Tag Archive: national trust


Check out this article about the Walled Garden Project, which is now half way through its project development phase.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blickling-estate/news/a-jewel-in-the-blickling-crown

We were very lucky to have a morning to spare before travelling home from seeing friends in Cheshire, recently. Tatton Park was a half hour drive away, so we headed off. I was eager to see this garden which is a prominent National Trust property (though run by the local Council) and features in the annual round of RHS Flower Shows. I wasn’t disappointed…

Our friends took us straight to the most talked about area here, the Japanese Garden. WOW! It was a delight, especially as the various Maples were newly in leaf. The sun was out and the garden, with its changing levels, water and Japanese feature buildings and monuments, was breathtaking.

After this we had an hour to get round as much of the rest of this beautifully kept estate, including fernery and palm houses, bothy, walled garden, tower garden and wider woodland areas with some superb early Rhododendrons. You could easily spend a day or two here exploring the wider parkland as well as the 50 acres of richly varied gardens…enjoy the pics!

Further information:

National Trust website

Tatton Park website

Old School Gardener

Travelling back from our recent trip to Hull, we stopped off at a National Trust property in Derbyshire, the north midlands- Hardwick Hall. The Hall itself wasn’t open on our visit, but promises to be a fascinating example of high 18th century bling, so a return visit is in store….meanwhile how about the gardens?

After a pleasant lunch, sitting outside in the sunshine, we made our way around the rather splendid house (picking up a brief history from a very helpful guide) and explored the interesting entrance gardens and walled gardens that sit alongside the impressive pile.

The gardens are kept in good condition, as you might expect, and provide a wonderful opportunity to diversify and create areas of interest in what might otherwise seem to be an underdeveloped layout. Certainly the mixed herbaceous borders surrounding the House looked to be firing up for a wonderful summer show, but I was left thinking that more could be made of the walled garden….maybe I’ve been spoiled by my experience of regenerating the Walled Garden at Blickling! However, it was a very pleasant walk and I was very impressed with the various neat and interesting ways of interpreting the gardens and what’s currently of interest…something Blickling could do more of…

We didn’t have time to explore the wider estate, but it would seem to be packed with interesting walks (including a sculpture walk), complete with roaming herds of deer and other animals.

Further information: National Trust website

Old School Gardener

 

We took a mother’s Day trip out to this super National Trust Hall and Farm in Cambridgeshire. I loved the parterre with it’s combinations of Box and Euonymous and the Folly tower with some wonderful skeletal trees…

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wp_20161130_13_30_12_proWhilst in Devon recently we paid a visit to Cotehele House, just over the border in Cornwall. This is a favourite place; granite walls set in an ancient landscape of trees covered in lichen and a terraced garden that looks over the Tamar valley to Calstock and beyond.

The day was sunny after a frosty start and we took a stroll around the wintered grounds where the sounds of gushing water and the smell of wood smoke blended together as the low sun cast fingers of shadow.

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I ventured up the nearby Prospect Tower which was built in the 17th century but whose origins are obscure. After a dark, winding stair climb I emerged into the sun and some wonderful views.

We made our way into the house to find the famous Cotehele Christmas Garland

‘Every November gardeners and volunteers… create a 60ft long Christmas garland using thousands of flowers grown on the estate. The giant swag … hangs in the Great Hall throughout the festive season.

Preparations for the garland begin months earlier in February when the flower seeds are sown. The first flowers are ready for picking from late April and are then dried in the loft over the summer and autumn before the garland is put together over two weeks in November.

Tens of thousands of flowers go into the garland each year. ‘Ideally we’d like 30,000 but some years we get as low as 20,000,’ explains head gardener Dave Bouch. ‘How many we get is completely down to the summer – we need sunny days and low rainfall – that’s the joy of gardening…..’

‘Each year the garland is different, depending on which of the specially grown flowers have done well,’ adds Dave. The garland often includes ornamental grasses, everlasting sand flower, straw flower, paper daisy, paper rose, statice and garden thrift.

Creating the garland is a task which involves team work and Cotehele’s gardeners and volunteers use scaffolding to add flowers into the growing festive display.’ (courtesy National Trust)

This year marks 60 years since the first garland was created…a real example of ‘modern heritage making’…. When the residents of Cotehele first hung a modest, floral, Christmas display in the Tudor Hall six decades ago, little did they know how their simple decoration would turn into the magnificent garland it is today. To make it an extra special celebration, this year the gardeners grew flowers specifically to give it a ‘diamond’ anniversary look:

  • 31,200: number of flowers in the garland

  • 7,920: number of flowers in the swag around the door

  • 120: number of kilograms the garland weighs

Further information: National Trust website

Old School Gardener

 

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On a recent trip to see our friends Dave and Jen in Sussex we stopped off to visit Standen House and Gardens, near to East Grinstead.

This ‘Arts and Crafts’ family home has a lovely range of interiors, dressed for a weekend stay in 1925, so you can imagine you are a guest of the Beale family. There is excellent attention to detail in the furnishing of the rooms. James and Margaret Beale chose an idyllic location with views across the Sussex countryside for their rural retreat. Designed by Philip Webb, the house is one of the finest examples of Arts and Crafts workmanship, with Morris & Co. interiors creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

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After a stimulating tour of the house we enjoyed a light lunch before venturing out into the gardens. A major restoration of the 5-hectare (12-acre) hillside garden showcases year-round seasonal highlights and an award-winning plant collection. On our visit the autumnal colours of the many Acers was a highlight. On the wider estate, footpaths lead out into the woodlands, Ashdown Forest and wider High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Further information: National Trust website

Old School Gardener

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!’

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WP_20160525_12_17_11_ProOn a recent trip to Devon, we stopped off en route to visit this Neo Gothic ‘pile’ in Somerset, former home of the Gibbs family, who made a ‘pile’ of their own, trading in a rather large ‘pile’ of Guano, or South American bird excrement, favoured for its value as a fertiliser in 19th century Britain.

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Making our way from the impressively equipped visitor reception and restaurant we passed by a delightful formal parterre garden set some way away from the house, and then toured this amazing mansion, with its glorious colourful decor and richly carved woodwork. Much of the house is in need of renovation, but the National Trust has made great progress in restoring some of the most important rooms.

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‘… An ordinary man with an extraordinary fortune, a man of vast riches but simple pleasures. Antony was the second generation of the Gibbs family to live at Tyntesfield. He epitomised the Victorian age, fascinated by art, technology and travel….After buying Tyntes Place for his growing family in 1843, William Gibbs went about making it his own. He remodelled the exterior of the simple regency house into the Gothic extravaganza we see today….Four generations of family life, a love of beautiful things and the accumulation of useful bits and bobs made Tyntesfield a treasure trove of objects. Almost  60,000 objects have been catalogued including everything from priceless paintings and ornate furnishings to ice skates and picnic sets. It is the largest recorded collection owned by the National Trust and tells the story of a wealthy family’s life over four generations….’

From here we made our way through some lovely formal gardens near to the house and then to the Walled Garden, where some gardener must have been a little the worst for wear when he/she planted the lettuces…

WP_20160525_13_32_54_ProSeriously, this series of wobbly lines was done as a bit of light relief in what might otherwise be the normal regimented lines of fruit and veg; I loved it.

And the rest of the garden was interesting, too, though I thought it lacked some variations in height to give it structure.nearby was a rather nice play area with lots of carved and country-themed play features; I especially liked the large slug (which doubles as a nice seat).

There was also a stall selling fresh veg and bulbs so I spent a little on buying some orange Tulips for next year…now where have I put them?

Further information: National Trust website

Old School Gardener

 

Our friends Jen and Dave visited us at the weekend and on the way they stopped off at the wonderful Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire. This National Trust property has a spectacular display of Snowdrops (finished by the time of their visit), formal gardens, summer borders and also a winding Winter Garden which features a fantastic mixture of flower, leaf and stem colour. Here are Jen’s pictures from that Winter Garden; I expect it will soon be pruned- thanks Jen!

Further information: National Trust Website

Old School Gardener

 

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En route to West Devon recently we had time for a brief afternoon stop at this wonderful National Trust property just outside Tiverton.

The house was built by Sir John Heathcoat Amory, the grandson of John Heathcoat, creator of the mechanised bobbin lace making machine and owner of a lace factory in Tiverton.

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The foundation stone was laid in 1869, but it was not until 1873 that the elaborate interior designs were completed. William Burges, designer of Knightshayes, had a rocky relationship with the family and was fired half way through the project, leaving his imaginative vision incomplete.

Burges was replaced by another reputable designer, John Dibblee Crace, who turned out to be another ill-fated choice. Much of Crace’s work was covered up by the family, but later restored by the Trust.

We only had time to see the ‘Gothic Revival’ house and its colourful interiors (the Trust has imaginatively opened up some of the unrestored rooms too)  and quick tour of the formal gardens. These were originally designed by Edward Kemp (1817-1891), a reputable landscape gardener, but it fell into decline by the 1920s. Rescued by Sir John and Lady Heathcoat Amory, after the Second World War, the garden became one of the finest in England, winning the highest horticultural awards, with more than 1,200 species unique to Knightshayes. This garden has a very strong structure created by extensive Yew hedging and some amusing topiary animals scampering along the tops!

The restored Walled Garden was also an interesting spot, with its steeply sloping site being used to grow vines the ‘French Way’.

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Knightshayes is certainly worth another, longer visit, when we can also explore the woodland garden… on the way out we stopped at a new ‘natural play’ site which cleverly uses three huge toppled oak trees to create a series of walkways, swing points, tunnels and other features.

Further information: Knightshayes National Trust website

Old School Gardener

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