Archive for October, 2015


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©EC ECHO 2014

Source: Why an ambitious climate deal is key to achieving zero hunger

WP_20151008_12_52_21_ProAfter just a few minutes weeding (in the Orangery Garden once more), Ed (one of the gardeners at Blickling) asked me if I’d like a change of role- to help Peter continue strimming (or ‘Whipper Snipping’ as they say in Australia).

I was easy either way, so went with him to be briefed on the safe use of a rather good strimmer, and to receive my safety mask and ear protectors. So far so good. The cord used in these machines is seriously tough (I think it is a metal cable sheathed in plastic), so will cut through some thick stems if needed.

You  might recall from my previous session that Peter had started to clear alongside the boundary hedge between the gardens and wider estate, some of which is set in the bottom of a ha ha (ditch). The idea was to clear a path alongside this hedge so that it can be easily trimmed. I began a stretch beside the Orangery and was soon impressed with the cutting power of the machine. However, I soon discovered that, strong though it is, the cable cutter was no match for the wire fence alongside the path and so I was left with a short length of cable!

It took a good few minutes to replace this (not before returning it to the workshop and putting the machine in a vice to enable the very short length of cable that remained to be pulled through and replaced).

It had been some time since I’d used a strimmer, but it soon became relatively easy – notwithstanding that the gap I was working in tapered dangerously close to a barbed wire fence (necessitating a diversion) and there were some thick saplings of sycamore and other species that had punched their way up through and alongside the hedge and required pruning off with secateurs. Still, I completed a reasonable stretch before ending for the day. There was also time for a quick look at the double borders, which maintain their floral splendour..

Oh, and just out of interest, the Urban Dictionary refers to Whipper- Snipping somewhat differently:

‘A snippet is a brief quotable passage. People who think in snippets are called ‘whipper-snippers.’

Women have a greater propensity to hear snippets and deduce from them because they have conversational skills that men don’t have and men tend to internalize and think about things differently.

While driving in a car:

Man: Oh! There’s that trading firm. I made millions off of them.

Woman: Williams!? What is that!? Williams!? Williams!? What is that!?!

Man: Williams!? What is Williams!? I said millions, ‘whipper-snipper.’ Where do you get ‘williams’ from ‘millions’ talking about a trading firm!?’

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener

 

Gourd heavens

The Alcobaça game

Source: The Alcobaça game

WP_20150909_12_43_35_ProFollowing our ‘Hebridean Hop’ we went on to stay for a week in Northumberland with 6 old friends, in a house we’d been to before (we rent out a house for a week in different locations every year – this was our sixth consecutive holiday together). It is usually a stay involving (too) much food, drink as well as trips to interesting places and walks on beaches and in the countryside.

On one of the days we travelled south towards Morpeth to a National Trust property I’d wanted to visit for some time- in fact the last time we were here, but for a mistake in reading the road signs, we would have visited then. Anyway, despite a couple of wrong turns this time (including using Satnav) we eventually made it.

Wallington Hall was gifted by Sir Charles Philips Trevelyan, Socialist MP and ‘illogical Englishman’. The Hall features huge pre-Raphaelite paintings around the Central Hall, beautiful furniture, treasured collections and quirky curiosities; and it was great seeing volunteers baking in the kitchens (free samples) and on hand to explain things. I also loved seeing some old letters and newspapers out on display- these added a real sense of time and place to the house. There was also a well crafted exhibition in one room on utopias. My own contribution to the personal ‘visions’ wall?- ‘Globalisation= collective responsibility’

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The 13,000-acre estate was too big to explore in one day, but we made sure to see the hidden walled garden, nestled in the woods.  It was beloved by Lady Mary Trevelyan and remains a beautiful haven whatever the season.  Entering through Neptune’s Gate, you sweep down a stone staircase, by the Mary Pool and soak up the tranquil atmosphere; this is special place for our friends John and Ann, who, along with Richard and Ann, were with us on the day.

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We wandered past colourful borders, which because of its northerly location, gave late summer ‘oomph’, even though it was September when we visited. The planting combinations in the herbaceous borders and further afield in the walled garden, are a triumph. This was once a productive kitchen garden but is no almost entirely ornamental. It slopes gently and a natural stream meanders through it, which creates a wide range of planting and design opportunities. There is also an elevated terrace walkway with a splendid glasshouse to one side, full of tender specimens and beautifully presented.

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This is definitely another of those ‘Garden of Smiles’- almost at every turn there is a feature or planting group that just works.

WP_20150909_12_25_57_ProFurther information: National Trust website

Old School Gardener

What Bloom

Source: What Bloom

Birch and Dogwood

Birch and Dogwood

WP_20150902_16_19_41_ProSo, we are on Arran in the final ‘leg’ of our Hebridean ‘hop’. We decided to visit Brodick Castle, a Scottish National Trust property that overlooks the town and bay of the island’s main setlement.

Brodick is a commercial centre and its good ferry connections to the mainland result in it being a hive of retail and other activity; quite a contrast to the rest of the island and indeed the other parts of our trip- though I suppose it does have some similarities to Oban.

The Scottish N.T. website captures the essence of the Castle:

‘The quintessential Victorian ‘Highland’ estate… Dramatically set against the backdrop of Goatfell mountain, the grand red sandstone Scottish baronial-style castle has stunning views over Brodick Bay to the Firth of Clyde..the W A Nesfield-influenced landscaped gardens … provide an unrivalled experience, from the formal walled garden to the woodland walks. Brodick holds three national collections of rhododendron that flower in almost every month of the year…’

The house was interesting, and boasts many royal connections throughout it’s (and it’s predecessor castles’) history. Today’s Brodick Castle is largely the result of a large-scale expansion of the earlier castle undertaken in the years after 1844. Until this time, the resident family- the Hamiltons- had focused their attentions on their estates on mainland Scotland and especially on Hamilton Palace. But a number of factors came together which made the conversion of Brodick Castle into a grand stately home a viable and desirable option.

Very Baronial...

Very Baronial…

But it was the gardens I came to see, and they didn’t disappoint. The walled garden dates back to at least 1710 (according to a date in the enclosing wall). Further work was undertaken from 1814, but most of today’s gardens date back to the elevation of the castle to a stately home in 1844. The gardens were subsequently a passion of the Hamiltons and especially of the Duchess of Montrose in the years from 1895. Like the Castle, its gardens offer a glimpse into another world and another time. I especailly loved some of the subtle planting combinations in the walled garden…

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Undiscovered Scotland describes the wider park:

‘In the surrounding country park, visitors can follow waymarked routes that extend for a half mile or a mile, or simply find their own way around. For some it is the plants themselves that will form the highlight of the tour. Others will enjoy the ice house under its heavy turf roof….’  

 

The park  provides an interesting route, gently following the hillside towards the sea. There were some delightful ‘cloth art’ installations en route, and it was noticeable that felling and shrub lopping were underway- I guess many of the specimens planted over a hundred years ago are now getting a little too big and drastic action is needed; but replanting is also underway…

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Towards the bottom of the park, nearest the sea, lies the Bavarian summer house; an amazing concoction of natural materials. As Undiscovered Scotland says:

‘A real oddity is offered by the Bavarian Summer House. This has an outer surface imitating tree roots; and the interior is largely lined with pine cones. The end result is impressive, but in a way that is more spooky than simply pleasant, bringing to mind the story of the gingerbread house, or even the more recent fable of the Blair Witch Project.’

Old School Gardener

PicPost: Tormented

Trachyandra tortilis

Trachyandra tortilis

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