Saturday, 12 July 2014

Open Gardens

The gardens at a village two miles north west of the town where we live were open on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th June as part of the National Gardens Scheme.  Thousands of gardens throughout England and Wales open their gates each year in order to raise money for nursing and caring charities.  Many of these gardens are not normally open to the public.  Keen to get ideas for our amateur efforts at the Old Rectory, S and I went along.

The first thing that caught my eye was the old telephone box.  If you look closely, you will see that it is no longer used for making telephone calls - well, surely everyone has a mobile phone now - but rather it is the village lending library.  This appeals to me enormously as an ex-librarian.  You can take the girl out of the library but you can't take the library out of the girl, so there are few things that warm my heart more than a shelf of books.  And such a brilliant way to save that old red phone box.

In the first garden that we visited, we were transfixed by the screening off of the working area, fascinating creatures that we are.  I am currently a student of Monty Don, English television presenter, writer and speaker on horticulture, having now read two of his books and currently slowly working my way through The Ivington Diaries inbetween reading novels.  This is the story of his own garden near Hereford, on the border with Wales.  I am currently boring everyone to death by quoting Monty all the time - Monty says that you should restrict the roots of the fig tree so that it fruits, Monty says that the hostas are stressed in pots and should be planted out in the soil, which will make them more resistant to disease, Monty says that mushroom compost is the best...and so on.  Well, Monty also says that every garden should have a work hub with compost bins, areas to mix compost, store wheel barrows and so on.  We must obviously create one and I'd like it to be next to the gardening shed and screened off, rather like the one in the picture below.

View from the Back..
...And View from the Front
Other ideas gleaned from this garden were this rockery below.  Which gave me heart that even S and I can have a go at laying a wall like this, bearing in mind that we currently have piles of stones strewn around the garden, the remnants of the fallen wall.

We liked the look of this shrub but don't know what it is.  Some kind of viburnum perhaps...?

The third garden that we visited was truly magical.  On a slope at the edge of the village with a wonderful view across the Wiltshire countryside, you enter through a rose covered arch.

There was a shaded area to the left with a pond and watching statue standing by.

At the bottom of the slope was another rather larger pond with a boathouse and a rowing boat.  Even though it was a pond, not a lake and, therefore, not a very large expanse of water in which to row a boat, it was very romantic.  The thought of lolling about reading in the gently rocking boat on a sunny day was very appealing.  Or sipping an evening glass of prosecco whilst leaning on the balcony waiting for the barbecue to cook.

In the next garden, we were impressed by this apple tree through which a rose had been growing for the past thirty years.  It was a mass of white and smelt glorious.  The owner of the garden walked around with us.  I envied his retirement and he redressed that envy by telling us about his dementia, how he could no longer remember how to drive and, with no bus service to this village, had lost his independence and was reliant on his wife.  We asked him the name of a plant in the garden and he said that the ability to recall such things was long gone.  It was a dark cloud during a pleasant day and we left his side feeling rather more subdued.

The next house on the itinerary was not simply a house but rather the Hall, the stables of which have a very French feel, I think.  They give me the sense of being in Normandy, rather than Wiltshire.

Although not all of the grounds were open and, sadly, not the wonderful orangerie, which I have visited in the past, visitors were welcome to go into the walled kitchen garden.  I do like a kitchen garden.  I love to see rows of vegetables and to admire fruit bushes.  In a lean-to greenhouse, they were growing almonds and peaches.  In the garden itself, I was much taken with the idea of arches of apple trees.

And swathes of Nigella, love-in-a-mist.  More romance.

This reminds me that, as we have started planting up some of our beds, we have discovered that one plant is not enough so I have started buying three of everything.  Except now that I stand back and look at the bed by the gate, I'm starting to think that three isn't enough so might up that number to five.  At least.

Anyhow, some ideas gained.  Some charitable giving.  And some rather nice blueberry cake and a cup of tea.  A grand day out.

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