Saturday 19 March 2016

Thank you Marianne Majerus

Her pictures of Bolton Percy Cemetery

It is not often that a famous lady, many times Photographer of the Year, visits your garden. Twenty years ago Marianne spent a whole weekend in Bolton Percy. You can see all of the pictures she took if you visit her website. What a thrill it was to see her fantastic photograph of the cemetery garden as a double page spread in the Sunday Express colour supplement!

This is the second of my series Every Picture Tells a Story which highlight each of four pictures of Bolton Percy cemetery that hang on our wall.
I contacted Marianne via her Facebook page when she accepted my offer of befriendment. I asked her whether I might picture my picture of her picture - my original acetate. She could do better than that and sent me a ‘light box’ to choose several originals with permission to publish. They are of course copyright and must not be reproduced.

Her visit was a thrilling experience. What a lovely lady and I have very happy memories of her stay. So focussed - she was up at six in the morning to capture the optimum light, she spent many hours taking photos. Marianne, we really enjoyed your company.

The first picture today is very similar to the one on our wall. It looks down the cemetery to the hedge at the bottom before visitors turn right and then left  to view round the corner. It features wonderful Geranium macrorhizum that without any help completely suppresses any seedling weed. Not only does the geranium enthusiastically spread vegetatively it also sometimes self sows a few seeds. As a result of seedling variability I have several gorgeous different pink shades.
An unremarkable but steady performer, the yellow green spikes of Heuchera ‘Green Finch’ has graced the garden for the last forty years.
The ubiquitous variegated honesty is there on the left. 
Right at the back in front of the dark yew is the green variegated umbellifer called Alexanders. This used to thrill me when it self seeded each year. Less so after walking in East Anglia where it grew all over as a weed in the fields!

I used to use this slide in my lectures to illustrate the beauty of stone in a garden. In an old cemetery there is no need for any extra ’hard landscape’. Solomon’s Seal is a good plant for drought. Bolton Percy is a dry place and their are plenty of dehydrating trees.
The very handsome veratrum came from a former employer!  Marianne has captured the beauty of the stone and the exquisite balance of the ‘Green Finch’ flowers with those of the Solomon’s Seal.

The santolina had been recently pruned. Its blue glaucousness merges well with the stone. 
Although the picture does not show it, the somewhat tender Lavatera ‘Barnsley’ backs on to a protective south facing wall. This tender shrub survived with annual March pruning for thirty years before its demise. We must plant it again! Regular readers will know that I now have a wonderful team of helpers. The cemetery has never looked so tidy. I call them the ‘C’ team.
The golden foliage is Spiraea ‘Gold Flame’. It is pruned back hard every second year to rejuvenate and keep strong.
When I lived in Bolton Percy my maintenance was about an hour every week of the year. It was more intimate then than is now possible with my now monthly visit. The white wild  garlic (pictured below) has got out of hand in the last twenty years!

The dark green rugose leaves around the well-preserved tombstone are those of Stachys macrantha. I was surprised on my very first open day how much it was admired before any sign of the later lovely spikes of purple flowers. The orange flowers of Helianthemum ‘Henfield Brilliant’ are gorgeous when they open in the sunshine. No longer there in the cemetery it still thrives in my own garden. I must remember in Autumn to stick in some bundles of new cuttings.

It’s embarrassing when I cannot remember what I have previously planted. I don’t recognise the fine leaved plant that looks like fennel nor the red flower that looks like a dahlia! Perhaps you have a suggestion? 
You might have noticed by now that I am rather fond of the intensely orange Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’. Not only is it strong and reliable, it makes a nice green rounded dome after flowering and remains so for the rest of the Summer until in the Autumn it turns a warm Autumn yellow.
You might notice the golden box plant which I seem to remember is Buxus sempervirens suffruticosa. It’s much bigger now and I prune it as lightly as I am able when using my hedge trimmer. I refuse to make round topiary balloons.
It does take some effort not to allow the Pheasant’s Eye grass to take over. The yellow bog iris thrives with the poor Winter drainage (Nineteenth century farmers did not give their best land when churches needed to expand their over flowing churchyards).

The Rosa ‘Nevada’ was raised from rooted cuttings. Twenty years ago it was surviving  and thriving despite the extending shadow of the fast growing Leyland cypress - off  picture - that twenty years earlier, for my sins, I had personally rooted and planted. The rose is now in severe decline but the rose’s revival is promised as the forty foot high Leyland is about to be chopped down!
The lovely Abutilon vitifolium is sadly short lived but if I am sufficiently observant young seedlings take on the mantle. The grand daughter of this fine plant has in 2016 just passed away.

Once again thank you Marianne for your lovely pictures. I dared not ask for any more but if readers would like to admire further photographs they can go to her website and insert ‘Bolton Percy’ in the search box and find forty five.

This is my first post in this series.
This is my report on the work of the C team!


  1. I mean to visit one day but so far haven't managed it - when is the time to see it at its best?

  2. I was going to ask the self same question as Sue as I have it on my "to visit list" for 2016!

    1. L and Sue,
      It looks good in early June and is always open.
      Alternatively 2 July is the village F├Ęte and medieval day. I will be showing visitors round in the afternoon!
      Or If coming from a distance Sunday 11 Sept is my yellow book open day at Seaton Ross and Bolton Percy is a half hour drive. Make a day of it!

  3. Beautiful cemetery Roger. It is interesting to see what has done well over the years. Of course the photo are gorgeous.

    1. I will do a post one day about this. Alain.There are sometimes subtle differences from year to year and on other occasions dramatic ones!

  4. Beautiful photos – and a very beautiful place, I can see so many plants I appreciate and love here! And it looks like a magical place, what an achievement to take care of such a place for all these years :-)

  5. It is a real credit to you Roger, a photographer can only make beautiful pictures if there is something to photograph in the first place! I will get there one day ............honest!

    1. Easy Rick. Come across to Worsbrough cemetery in June, come up the M1 A1 link/A64 to Bolton Percy and then half hour drive across to Seaton Ross. Bring a friend but let me know when you are coming and there will be coffee and cakes! You can get my e mail from the yellow book, I am opening at Boundary Cottage this year second Sunday in September


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