Last chance to visit bluebell woods…..

Cold weather has held back the bluebells this year. They are still looking glorious. Last chance to visit Coton Manor tomorrow.  Here’s some photos from our visit today. As usual, we started with a picnic. Spreading our rugs under the branches of some apple trees, we  tucked into home-made bread and warming soup, followed by an array of cakes and shortbread. A great start to our garden visit.


Our little haven can be found at the far end of the car park. Funnily enough, we’d never noticed the orchard before. But full of blossom today, we could hardly miss it. Next we set out to visit the bluebells.

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As you can see, the bluebells are at their peak of perfection. It’s a sight I’ll hold in my memory until next spring. That blue, with the unfurling lime green leaves, and the honey scent. Just glorious!

We found the dogs’ graves. What a peaceful resting place.


The gardens always provide breathtaking planting, deserving of a separate post. But for now, here’s a taster of what we found.  Luckily the wisteria escaped any damage from the recent hard frosts.


I love this view from the terrace steps.

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I wrote about visits to bluebell woods here mentioning Coton Manor  and Hodsock Priory .  For more information click on the highlighted words. Also look at the Woodland Trust website for bluebell woods all over the country.  Be quick to visit. They are at their best right now.

Out of my potting shed to visit – Holme Pierrepont Hall

I’ve spent too much time online looking at snowdrop gardens – and wishing I had a helicopter to whizz me from Scotland to Cornwall.
They are all so tempting. But work, family commitments and lack of funds mean the grand tour will have to wait. 

When a friend told me about a garden that’s practically on my doorstep- Holme Pierrepont Hall, in Nottingham- I hardly had time to grab my coat. I was out of my  pottingshed  like a rocket.

 


Walls and a gazebo in the formal East Garden were built in the 17th century.

The south wall was demolished in the Georgian period to create parkland around the side of the house. The East Garden was abandoned after the First World War, and reclaimed  in the 1970s.


There are some glorious planting combinations. Silver stems of Rubus Golden Vale stand out against the dark yew background, with snowdrops as  groundcover. Everywhere there’s yew and box hedges and topiary.


My favourite view of the house. Dating back to the 1500s, the brickwork is some of the earliest in the county.


There’s some wonderfully gnarled trees in the garden. It’s still very much a family home- as well as a wedding and conference venue. We smiled at the evidence of children everywhere. There were swings in many trees and a home made zip wire in the woods. 


We followed direction arrows through the walled gardens and found these old espalier fruit trees. I love the way they refuse to die. Each one sports  a single vigorous branch.


I can spend any amount of time admiring old garden walls. We mulled over the different courses of bricks. Layers of history with a tale to tell.


The arrows took us to a recently cleared wood.  I decided that following a snowdrop-edged woodland path makes me very happy indeed. 


I took about 100 photos in the wood. It has such a peaceful  atmosphere. Almost like a secret garden. 


We followed the arrows back to the house and wandered through this  doorway, which leads to a pretty enclosed walled courtyard. We bought  tickets for a tour around the house which meant we could look through the windows down onto the parterre. Photos  can’t be taken in the house, which is understandable. It is a family home, after all. But I asked permission to take photos through the windows, which was allowed.


Looking down on the box parterre which is filled with lavender, pulmonaria and spring bulbs. The  boundary wall of the garden, and the house wall have a sort of unusual covered cloister walkway which contained potted camellia plants. 


There’s a good view of the church from the first floor windows.

This stonework being used as a bench looks like it came from the top of a Roman pillar. I wonder…..


We had  another walk round the East Garden before heading for home. This Prunus mume Beni-chidori was looking spectacular underplanted with snowdrops. The scent, reminiscent of fruit salad,  wafts around the whole garden. Quite strong for such a tiny flower.

Holme Pierrepont Hall  is open Sunday, Monday and Tuesdays in February and March 2-5pm. Also Sundays in April -apart from Easter Sunday. There’s a special Shakespeare in the Garden performance  on Thursday 15th June. 
I’m glad I’ve found Holme Pierrepont Hall -especially as it’s only 25 minutes drive from home. It makes me wonder how many other places are right on my doorstep, just waiting to be discovered. Perhaps I don’t need that helicopter after all. 

Have you “found” any gardens right on your doorstep? 

(Click on the highlighted words for more information. They are not affiliate or advertising links. )

#Snowdrop love, at Easton Walled Gardens

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In celebration of Valentine’s Day, I’m sharing my photos of Britain’s most romantic garden renovation project.  Easton Walled Gardens.

There was once a magnificent mansion at the top of this flight of stone steps. The orangery windows looked over the glorious gardens below.

Franklin D Roosevelt, visiting the gardens on his honeymoon tour, described them as “A dream of Nirvana- almost too good to be true.” Sadly, the house  was demolished in 1951 and the gardens slowly abandoned. The gatehouse only survived when the bulldozer broke down. The gardens were lost under brambles and tree saplings.

Strolling around today, there’s a feeling of walking in the footsteps of those who lived and worked there in its heyday.

A stone bridge has been restored and leads to the great yew tunnel- which survived the neglect and abandonment.


Sheets of snowdrops lay dormant under the brambles. Just waiting to bloom again. There’s a fairytale feel to the place.  A Sleeping Beauty garden, lost and re-discovered.


And really, only love could have saved this garden. Ursula Cholmeley,  whose family lived at Easton for 400 years, has poured love, energy, passion, and time into the renovation project.  Work, started in 2001, continues today. And it’s a triumph. The “lost gardens of Easton” have been rescued and revived.


What’s your most romantic garden?  How will you be celebrating Valentine’s Day?

Click on the highlighted words for more information

Easton Walled Gardens   just off the A1 near Grantham in Lincolnshire, is open until 19th February for snowdrops.

Buy Snowdrops from Easton by post

Events calendar
Courses/ workshops at Easton
Sweet peas at Easton

WordlessWednesday. Walled garden doors 

Found at the National Trust’s Calke Abbey. We love the panel sides. Someone took a pride in this job. It’s right next to the Orangery, which dates back to 1777.

 How many gardeners have walked through this doorway into the walled kitchen garden over the past 250  or so years. It’s good to stop and ponder as we close one door on 2016 and think about opening new doors in 2017. 

Day 20 of my #AdventCalendar for gardeners- a visit to Calke Abbey. 

Mossy roofed potting shed in the walled garden at  the national Trust’s Calke Abbey. There’s a tiny bed in there for the garden boy whose job it was to keep the greenhouse boilers stoked. Alison and I have started a tradition to walk the gardens in the week before Christmas, and reflect on what life was like for the gardeners. Then there’s a food fair in the old riding school where we sample local honey, Leicestershire cheese, home made fudge and chocolates- and we stock up for the festive season. It’s rather a wonderful tradition to have started. 



The walled kitchen garden is looking beautifully tidy. The beds are mulched and weeded.  All set for the spring sowing season. Quite a cheerful sight to behold.


It’s nice to find something new in a favourite- much visited garden. This area was being excavated last time we stopped by.  What treasures  were under the mounds of earth, we wondered.  It looks like a boiler for the hypocaust heated wall. Isn’t it amazing it’s still here. And the beautiful  brick floor is still intact.


We mooched in the peach house. I think this blue paint  is my all-time favourite colour. I’d love to paint my potting shed the same hue. It reminds me of the Mediterranean.




We peered through the misty  peach house  windows. In the summer these open right up. There are deckchairs to sit and gaze at the wild flowers and waist high grass.


View of the peach house /orangery  from the church. We spotted these glorious giant white-painted cloches. And coveted them! 


A few ancient espalier  fruit trees  remain in the walled garden. We love their mossy-covered boughs. 


We hadn’t noticed this door in the walled garden before. In summer there’s so much to see. But in winter,  we notice the bare bones of the garden and home in on  wonderful details like this.

We’ve never seen the sheep grazing right to the house before. We like this seasonal change. The sheep set a scene that could easily grace any Christmas card. We just need some snow to complete the picture. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my tour of Calke Abbey and the kitchen gardens. Do you have a garden that you love to visit as often as you can? Do you find new treasures each time you visit? Thanks for stopping by, and please feel free to comment- so I know I’m not just talking to myself.