Following on from my last post, after a quick snack at the Blue Vinney pub near to the Sculpture by the Lakes, we crossed to the north of Dorset to visit the garden, Chiffchaffs.  We had visited this garden  a long time ago, but as it has a woodland with shrubs flowering now, it seemed the perfect opportunity. Around the house is a lovely cottage garden which was started in 1978 by Mr. and Mrs. K. Potts . This garden is an affiliated garden to the RHS, members get in free.  There was a coach load of people enjoying the flowers while we were there, but the garden was large enough to absorb us all.

Chiff Chaffs


This lovely abutilon was causing some comment amongst the people from the coach, some thought is was a mock orange blossom, others said it didn’t have any perfume, they were quite loud in their discussion, what do you do in these situations? Do you tell them and admit that you have been eavesdropping, or walk away, I’ve done both in my time & still don’t know what is best.

Shady side

I found this really beautiful planting round the shady side of the house, having so much shade myself, I’m automatically drawn to it. Fabulous hostas.

Side planting

The continuation of the shady bed, lovely cottage planting before walking up the slope to the woodland


The bluebells were still flowering just inside the entrance to the wood. When the Potts arrived here in 1978, the present woodland was an alder copse with lots of underground springs making everywhere very soggy.


Lots of Camellias were still flowering.


There were quite a number of Pieris still looking good.

Woodland walk

There were lots of zig-zagging paths, each one gave you a view of colour. The Rhododendrons and Azaleas were so huge, I mustn’t let mine get this big otherwise we wouldn’t be able to walk in our little wood.

White rhododendron

I thought this white rhododendron was absolutely stunning, so perfect.

Long view

The perfume from Rhododendron luteum, in the centre, was amazing, it reached me before I saw it and lingered long after we had passed it.

Gunnera manicata

Gunnera telling us that we had reached a boggy bit. These fantastic umbrellas weren’t needed that day, it was hot and sunny all day!

More rhodos

More rhodos, everywhere we turned.


There were also lots of Magnolias still in flower, such beautiful blooms.

Boggy area

Another boggy area, this was almost  at the bottom of the slope under the woodland, so all the water must collect here.


On our way back to the car we were directed to some new streamside planting with a waterfall and at the very bottom, I spied some blue, my favourite meconopsis!


What a lovely plant to end on, they are such a fantastic blue aren’t they! Time now to wend our way home before going out again in the evening for a lovely meal.  What a fantastic day I had, one that I will remember for ever!



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22 Responses to Chiffchaffs.

  1. Christina says:

    I’m so glad you had such a lovely day to celebrate your birthday. I hope my last comments arrived, we have been away with very intermitant internet access. I find it so hard to believe that spring is still happening in the UK when here it is now high summer. Again my very best wishes for your birthday and the whole year! Christina

    • Pauline says:

      The garden rounded off a fantastic day Christina, one to remember! Yes your last comment arrived safely, thank you. Spring is just starting to give way to summer, rose, iris, poppy and peony buds are swelling and starting to open at last. We have had a really good, hot week and it has made such a difference. Thank you so much Christina for your good wishes, I really appreciate them.

  2. Cathy says:

    Yes, Pauline, you really were spoiled with the sculptures and then this garden too, not to mention your lunch and evening meal – oh, and lovely weather too! (We visited the Lost Gardens of Heligan on my 50th birthday, but December is never going to be a brilliant time for gardens!). Lots of interest at Chiffchaffs – I must have read an article or something about this garden because the name rang a bell. The last photo with the meconopsis shows just how stunning they are – I just have one seedling left from the handful that germinated… 🙁

    • Pauline says:

      Cathy, you will have to be like the Queen and have an official birthday at another time of year! I certainly was spoiled, lunch was a quick baguette, then it was on to Chiffchaffs which I knew would be looking good at this time of year. The garden has been in lots of magazines in its time and is quite well known but I think Mr. Potts is on his own now and he must be 4 score years at least! The meconopsis were beautiful, but then you know how I love them! Sorry to hear about your seedlings, why do you think they haven’t succeeded, did you buy seed or save it from a plant that you had grown?

  3. pbmgarden says:

    Another lovely garden Pauline. I only just learned about abutilon last fall and must go out this week to look for the same one I saw then. Susie

    • Pauline says:

      The abutilon was magnificent, the flowers were quite large and the shrub was covered with them. I don’t think it would like my soil here somehow, I will just have to look at photos of yours when you get one!

  4. Helen says:

    Many happy returns from me as well, a little late, what a treat visiting two gardens on your birthday, topping it off with the lovely meconopsis. I shall be looking forward to seeing your barn owl, the one in your photo was definitely my favourite sculpture.

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you so much Helen, I’m so lucky to have had two such lovely places to visit and yes, the meconopsis were the icing on the cake! I’ll have to try carving the barn owl now that I’ve mentioned it won’t I, no pressure then, maybe in the winter when there’s not so much gardening to do.

  5. Alberto says:

    I’m glad you had a proper celebration for your birthday. I like this garden and that huge scented yellow azalea must have been stunning! I’ve never smelled one, I wonder how they scent like.

    • Pauline says:

      All together it was a wonderful day Alberto, one that I will never forget! The yellow azalea did have a fantastic perfume, but perfume is very difficult to describe, maybe similar to Lilium regale with citrus overtones!

  6. Belated Happy Birthday to you Pauline 🙂

    What a beautiful garden you visited. I’d love to know how they managed to have nibble free Hostas like that…amazing!

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you Paula, it was a lovely garden, I knew it would look good at this time of year. I think they have lots of birds in the garden just like we do here, blackbirds and thrushes, that just love to eat slugs and snails, and therefore their hostas are hole free!

  7. Gitte says:

    What a lovely spot to celebrate your birthday. I can imagine the perfume from the luteums. The meconopsis have a truly amazing colour.
    I hope you will have more years to enjoy your garden, and other gardens too.

    • Pauline says:

      The perfume was fantastic Gitte, you could smell it from a long way from it. Meconopsis are one of my favourite flowers, the blue is such a fantastic colour, I love it!
      Thank you so much for your good wishes, I hope to enjoy lots more gardens too!

  8. Anna says:

    Oh lucky you. Have read about this garden over the years Pauline and would love to visit. To me eavesdropping implies that you are straining to hear somebody else’s conversation but if other people are talking loudly I would have no hesitation in joining in the conversation 🙂

    • Pauline says:

      It is a lovely cottage garden Anna, near to the house. Mr. Potts must now be in his 80’s and I think he is now on his own, the garden seemed to be missing the woman’s touch. I’ve tried joining in conversations with people when they have been talking incorrectly about plants, sometimes they don’t appreciate it!

  9. What a lovely place to visit, so many good ideas. Love the gunnera and hostas, the rhodos etc remind me of Westonbirt, their collection is amazing and the surrounding mature trees balance their blousy nature perfectly. I really must try mecanopsis in my own damp shady patch.

    • Pauline says:

      Janet, I really must visit Westonbirt in the spring, we only ever seem to go in the autumn for the wonderful colours. The rhodos do look good surrounded by huge trees, this was the perfect setting for them. Having so much shade here, I’m drawn to any shady planting that I see, to seek inspiration. the hostas were fantastic, huge and not a hole to be seen.

  10. Wendy says:

    I’m glad you had such a wonderful day. I’m sure I would enjoy the woodland walk at Chiffchaffs, too, from your lovely photos . And the meconopsis, with that beautiful blue colour, are stunning.

    • Pauline says:

      It was a super day Wendy, one that I will remember for ever! The woodland walk was lovely, the birdsong amazing and the weather couldn’t have been better, to finish with the meconopsis was the icing on the cake!

  11. annie_h says:

    A lovely garden tour ending on one of my favourites as well, the vivid blue poppies. Am catching up with blogs so I’ll also catch up on your other garden visits. Glad you had a good birthday break. With fabulous weather too, very lucky.

    • Pauline says:

      Annie, it was a lovely day and the weather couldn’t have been better, thank you. So glad the blue poppies are a favourite of yours as well, they really were stunning.

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