WP_20160714_15_36_50_ProJuly in the Garden- by volunteer Sue Prutton

‘Yesterday was an oh so special day for me in that while I was wandering round the garden without a tour (the school summer holidays have begun and the customer-base has changed) I was overwhelmed with a wave of nostalgia. That perfume, redolent of romantic holidays in France, really took me back some 25 years …. and all because the lime trees were in blossom. I just stood still and invited anyone and everyone who passed me on their way to the Walled Garden to pause and enjoy it. One or two could not appreciate the perfume as for some scientific reason they were unable take it on board – similar to my late husband who could never smell my favourite freesias – but by and large the universal enjoyment provided by these small flowers really made my day.

The Walled Garden continues to be a source of amazement to our visitors – some have never seen it before but increasingly we have those who are returning to see the progress being made. A few weeks ago I noticed a “Walled Garden Salad” on offer in The Stables and now outside the restaurant door there is a list of the varied produce items which have made the rapid journey from the garden to the plate and are available each day. Surplus produce is regularly on sale from a table just inside the garden doorway and last weekend I was able to enjoy broad beans the way I like them – young and tender, rather than the larger, coarser version the supermarkets offer. I see that runner beans are coming on too, so I hope to be able to indulge in some of those soon.

On the far side of the garden, beyond the second greenhouse, the whole bed alongside the wall is devoted to dahlias. An excellent show is getting underway and is well worth investigating as it is not immediately visible from the entrance. So much has been achieved in less than two years but there is a great deal more still to come in the shape of the apple and pear trees now in place and which are destined to line the paths. It is lovely to see the visitors as they enjoy wandering up and down, their attention drawn to several varieties of lettuce, the chard and beetroot area, the courgettes and squash plants, the soft fruits and the many flowering plants. The new bothy is well used as it is quite a walk to and from the old one beside the double borders. As well as secure lockers for valuables there is a microwave and a dishwasher (no more excuses for grimy mugs, mercifully) and also a substantial set of tables and chairs so that the room could double up for meetings and similar. Back in the main garden a great deal of hard work is under way to re-take control of the boundary hedges in the ha-ha.

Elsewhere everything is at full peak blossom-wise. Five Tuesday evenings were set aside at the end of June and the start of July for “late night opening” when it was hoped that, weather permitting, families would bring picnics and enjoy a peaceful end to the working day. The weather did not always cooperate but on the evenings that it did, particularly on the final one which came at the end of an extremely hot day, it was lovely to see friends and families kick off their shoes, lounge in our deckchairs (we could do with a few more) and sip something cool and bubbly.

I had to smile a few weeks ago: in spite of the huge lake at their disposal I came across a pair of ducks giving their five well-grown offspring a swimming lesson in the Shell Fountain. I stood and watched as they calmly climbed out and waddled off back to the far larger “pool” which is always available for them. They had come on quite a stroll for their swimming lesson!’