Thursday, October 4, 2012

It was not our plan to visit England again this year but when the invitation to our nephew's wedding arrived I knew I had to get busy. The late June wedding seemed like the perfect opportunity to enjoy another round of garden visits. Out came the map book, the National Trust book ( we renewed our membership of the Royal Oak Foundation) and my little book of The Gardener's Guide to Britain. It may be an old edition, 1995, but most of those gardens are still there and looking better than ever.



We wasted no time, following our overnight flight, picked up the car and heading south towards Market Drayton. It was Friday and Wollerton Old Hall has very limited opening times. Friday the garden opens at 12pm.

We passed through the garden gate into the Old Garden and follow the York stone pathway.

You can see by the puddles on the stones that rain recently visited this garden. Everything is looking lush and green in this garden whose main feature is the clipped Portuguese Bay laurels.

Instead of continuing down the path we made a right turn through a gap in the hedge. I was entranced by this small scarlet vine growing through the yew. Not the first time we have seen this same vine in a yew. It is the Flame creeper or flame nasturtium, Tropaeolum speciosum.

English gardens have a way of beckoning the visitor. Who can resist that glimpse through the brick archway. It leads into the side garden which runs along the back wall of the house.

A row of clipped box in wooden barrels line the gravel walkway. One wall has an espaliered magnolia, the other a well trained rose just coming into bloom.

We now turned back and found ourselves in the yew walk.

More topiary in the form of spires which lead the eye down the grass walkway. The beds on either side are planted with mainly silver and white. A break in the planting affords a glimpse through to the Rill garden. We will visit there later.

For now we move on further down the pathway and into the sundial garden.

Off to the right is the summer house.

The rustic doors are wide open and afford views of the garden on two sides.

But there is no time to rest on the comfortable basket chairs. We must thread our way through the billowing masses of catmint and into the new walled garden.

The Lanhydrock garden, named for the NT property in Cornwall is primarily known as the hot garden. This year the lack of color is evidence of the wet and sunless summer England has been experiencing.

Never-the-less delphiniums are at their peak.

In the Well garden more clipped yews in cruciform shape surround a water feature.

Against the wall the carved well head.

More places to sit on a hot summer's day, but not today.

And finally into the Rill garden.

" Possibly the most beautiful personal garden to have been created in the last 25 years." The words of Chris Beardshaw, international garden designer, write and TV presenter.
To learn more about its creator, Lesley Jenkins follow the link to Wollerton Old Hall at the top of the page.

I really could have stayed there all day but we had another stop planned before heading to our B&B.
Sunnycroft: the contents of this Edwardian house completely unchanged since pre-First World War. A visit not to see the garden but to enjoy this time capsule of an age gone by. It was then on to home for night, the Mill House in High Ercall and dinner out at the local pub. We were ready for a good night's sleep and a busy day the following day. In retrospect a lot busier than we had expected!

June 23rd 2012
Finding ourselves within a few miles of the David Austin Rose Center it was our first stop of the day. Another cloudy day but just as long as the rain holds off.

I have never seen so many different varieties of rose at the same time under one sky and almost everyone had a fragrance. I have chosen to combine all the photographs together as it does make for an easier posting. Our visit was brief; just enough time to walk around all the different gardens and enjoy the fragrance. I can imagine what it would be like to be in the garden on a warm summer's afternoon.

The gardens are laid out as separate rooms with walkways and pergolas and statuary to add interest. David Austin USA is to be found in Tyler Texas and all roses are grown here in the USA.


Our next stop was Wightwich Manor and Gardens near Wolverhampton. Built by Theodore Mander in the late 1880s Mander was inspired by Oscar Wilde's lecture on the House Beautiful.

The house was commissioned in the old English style and built from brick and timber.

We enjoyed the guided tour of the house, with its pre raphaelite art and William Morris fabrics, before entering the Art and Crafts garden, by Thomas Mawson, which was added by Theodore's son Geoffrey.

I don't really want to say I was disappointed in these gardens but the fact is I had expected more. Maybe the soggy summer was to blame.


Just a few miles away lies 'the house that saved a king.' The house to which Charles 11 fled following his defeat at the battle of Worcester in 1651. We thought ourselves very fortunate that one of the volunteers who was standing at reception, when we arrived, offered to give a us a private tour of the house.

With apologies for the poor quality of the indoor photos( the flash is broken on my camera) this is the bed that Charles 11 slept in.

 And the priest hole in which he hid when Cromwell's men came looking for him.

Of more interest to the gardener was a nice display of herbs and their culinary and medicinal uses.

And the views through the window to the knot garden.

We were almost at the end of the tour, sitting by the large Inglenook fireplace in the kitchen when a lady rushed in and breathlessly asked if we were in a grey Ford Focus car. "You have been broken into" I am busy thinking about what was in the car. Our carry ons were on the back seat as there wasn't any room in the trunk. David's back pack and my soft sided bag on the floor. We rush out to the car to find this.

Three of those items taken. In the back pack David's Ipad, camera and our UK phone, his address book, clothes for the wedding, wash bag set of plug adaptors. The police were called. They discover two other cars broken into and their 'sat navs' stolen. To cut a long story short. The police tape up the window, David spends an hour on the phone finding a place to fix the window. Thrifty car hire is closed after 12pm on Saturdays so the AAA take over. We are spending the night 100 miles away and arrange to meet the window repair man in Hereford at his place of business. He finally shows up at 7pm during which time David has dropped me off at The Green Whale Tump near Ross-on-Wye and gone back to get this window fixed. By a stroke of good fortune I have arranged for dinner at the B&B and they hold off until 8:30 when we open a bottle of wine, enjoy a wonderful home cooked meal and determine this incident will not spoil our holiday.

WARNING NEVER LEAVE A SINGLE SOLITARY THING ON DISPLAY IN YOUR CAR. Thieves will break in and steal anything they can sell. The car insurance does not cover theft of items on the rear seat of the car!
We never got to see the gardens of Moseley Hall which is planted with plants that grew in the 17 century. I doubt we will go back to see them.

Breakfast at the Green Whale Tump
After a good night's sleep and the usual great breakfast we packed up or bags, all of which now fit in the trunk and set of for the first venue of the day. 

Sunday June 25th
We don't have far to go on this Sunday morning and there is little traffic on the roads. Westbury Court Gardens is but a few miles away from our stop for the night. We leave not a single thing visible in the car, but then here the small parking lot is watched over by the lady attendant at the gardens. The small size of the car park leads you to believe that this might be a less visited place. Would that be because there is no grand house anymore?


These gardens are all that remain of what was once a vast estate created between 1696 and 1705 by Maynard Colchester 1. The engraving below done by Johannes Kip in 1712 shows the house and gardens in all its formal glory.

When visiting gardens in England one of the things that becomes apparent is the different style of gardening throughout the ages. Today we were to learn more and with subsequent visits to gardens we will have a very good time line of gardening through the ages. Westbury is important because it is a rare survival of a Dutch style garden.

So what was a late 17th and 18th century Anglo-Dutch garden. Remembering that William of Orange reigned in England from 1689-1702it is easy to see why the Dutch influence was prominent in gardens of the time. The long canal which is 449' long stretches from the Dutch style pavilion to the gates at the road.

Many compartments hedged with yews and box and separated by function. Narrow canals with statuary.

Parterres in which the most important thing were the annual plantings. They created a mound called a 'carp's back' on which three rows of annuals were planted each 1' apart. This way the individual plant could be admired.

The vegetable gardens were planted mainly with vegetables, soft fruits and herbs. Plants like tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes and scarlet runner beans were grown as ornamentals. These plants had only recently been introduced and still regarded with suspicion.

The summer house and the walled garden was probably added by Maynard Colchester 11. He also demolished the late Elizabethen house of his father and built a palladian mantion. Later still this was replaced by a 19century country house.

Views of the church steeple from the walled garden.

The 150 year old tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera, which we were lucky to see in flower.

and this 400year old Holm oak or holly oak, Quercus ilex.

Westbury Court Gardens survived the major change in gardening which occurred during the Landscape
movement of the 18th century when the more natural approach to design was introduced by gardeners such as Capability Brown. In Victorian times water gardens came into favor once more and so the gardens survived.
When, in 1967 the site was under threat from the building of a housing estate, the National Trust were persuaded to take on a project they had never done before; the restoration of a garden. They were able to do so using the accounts of Maynard Colchester 1, the above engraving and remains of the planting scheme and hardscape.
Today we can all enjoy this slice of garden history.


On the way to our next destination we made a slight detour to visit the ruins of Chedworth Roman Villa. In order to reach the ruins the road took us deep into the English countryside along single track roads. David became very adept at finding places along the road into which to squeeze while the farming tractor passed by. There was no way the tractor was reversing back up the lane. At one point we thought we were lost. It seems we came in from an unusual direction where signage was at a minimum. We finally arrived at the very popular site and the sun was shining.
Chedworth was discovered by a game keeper in 1864 while out hunting for ferrets. He came across some loose pieces of mosaic, or tesserae as they are known. The owner, Lord Eldon, excavated the site protecting it from the elements by building timber shelters over the mosaic floors. When he sold the property in the 1920s it was purchased for the nation through public subscription.

The villa was a luxurious country house probably at its finest during the fourth century. You can see from the map that it was not far from the Roman town of Cirencester and the Fosse Way.

This year the site opened with new buildings to protect the wonderful mosaics. Imagine, all those years under dirt and rubble.

The underground heating system.

The natural spring close to the villa which probably resulted in their choosing this site. Still flowing hundreds of years later.

We now left to make our way towards Banbury in Oxfordshire. I had discovered a National Garden Scheme Open gardens for charity, that afternoon, in the village of Middleton Cheney and decided we should end our day with a visit to the 5 gardens on the tour. To this end I booked a B&B in the village of nearby Charlton with dinner in.


I'm sure all the participants in the garden tour were happy to have the sun shining on their beautiful gardens. there was a scent of roses on the air at the first two we visited. Two cottage back gardens side by side and sharing a common entrance.

The first with a beautifully designed water feature.

You know how much I want a head pot for my trailing Huernia but I could go for this one and a Mexican feather grass or mop of sedge for the hair.

Next door, with just enough room, this delightful summer house. A must in the temperamental English climate. We didn't have a summer house in our garden when I was growing up but I remember my mother used to like to sit in the greenhouse!

Various stone and brick walls around the house with these lovely stone tablets. I saw so many int he nurseries but they were just too heavy to bring home.

 This was to be a walking tour of gardens and using the map provided we walked to the next garden. I think we have to say that Margaret's garden was to become the favorite. She took the time to take us around, giving us a private tour. I dare say she was rather taken by the fact that folks from Texas had found their way to her garden.

Even in the small suburban garden there were so many nooks and crannies to explore.

Places to sit in the shade.

In the front garden the different varieties of flowers were a feast for the eyes.

And peaking though the arbor this lovely font planter.

Our walk brought us to the garden well suited to someone with mobility issues.

Nicely designed raised beds with wide gravel walkways in between.

As David talked with the lady of the garden about puffins and where to see them best, I took myself off to explore. I noticed two identical chairs on either side of the little pond. A perfect place to sit and enjoy the scene.

They were serving afternoon tea in the next garden and delightful as it was we couldn't have found a place to sit had we decided to stop for tea. Plus, we knew tea awaited us at our B&B!

Our final stop of the day and a large garden with a more typical expanse of lawn surrounded by plantings.

I did like the way they had tucked the little shed down the side and there was my favorite foxglove.

It had been a great day and tea awaited in the sitting room at Home Farm in Charlton.

Followed later by dinner.

And then bed!

Just north of Banbury, near the village of Warmington, is the National Herb Center. It was our first stop on Monday morning. The sun is shining!

And on the air the wonderful smell of all those herbs. They are organized by family and there are so many. So many different thymes, rosemaries and sages.

As well as the plants for sale there are several demonstration gardens and nature trails. When someone identified this large shrub as a rock rose then I certainly needed to have my photograph taken with it.

The herb center has a commanding view over 3 counties. More than just a shop and garden center the trails lead down through countryside where, if lucky, you might catch sight of badgers, foxes and partridge. A maze, still in its infancy, will delight children in future years. For me a visit to the shop and a small garden purchase completed the visit.

Our next stop was to be Stowe Landscape Gardens. A strange name for an estate, and although I knew that this was the site of the famous Stowe School, I knew nothing about the gardens.


 The estate has a long history from its beginnings as a modest walled garden in the village of Stowe to the present day. Various people have owned Stowe and left their mark on the gardens, but it was Lord Cobham, reputed to be wealthier than the king of England who made a statement in the gardens.

That statement clearly shouted out 'wealth'. This was once the main entrance to the property, and we stop to take a photograph of a scene meant to impress. That was what the wealthy liked to do and what better way to do it than creating a magnificent estate with incredible vistas, lakes and temples. At the time the estate came into the hands of Lord Cobham the head gardener was Lancelot 'Capability' Brown.

Although often credited with having started the so called 'Landskip' style, it was well under way by the time Brown came to Stowe although he did develop and popularize the movement. He was considered to be a great gardener but was also an astute business man. "It has great capabilities" was his favorite phrase, and so he became known as Capability Brown.

Suddenly everyone was tearing out their formal features, an example of which can still be seen today at Westbury Court Garden, and replacing them with man-made countryside; irregular lakes, low hills, clumps of trees and streams which had their course altered to bring them into view.

There were to be no more fences, no straight lines. Pathways must wind through the estate, kitchen gardens set miles away from the house. Nothing must interrupt the view of his artificial countryside.

The Temple of British Worthies.

The Queen's Temple, where a music student, from the school, appeared to be sitting a practical, piano exam.
There were many notable foreign and British dignitaries, and famous men of their time who came ot Stowe. Among them in 1786 John Adams and Thomas Jefferson who wrote that they didn't think ' the embellishments to the landscape, made by the owners of this great country, would suit the more rugged American countryside' I think he was right.
We now had quite a drive to reach our next destination.


Gardens of Anglesey Abbey were created by Lord Fairhaven. They are a mixture of formal design and open parkland. He chose the more common plants that would grow easily in the alkaline soils of the area. If we were expecting to find a ruined abbey we were in for a surprise. Although originally there was an Augustinian priory, the priory was destroyed during the dissolution of the monasteries. From then on subsequent occupants built, rebuilt and renovated until the building as it is today. Unfortunately the house was closed so we headed straight out into the gardens.

Our walk took us along the winding pathway though the winter garden.

A beautiful sculptural stand of silver birch.

And a seating area planted with Festuca.

The rose gardens.

The semicircular lawn with herbaceous border.

The formal garden with its planting of young dahlias, probably delayed by the cold summer.

And evidence of the rainy summer the whole of England was having.

Time to move on to our B&B for the night, West Stowe Hall. We were in for a wonderful surprise. Let me take you there tomorrow!


David tells me that when it comes to selecting B&B's in England I am the best. Actually it is pretty easy. I choose ones out in the countryside, either farms or private houses. They must have charm, possibly a nice garden and if they have some antiquity then that is a bonus. West Stow Hall was to fulfill all my requirements.

I couldn't help thinking the tower at Sissinghurst as we pulled into the gravel parking area.  As I look back at my photos I am wishing wholeheartedly that I had taken more photos and put more thought into them. The evening sun did pose a little problem.
After taking our bags up to the room we went down to the kitchen for a cup of tea and a piece of cake. Every traveler needs this after a long day. Before getting ready for dinner, which we would eat in the dining room, we went out to stroll around the gardens accompanied by one of their dogs.

Maybe you can just make out the two of us sitting on a bench at the end of the plant lined grass walk. You might have thought he was my very own dog the way he sat down beside me. He must have done this countless times, showing off his lovely garden.

We are unbelievable at the rose climbing high into the tree. We learn it is Rambling Rector.

And our new found friend leads us to show off the new foals in the pasture. He sneaks under the fence to get a closer look himself. The mares know him well but the foals are not too sure.

And another shot of that old rambler. Would that I could grow that to entwine through by own trees.

We can't thank our hostess Eileen enough for making us so welcome. There were two other ladies staying and they joined us for supper. Eileen and Andy, her husband, joined us all as the table in the large dining room.
The surprises were to come the following morning when we are treated to a tour of the house and a history lesson. We begin at the tower which was built around 1530. As the legend goes the house was first leased and then bought in 1540 by a Sir John Croftes. He was purported to have been Master of the Horse to Mary Tudor when she came to live in Suffolk. Her coat of arms seen over the doorway may have been added as a compliment to her.

The daisywheel pattern above the door is a symbol that was used to ward off evil spirits. This pattern was often found carved into the wood mantlepieces to prevent evil spirits from coming down the chimney. We are to learn later about other methods of warding off the evil spirits.

A collonade links the tower with the main part of the house. It is likely that the upper timbers reached to the ground and were later bricked in. This may have been after the moat, which originally surrounded the house, was removed.

In the sitting room a large Inglenook fireplace. Last evening we had enjoyed a glass of Pimms, with the other guests, before dinner.

But the best surprise of all came when we went up into the house and through their private rooms into the room above the gate house. Paintings depicting the four ages of man decorate the walls around the room. They are thought to have been done in 1575. They were only discovered in the 1800s when the old panelling was removed.

Original carved wood.

Wow! All that history. It leaves you thinking about all visitors might have stepped through that tower gateway. Wish I could step back in time.

Tuesday June 26th 2012

The morning's tour of West Stow Hall meant a somewhat later start to our day's travels than we had anticipated. First visit was to Ickworth.


Everything about this estate is Italian save for the fact that it was built during Georgian times. Frederick Augustus Hervey, the 4th Earl of Bristol loved everything Italian. The Rotunda is based on a design by an Italian architect and was to serve as a museum for his vast collection which included many things Italian. Work began on the rotunda in 1795 and was incomplete on his death in 1803. The responsibility of finishing the house fell to his son. The family owned the property until 1956 when the house was given to the National trust in lieu of death duties.  The East wing is the Ickworth Hotel, leased from the trust and the West wing was recently completed by the Trust and used as a conference center.

The gardens are Italianate and formal. Pleasant to walk around but not my favorite garden to visit. We had arranged to join the tour of the house and managed to do a quick tour of the gardens around the house before heading into the house. There we were treated to a wonderful guided tour of 'below stairs'

In 1524 Lavenham was considered the 14th wealthiest town in Britain. It was the wool trade that brought the inhabitants their wealth and the world famous Lavenham blue cloth was exported to many countries.

Close timber framed buildings were considered to be a sign of wealth and this town boasts 320 such buildings all in remarkable condition. The Guildhall, above, is one such building which today belongs to the National Trust and houses a museum of the village's history and the story of the wool trade.

Rameses the mummified cat found in the roof of a nearby house. Cats were often entombed in the walls of house to keep away evil spirits.

In the walled garden plants that were used for dying the wool in the middle ages.

We took a stroll around the town and admired the medieval houses. We had learnt earlier that it was the Victorians who painted the wood black and that this was not how they had been originally. Many of the houses had their black paint stripped replaced with the original lye treatment that was used to prevent insect damage.

I remembered that many times house leeks were grown on the edges of roofs to ward off evil spirits. Maybe these yellow plants growing on this roof were also allowed to grow for a similar reason.

It had been on my plan to next visit the Sutton Anglo Saxon Hoo burial ship, but the afternoon had worn on and we needed to be getting to our stop for the night; Tuttington Hall. I felt we should at least try to contact our hosts for the night to let them know what time we would be arriving. This was made all the more difficult by the loss of our phone and the fact that rather like in the US public pay phones are few and far between. We stopped 3 times at phone boxes to find no phone and one time at a Tesco supermarket. Assured by the gentleman collecting the shopping carts that there was a public phone in the store we parked and went in only to be told there wasn't one. So, it as without communication we arrived at Tuttington Hall and with the hope that they had not given away our room for the night. As we pulled up outside our hosts, David and Andra Papworthe,  rushed out of the open door to greet us. Tea was served in the sitting room after which we took a stroll around some pretty spectacular gardens.

One again we were accompanied by the family dogs. My attention was drawn to this delightful little dish garden which also seemed to act as a water dish for the dogs. I later learnt it was a pig feeder. I wonder what that ittle grass with the burgundy seed heads is? Would it grow in Texas, I wonder.

Garden troughs are always a favorite of mine and their placement in the gravel pathways is something that I really love.

A beautifully well maintained vegetable garden. I'm sure we would be sampling some of their produce at the dinner table. And the chicken house would no doubt produce our breakfast eggs.

We ate dinner with Andra and David in their fabulous Millenium conservatory which looked out over the gardens. Cromer crabs were on the menu. What a treat. Wednesday June 27th 2012
The long awaited day had arrived. I tell David that we must be outside the gate to the garden on the dot of 2pm. That is the time the garden opens. It is the main reason for coming to this part of England, tucked away on the east coast of Norfolk.
In the meantime we have the morning and must find another place to visit. I have chosen the Blickling Estate, former home of the Boleyn family.


We arrive in time to take a tour of the house and our excellent guide is Peter Kelf. Outside the main door he begins with the tale of Ann Boleyn and the day she was beheaded, May 19th 1536. Her ghost is supposed to appear every year. Ann riding in a carriage driven by 6 headless white horses, driven by a headless coachman and she holding her head on her lap. This year on that date 50 people showed up at the gates! The Boleyn house was torn down long ago and a new house built in the Jacobean style. There is a long history of ownership until the the National Trust take ownership in 1942.

The tour of the house is fascinating. In the entrance hall is a painting of Mary Tudor wearing La Peregrina. The story of this pear shaped pearl is captivating. From its discovery 550 years ago in the gulf of Panama, from whence it entered into the Spanish crown jewels and then to Mary Tudor, on her wedding to King Philip of Spain. Then a long history until Richard Burton bought the pearl at auction in 1968 for a mere $37,000. It was a gift to Elizabeth Taylor who had the simple setting redesigned into one with diamonds and rubies. It sold at auction in 2011 for $11,000,000. There were so many interesting stories we heard about the house and the families who have lived there. We then moved outside into the gardens. They themselves  have a long history of change too detailed to enter into here.
The ancient yew hedges bordering the house were first recorded in 1745.


The original parterre was planted during the latter half of the 19thC  to compliment the house. The layout and planting of the beds was done by the current owner, the Marchioness of Lothian.The parterre is set around an 18th C stone fountain. In the words of the garden designer Jane Loudon " the laying out and planting of the parterres should always be attended by the ladies of the place" These gardens were redone by Norah Lindsey in the 1930s who removed many of the Victorian beds and created just four large planting beds around an 18th C stone fountain.

The raised berm above the garden is reached by a series of stone steps. At the end is a temple, a remnant of former times.

We are running short of time and must be on our way to..

Several years ago a friend sent me an article from the The Wall Street Journal about this wonderful garden in Norfolk. "Have you been there?" he asked. I hadn't. I put the article in a British garden book thinking to myself, I will get there some day. Today is that day. On the way through the Norfolk countryside I stop to take a photo of this marvelous wicker fence.

And we arrive with just a minute or two to spare before the gates open.

This is a private garden with limited opening times so I had planned the days before and after around this day. There is no map of the property although a book is available to buy. I decided to use as our guide the article I had with me.
When I read the pages of the article I couldn't believe that this was Norfolk. After all wasn't Norfolk that rather windswept part of the country bordering on the North sea. However, here were photographs of a place that could have been Australia, South Africa end even Texas. How did this all come about for this is a young garden. Nothing was here when the owners Alan Gray and Graham Robeson bought the old uninhabited vicarage, with two acres of land, in 1973. They have since added 100 acres. There was no garden and the flat arable land stretched for miles around them. They have done all the design work themselves and the following photographs will attest to their skill at creating a magnificent garden stretching over 25 football fields and growing.

We pass through the plant area first. I am sure I will return here to check out the name of plants before I leave and will be sorry not to be able to take some with me.

The decision has to be made which way to go and I decide to the right as fewer people are moving that way.

With the skillful use of hedges and walls they have made it possible to provide a safe haven for many plants that you would never think of growing in England let alone such a windswept and sometimes inhospitable area.

This composition of Tuscan pot and aeoniums is stunning.

The garden has many newly built walls and archways. The crest above this elaborate arch
has the motto 'concilio et labore' which means 'wisdom and effort' or more loosely, think about the results of your work before doing it. I think they chose this well because immense thought was put into the design of these garden before a single hedge or wall was laid. We have our own family motto which I chose and it is 'initium est dimidium facti.' Ours too is related to the making of a garden and looseley translates as 'half the battle is getting started'.

This lead cistern is dated 1758.

We are to find all kinds of places to sit and rest. This one waiting for someone to produce an alfresco dinner.

Pathways with trellises where you have a glimpse of another garden through the loose herbaceous border.

Stone balls are a familiar feature on many of the arches and gates and although they may have had a rather sinister reason for their presence in the past today they are probably just a way to finish of the gate.

When the eye is drawn away from the palntings it is to the intricate stone and slatework underfoot.

Areas of gravel decorated with stone troughs of alpines.

We stop for a while under this arbor and discuss how we might add one to our own garden.

We now enter a more formal garden. Our first view is from this elaborate structure which looks down onto a delightful water garden with an unusual fountain.

The low wall of capped wood posts and edging echoes the lily pond.

But the garden is not all structure. Here a woodland pathway with my favorite foxgloves.

The mediterranean garden with summer house.

The wildflower meadow.

I have been dying to see the Southwest garden with dry creek. Here agaves, yuccas and mulleins with stands of California poppies. This is the driest part of England but to see such a garden here is amazing.

A pile of river rock used to secure the ends of this seating area.

Beyond the confines of walls and hedges a field of barley.

Now those are the most artistic wood piles I have ever seen.

The walled kitchen garden is clearly a recent addition. Most walled gardens would also include a greenhouse built against the south facing wall. That way more tender plants would gain benefit from the winter sun.

The soft fruit garden.

Rhubarb with forcing jars.

These hedges were laid so that the view at the end would be of the lighthouse two miles away.

The rose garden.

I wonder how many gardeners take care of this garden. None were in evidence.

This is truly a garden that must be on the garden tour list when visiting the UK. I could never say which garden I have visited is my favorite anymore than I can say which National Park is my favorite. They are all so different although this one is an Arts and Crafts garden so has similarities to the wonderful Sissinghurst and Hidcote, to name two.

We had quite a journey now to our B&B for the night but we determined that we would try to see the walled garden at Felbrigg Hall. Felbrigg closes at 5pm and we arrived with no minute to spare this time. Stay tuned for Part 2 of June 27th, the incredibly lovely walled garden of Felbrigg Hall and our resting place for the night, Kenilworth small holding, Wisbech.


Wednesday June 27th 2012

We knew that Felbrigg closed at 5pm and we were hoping that the gate to the garden would still be open. We parked the car and walked towards the house. By a stroke of good fortune I happened to be talking about the walled garden as we passed someone who was leaving. They told us the walled garden was back near the car park. At this point we started to run to be met with disappointment at the gate which was closed and said 'closed'! Not quite 5pm we begged the lady who was in attendance to let us have a few minutes in the garden. She kindly opened the gate. And so I rushed around like a crazy person taking photos of the best walled garden I have ever visited.

Of course the walled garden was far away from the house. We had already learnt that during the landskip movement nothing must impede the natural look of the countryside when viewed from the house. So the walled gardens, which had previously been much closer to the house for practical purposes, were moved well out of sight. The center piece of this walled garden is the working dovecote seen here. I believe it is the only one in Britain.

These gardens still produce all the fruit and vegetables for the restaurant at the house but they also have stunning ornamental plantings.

As we walked down the lavender lined pathway we disturbed the doves who were pecking away among the stones.

Fruit trees are espaliered along all the walls for additional warmth.

Although I like neat pathways there is nothing prettier in my eyes than plants spilling over and softening the paths. It seems every plant under the sun will grow in England the climate is so hospitable, even in their drought and poor summer.

Billowing Crambe cordifolia, so airy and light. We saw this last year in Seattle but never in Austin!

Yes, we can grow this in Austin but then they can grow it here too!!

Always the walls and archways adorned with flowering vines. A perfect combination.

I know that the owners of East Ruston talked about their sandy neutral pH soil and we had the same where I grew up. We also had these mesembryanthemums in our garden too. Incredible Thai silk, jewel-box colors. Native to South Africa they like Norfolk too.

Surely they would like to grow in Austin.

Greenhouses, once again built against the wall but this time the wall extended t give extra height.

I just don't want to leave this gorgeous place. I am giddy with all the breathtaking color, the warm stillness of the late afternoon and bees buzzing among the flowers.
But we must be on our way, find a pub for dinner and then find our B&B.

First things first. Dinner at the Crown Inn, East Rudham. Fully booked later, but this early they could fit us in at exactly the table we would have chosen to sit at.

Then on to Kenilworth Small Holding. Our accommodation was a purpose built extension to the house with its own little patio and looking out over their gardens.

We immediately went outside to explore.

A grotto in the greenhouse.

A green man on the wall.

And an Oriental inspired garden. Our hostess, who happened to have grown up in our home town, teaches Tai Chi.

Every little nook and cranny filled with plants.

In the vegetable garden the inevitable broad bean plants with their striking flowers.

A home for bees and butterflies.

Thursday June 28th 2012,

 In the morning we enjoy a Continental breakfast on the patio.

With this view.

A new day has arrived and I have quite a lot on the schedule before we end up at my cousin's house near Nottingham.


Thursday June 27th 2012
As we walk from our parked car towards Lyveden New Bield a roofless structure comes into view. I am wondering why the National Trust hasn’t restored what appears to be a burnt out shell. I am soon to learn about this grand garden lodge or summer house. After all the beautiful and colorful gardens we have seen in England this certainly comes as a surprise. Not a flower in sight. And yet here is an important part of garden history; a relic of the Elizabethan age.

Sir Thomas Tresham began work on this grand garden lodge in 1595. From his manor house in the valley below he planned to build an elaborate Elizabethan garden where visiting guests would pass though orchards, terraces and parterres. They would view the gardens from pleasure mounds, cross moats, walk around labryinths and end up at his magnificent garden lodge. Here they would be entertained in the grandest manner. It was not to be. In 1605 Sir Thomas died leaving his estate to his son Francis. Two months later Francis was implicated in the Gunpowder Plot, was incarcerated and shortly thereafter died in the Tower of London. Of natural causes they say! This once wealthy and powerful Catholic family was disgraced and left with massive debt.

Nothing is left today of the manor house in which they lived but the garden lodge still remains as it was left 400 years ago. A testament to its craftsmen builders. The outside walls of the garden lodge are richly carved with the religious symbols of their Catholic faith for which they had been persecuted for years. The property was donated to the National Trust in 1922 after the local residents purchased the property for £1000. Work began on restoring the Elizabethan gardens in 1995.

Attributed to National Trust 
It was not  uncommon for grand houses to have labyrinths and evidence of one existing here came to light when the Trust examined this aerial photograph taken by the Luftwaffe in the 1940s. Invisible at ground level but clearly visible from the air are 10 concentric rings. Details of a possible planting are to be found in the papers of Sir Thomas and included 400 raspberry and rose bushes. Religious symbolism abounds in the garden lodge and this would be yet another example. The raspberries representing the passion of Christ and the roses Christ's mother. The maze the one true path of faith.

The fields are full of the flowers of my childhood but more importantly this has become an oasis of for wildlife. Of greater interest is the research that has been done into Elizabethan plantings. Core samples from the pond have revealed seeds and pollen from roses, pinks, burr marigold, coriander, parsley and fennel. A veritable time capsule of the Elizabethan garden and another step back in time for this garden traveler.
We drive on towards our destination in Nottingham with a plan to make a stop at Belton Gardens. As we pull up the long driveway into the parking area it is clear by the number of car, coaches, girl and boy scouts that something is going on here. We guess correctly. The Olympic torch is about to arrive. We must make haste to leave before its arrival as the roads in and out will soon be closed.


If you were to guess that these gardens were Italian you would be correct. They were designed by Sit Jeffry Wyatville around 1820. This site is that of the former kitchen garden.

The Orangery

Directly opposite the Orangery the Lion Exedra water feature.

The Dutch garden c 1879 is planted with seasonal plantings.

The clock tells us that it is time to leave hurriedly, not only because of the torch but also because there is very threatening weather; thunder, lightening. We literally end up running back to the car only just making it before the heavens opened.

I can tell you that living in Texas we are accustomed to torrential downpours. Several inches within a few minutes. But the likes of rain like that in England must surely be unusual. It rained so hard as we drove through the town that we could not see in front of us and then the hail started and I am busy thinking. 'OK, we have had to replace a broken window on the car and now we are going to get hail damage'. Oh, and the poor torch runners and spectators who lined the streets. Luckily we got though unscathed and managed to arrive at my cousin's house to bright sunshine. The vagaries of British weather!  Time enough to retreat to another garden with a glass of wine. Friday June 29th Heading to Lincoln and the wedding.

This is the weekend of the wedding of our nephew, the main reason for our trip to England this year. We leave my cousin's house on the Friday morning with no plans for visits to gardens. I couldn't find anything in the area. However, my cousin suggests we should visit the workhouse on our way to the family event in Lincoln.


It was something I heard my grandma say on several occasions. "You'll have us in the workhouse" Did I ever ask her what she was talking about. Never. Later on, when researching my family history, I was to learn about the workhouse. It was a place for the poor and destitute people to go where they would receive shelter, clothing, medical attention and food. In return they would work. It was considered to be a place for able bodied people but eventually became a place for the old and sick. It was a harsh life.

Lucky were those who got to work in the garden which seemed to me to be a pleasant retreat from the cold austerity of life in the building.

It all came to an end when the Labor party took office and the 'Welfare State' was created. See how quickly they were able to do it. The workhouse was to be a thing of the past.

We now pressed on towards Lincoln and our hotel close by the magnificent cathedral. Once registered we took the opportunity to visit the Joseph Banks Conservatory, which is dedicated to his work. ( If you haven't realized already, from my former postings,  I have quite a soft spot for Sir Joseph). What a disappointment. Clearly there is no money to fund the upkeep of the building and plants and all are in terrible shape. Enough said.

We turned out attention to the Cathedral. In the words of John Ruskin, "I have always held... that the cathedral of Lincoln is out and out the most precious piece of architecture in the British Isles and roughly speaking worth any two other cathedrals we have."

The main door.

A tribute to Sir Joseph Banks, erected by the British Australian Society.

The nave.

The sun shone brightly on the Saturday of the wedding and photographs were taken beside the statue of Tennyson outside the cathedral. Lots of celebrations all weekend and a wonderful opportunity to meet up with all the family until we left on our way on the Sunday morning.

Sunday July 1 2012
We were headed for Yorkshire and Nostell Priory. My GG grandfather hunted here in the 1820s. Our stop for the night was in Carlton and dinner at the local pub was the typical Sunday carvery. Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.

Then it was back to the B&B to relax in the leather recliner for some soccer. We leave for York in the morning.

Monday July 2 2012

Searching through my National Trust book I find a garden that I think is worth a visit. It is the former home of the Terry Chocolate family in the town of York. Following the visit we will take The National Trust walk into the town of York, down chocolate lane.  I have to say that my all time favorite Terry chocolate was the box of All Gold. It came close to Black Magic.  I'm a dark chocolate girl just like my dad. I still love their chocolate orange, though.
But first the house.....

The house is in the Arts and Craft style and the gardens to match with many rooms. Noel Terry acquired the four acres of land on which he built the house in 1925. Although the Trust took over the house in 1984 it has been used as their regional headquarters since then and the house has never been open to the public until late July when several rooms are to be opened to the public. There will also be a  cafe which will no doubt serve all manner of chocolaty confections. But for now only the gardens are open for the public to wander.

The gardens had probably fallen into some decline until it was decided to open them to the public in 2005. So their restoration is a work in progress. It is easy for me to attest to how quickly a garden falls into a decline as soon as the owner leaves it, even for a period of several weeks.

The typical Art and Craft style is similar to those gardens seen at Sissinghurst with several garden rooms. Sunken patio areas with seating.

Long walkways lined with lavender.

Interesting water features.

The view from the terrace which runs across the back of the house with lily pond.

We saw Philadephus flowering in almost every garden we visited. This one a double, with wonderful fragrance.

And of course the ubiquitous summer flowering foxglove.

The rock garden and pond at the lower end of the garden still require much work to bring them back to their former glory.
We now set out on the walk to York, across the race course behind the house, passed the chocolate factory and on towards York minster.

There is always restoration work going on at England's fine historic buildings nad at York they have a stone yard on the site.

We had one last stop to make in York; Treasurer's House, close by the cathedral.

Frank Green gave Treasurer's house to the Trust in 1930 along with his complete collection. The house has a long history going back over 300 years. Originally the home of the treasurer's of York Minster the house bears no resemblance to the original house of the 1500s.

I found myself fascinated by the walls surrounding the house where it seems they used old pieces of other buildings to decorate the walls.

Leaving the house and walking by some more modern stone work.

 We passed by the Minster once more on our walk back to where we had left our car at Goddard's House.

We now had to drive to our B&B north of York, in the village of Crayke. We had already had one rather traumatic incident on our trip and unknown to us we were about to have another. We left York on the A19 which is a two lane road through the countryside. Traveling at speed, suddenly our car came to a screeching halt. There were two other cars ahead of us. We were just wondering why we had come to such a sudden stop wen we saw the reason. A body lying in the road ahead of us. We knew we had to do something to help. The lady in the car in front and I went over to see what we could do. The elderly man in the car who had caused the accident was just sitting in his car in shock. I used the other lady's phone to call the ambulance and they gave me direction on what to do. Unfortunately I knew there was really nothing to be done as the injuries were just horrific. The ambulance arrived in just a few minutes and there was nothing more for us to do. We were able to pull our car across the grass and around the scene. I later learnt the man had died. It was a very sad end to the day.

Tuesday July 3rd 2012

The following morning we drove past fields of red corn poppies on the way to Helmsley Walled garden.


The garden dates back to 1759 when it provided fruit and vegetables for the castle and Duncombe Park. The garden was abandoned in the 1970s and from 1994 has been restored under the leadership of Alison Ticehurst and many volunteers. The garden is a charity which provide horticultural therapy for the disadvantaged.

The medieval Helmsley castle can be seen in the background.

The glass houses have been restored to their former glory and I must say they were magnificent. Also the row of cold frames running along the front.

The physic garden with medicinal plants.


Asparagus and soft fruit beds.

Fruit trees espaliered against the high walls. The garden boasts 70 varieties of heritage apple trees and the British Clematis Societies national collection, all tended by an army of volunteers who were much in evidence on the day we visited.


In close vicinity is the manor house of Nunnington Hall.

We first visit the house but my eye is drawn to views into the gardens beyond.

A small enclosed garden, always my favorite.

In the vegetable garden a scarecrow. He doesn't seem to work at keeping away Peter rabbit. See him in the corner?

A square foot garden designed for those who have difficulty bending down.

Sheep fleece used as a mulch underneath the vines.

Catmint along the terrace.

A close up of the willow horses made by sculptor Emma Stothard, in the orchard.

Grass-lined gravel paths.

We just had time to visit Rievaulx Terrace and another chapter in the story of English garden history.


There is some uncertainty as to exactly how the terrace was built, but however it was done it involved a considerable amount of earth moving. A walk through the woods brings the visitor out to a grass covered terrace overlooking the ruins of the Cistercian Rievaulx Abbey. Created in 1758 by Thomas Duncomb III the terrace was designed, once again, to impress. Twice a year a party from the house would arrive in horse-drawn carriages, walk along the Terrace, view the ruins below, and then enter the Temple below where they would be wined and dined.

At the other end is a domed Doric temple.

Views of the abbey would be impossible were it not for cuttings made through the trees to afford the visitor a view of the ruins below. There are at least 13 of these views down to the abbey along the length of the Terrace.

Probably the most expensive garden shed in the world! The Temple is only open for a short period of time and we were fortunate to be there when it was open. The frescoes on the ceiling, depicting Perseus and Andromeda, are by Guiseppi Mattia Borgnis. Unfortunately shortly after finishing this work he died from lead poisoning. The result of many years of licking his paint brushes.

Returning to our B&B for the night we detoured to see the white horse on the hillside.

Wednesday July 4th,
Before we left our Yorkshire B&B of the previous two nights, Hazelwood Farm and Guesthouse, I had the opportunity to accompany Annette on her morning visit to the chicken coup. Oh, to have reached this stage in life and never to have had my own chickens. So sad!

Two eggs in the nest this morning.

I then took a quick stroll around the garden. Everything is so lush and green with all the rain.

The view across the farm lands.

We had plans to visit Studley Royal this morning but then Annette told us about another garden, Newby Hall and Gardens. We decided to add this to the itinerary.

The house was designed by Sir Christopher Wren (St Paul's) and is surrounded by 25 acres of gardens. We had become so used to free entry to National Trust properties using our Royal Oak membership that we had to swallow hard to pay the nearly £20 entry for two to visit just the gardens. In the end we decided we may never come this way again so we might as well do it.

Very little of the original gardens, which were installed in 1695, remain today. Major Edward Compton, who inherited Newby in 1921 is largely responsible for the garden layout as it looks today. He was influenced by Lawrence Johnson, who owned Hidcote, and created a main axis to the garden in the form of a double herbaceous border flanked by yew hedges. Off this were several garden rooms.

Following the major's death the gardens fell into some disrepair mainly because they were so labor intensive. The major's son and wife had a keen interest in plants and over a period of 10 years they replanted all the gardens.

David enjoys the view from the highly decorated Italianate bench.

Sylvia's Garden. A memorial to Sylvia, wife of the major. The garden was created on 3 levels with an ancient Byzantine corngrinder as its centerpiece and is planted in muted pinks, purples and blues.

Could this be the Rambling Rector again?

The rock garden with aqueduct, no longer in use.

Pieces of old stone carvings from York Cathedral.

Grasses in the meadow.

The rose garden.


A gabion bench.


Fountains Abbey was founded in 1132. The valley of the River Skell provided all they needed to build the magnificent monastery. When they were admitted to the Cistercian Order they were able to take advantage of the lay brother system which meant the lay brothers could do all the day to day work around the monastery. It became a community of masons, tanners, carpenters, shoemakers and blacksmiths. One of their major roles was to look after their vast herds of sheep. With the sale of wool the monastery gained great wealth but as often happens they were tempted to expand their holdings. Then came the Black Death, invasions from the Scots and loss of lay members. Still, even with the decrease in the importance of sheep farming coupled with an increase in diary farming the monastery still retained its importance until Henry VIII and the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Gradually the building was dismantled until it is as seen today.

The altar.


The ruins passed through many hands until bought by William Aislabie. It was the final step in finishing the Georgian garden which his father had begun. This style of gardening, which began in the 18th century, had a major influence on the gardens of Europe.
Taking the high ride walk the views of water and greenscape are magnificent. There are several follies including the Octagon Tower.

The Rotunda.

Serpentine waterways

The headless statue, "Anne Boleyn"

And at the end the surprise view of the ruined abbey in the distance.

The moon pool

We could have spent a whole day there exploring the deer park and other buildings but we still had to find our B&B for the night. With only the name of the village and a road called Old Rd we had some difficulty finding the house but with help in the local pub we soon found our way to Crooklands with its delightful setting looking over the valley. We were lucky to get in just before the rain started but I knew I was going to be out there in the garden the next morning.

One quick photo and a dash inside to look through the bedroom window at a very rainy scene. Good job our hosts were cooking our dinner and we didn't have to leave the comfort of the house.

More photos of the garden in the morning. Thursday July 5th 2012
One of the bonuses of staying at B&Bs are their gardens. Crooklands had just the kind of garden I love not just for the stunning views in every direction but for the patio paving with plants growing in nooks and crannies. The limestone landscape provides beautiful rustic stones to compliment the style of this very old farmhouse.

The owners delightful little Jack Russell terrier keeps watch over the garden.

Little pebbles are used to break up the stonework and add further interest.

The garden is broken up by several levels and the native fieldstone has been used one again to form steps and walls.

Even a place to perch on dry days.

Mosses and small plants find a niche among the rocks. I wish it were so easy in Texas to grow plants int he walls. As yet I have had no success, even with succulents.

Here is a deeply sunken patio which would be a perfect sun trap on a sunny day.

On one wall a mossy covered, Roman bust, water feature from which trickles the overflow from the natural spring which serves the water supply to the house.

We were taking a day off from gardens to do a little hiking in the area. As you can see we started off in the rain. We never travel anywhere without our waterproofs.

 Under cloudy skies we headed off up the trail to Malham Cove and the limestone pavements.

Along the somewhat slippery and treacherous trail up the the cove we encountered several logs and branches in which people had placed coins. Reminiscent of the wishing well and dating back to the 1700s, trees were thought to have special powers of healing. These trees became know as wishing trees and hammering a coin into the bark was supposed to take illness away. There are some incredible examples of coin studded trees in this part of the world.

At the scar water flows from under the cliff face having reached the river by a by vast underground cave  formations.
Climbing the over 400 rough stone steps up to the top we find ourselves on the limestone pavement created during the melting of the last great ice age.

The sun is out and I have stripped off two layers. Always a good thing in England to wear layers!

Hart's Tongue fern finds a home in one of the deep grykes.

There was a time when areas of limestone like this were removed for landscaping purposes. Today these areas are protected by law and a reminder on the top never ever to buy worn limestone boulders for the garden.

How lucky we are to have our own limestone to use in the garden. The view of the surroundings fields shows a patchwork quilt of fields with drystone walls. Before the Enclosure Act this would just have been open common land.

We learn it is not easy to get stubborn cows off the road.

My jacket is back on again by the time we reach Malham Tarn.

Yorkshire view from the roadside

It's time to head back to our B&B for dinner.

And one last night before we head to our home town for a couple of nights with friends.

July 8th 2012
We spend the last few days of our trip to England in the town in which we grew up. It has not been a good summer for the west coast of England but still look how beautiful the flowers are in our friend's garden.

One of the gardens that is within a short driving distance of our home town is Greagarth Hall, the home of Arabella Lennox-Boyd. It is open infrequently but it happened to be open on Sunday July 8th.We hoped that the weather would be favorable for our visit.

Gresgarth hall is the country home of Sir Mark and Lady Arabella Lennox-Boyd. Arabella is a well know and much acclaimed landscape architect who has exhibited and won at Chelsea. Our first visit to this garden was in July of 2009. You can enjoy some different photos of this visit here.
If you are like me an arched doorway like this just beckons.

Someone rushed over to say it was the private area of the garden. I managed to snap a photo of this stone.

Looking back at the house from across the lake.

Imagine my excitement when I saw the owners of the house and garden coming towards me. I just had to introduce myself. They were kind enough to let me take their photograph. You will notice the mark of a true gardener. Arabella has some weeds in her hand.

One of the garden rooms at Gresgarth has some incredible pebble mosaic paving.

Herbaceous borders.

The vegetable garden is vast with every kind of fruit and vegetable.

Willow fencing around the asparagus bed.

Neatness and order everywhere.

A garden shed in lakeland stone with the necessary rambling rose and a bee house on the wall.

Gathering peas must be quite easy when there are pathways in between all the rows.

This bench must surely have come from Italy, the owners country of birth.

Those rows of rhubarb forcers which I always lust after. Even if rhubarb can only be grown as an annual in Texas a few of these pots would add a wonderful decorative feature to the garden.

The inviting front entranceway of the hall.

We sit for a while on one of the benches in the gazebo overlooking Artle Beck.

The bridge over Artle Beck.

We cross to the other side to look back at the gardens. One last view before we head off towards Manchester airport for the night and our flight back home. It has been another wonderful visit to the land of our birth.