/Suffolk border I parked on the sandy heathland and walked up the drive admiring first the charming little corner on the right,

and then decorative bicycle propped against the wall on the left.

Like so many of the gardens open for the scheme, this is privately owned, created by the owners and has a delightful element of surprise when you enter. Stepping onto the lawn to the right of the cottage you are drawn in by this intriguing centrepiece.

The neatly mown lawn (no worn Wimbledon patches here), is surrounded by borders packed with plants; a perfect place to pause awhile and take in the beautiful surroundings.

Across the way bursting out of the perennials, is an explosion of soft blue delphiniums.

It is not just the colour of these borders that is so attractive, but the texture, the rhythm and the movement. It is hard to believe that not that long ago the area was a mass of blackthorn and bramble and not a single herbaceous plant to be seen.

When Andy and Linda began to work on the garden some seven years ago they had to clear 30 huge Leylandii from the boundary. Now a gravel path winds around the perimeter allowing views across the neighbouring fields and letting in light onto the roses cascading around the arches.

The garden is seamlessly divided into different spaces; from the more formal area closer to the house,

through to a wilder area further away, creating a different atmosphere and making the whole one acre garden feel much larger.

This simple map explains the outline but does not show the tremendous impact of the rich planting.

In the centre of the garden is the summer house looking out on to a delightful pond,

an area not only perfect for wildlife but also a place where winged sculptures gracefully fly.

Andy and Linda have no help in the garden each working on average two full days a week. They do however find time to enjoy the results of their labour positioning the many seats around the garden to their best advantage. This elegant seat is set in the long grass in the orchard.

Clematis come into play in every part of the garden, either scrambling with roses against trees,

or climbing up well positioned obelisks,

this is the handsome, velvety ‘Romantika’ who will flower through to the Autumn.

The mix of light and shade has a soothing quality,

as does the gentle sound of the water flowing in the stream.

Around every corner there is something different,

sunny, characterful and almost quirky.

There are two areas for vegetables and it is a delight to see this potager sited conveniently right outside the back door.

Linda has a family link with India and it was on a trip there that she was able to purchase this stone plinth.

Returning to the lawn in front of the house I find this bewitching couple emerging gently from the mixed planting.

Inevitably I succumb to the delicious tea and apricot cake, and it is from the colourful patio outside the sun room that I can really take in the splendour of this beautiful garden.

The garden will be open next year, perhaps at a slightly earlier time so don’t miss it: https://www.ngs.org.uk/find-a-garden/garden/29923/

And whether you are punting for the Edelweiss or the Lily-of-the-Valley I hope you enjoy the match.