Saturday, 6 August 2011

So Ms Bueller, what do you want to do today?

I decided it was time I had a day off work, the opportunity arose so I grabbed it and booked a couple of days leave.  I pondered whether to spend time in my garden, or to take advantage of an extra day on the weekend and go garden bothering.  Garden bothering won.
So I went to Long Close Gardens in Woodhouse Eaves which is open daily for the NGS.  You pay by honesty box, which is a fine tradition and one I love to see as it shows that people still have faith in the innate goodness of people.
It is a large garden, and you are greeted by a large, formal, sweeping lawn ends at some stone steps and these knot gardens.  The box is accurately clipped and the simple design is very effective.  I have a sort of knot garden at the front of my house, but because I could only afford young cuttings three years on it is still not quite knitting to form little hedges.  One day it still won't look as good as this.
Down the steps leads to you to another formal lawn, surrounded by flower beds.  The garden is built on quite a slope and is cleverly terraced so that you travel down the garden hardly noticing the changes in level, until you look back.
The flower borders hide the change in level well.  I liked this technique very much.
The planting is good.  I love these Cleomes, a while ago I tried to grow some from seed and failed miserably.  A then colleague who hailed from California thought I was mad to grow them, she said they were weeds as far as she was concerned.  Proves the oft said cliche, weeds are just plants in the wrong place.
Through an almost hidden gate is Pene's Potager.  Again the box edging is beautifully clipped.  The beds are filled with some vegetables and also a collection of Penstemons.  There appears to be something going on with Penstemons in Leicestershire, its the second NGS garden I've visited this week that have included a collection.  I quite like them, but not sure I love them that much and now I am scared that if I buy one suddenly I will going the Leicestershire trend and end up with a collection.
In true classic style you are drawn down these paths to see what is just beyond your sight.
There is a third terraced lawn.  Again edged by good planting.
This hedge shows the drop in level you have just walked, just cleverly disguised.
There are statues.....
..... and gazebos, I really like the red Bishop of Llandaff dahlia at the side of this, it shines some colour into the area.
There is some wonderful colour dotted around, these agapanthus are an amazing blue.
There is a real feeling of exploration.  From dark into light.  The garden is now getting more wild, with areas of long grass, some of which that have recently been cut back.
There is a wildflower meadow, apparently not ploughed in living memory, but it had just been cut so I missed that at its best.
The trees and shrubs are wonderfully mature.  There are lots of conifers, many look like the remains of a Victorian collection.  I am not a fan of conifers particularly, but these have the space to grow and are not the bog-standard pyramid types so it felt like they belonged.
The garden gets increasingly damp as you continue onwards.  There is a small stream and some ponds, all of which look virtually dry in this drought year we have been having, but the planting remains lush and happy looking.  I loved the play of dappled light on these leaves.
There is an almost meadow of Gunnera.  A huge patch of it and it is such a stunning plant.  Mine died in the winter and this just made me want to get a new one.
When arriving at the Gunnera I realise I have circled around.  I am now at the bottom of the third lawn, which is edged with a long border with wonderful late summer colour.
There is beautiful bark, peeling away paper like and gleaming in the sun.
There are lovely berries giving an early Autumn feel to this part of the garden.  The leaves are starting to turn in some areas.  As I drove home I was astounded at the amount of orange fallen leaves on the roads.  The drought has made leaf-fall come early.
The maturity of the planting is evidenced by the beautiful twisted trunks of the rhododendrons.  I sometimes think that their tangled growth below is more beautiful than the blousy flowers above.
I think that I am not alone in this, but I do enjoy not seeing perfection in these gardens.  There is nothing wrong with this border, but it is not immaculate and fully planted.  To me this is showing a garden that is real and not one just designed for show.  I went to another NGS garden on Sunday.  It was truly immaculate, there is no other word that could describe it.  There was not a lawn weed, not a razor sharp clipped edge and not a weed to be seen.  Its perfection made an untidy gardener like myself a little uncomfortable, it felt like this was not a garden to be enjoyed, but one to be kept perfect for the visitors above all else.

However on saying that, most of the garden was beautifully planted and this was clearly just one bit that wasn't up to the usual standard.
As I thought I was just about to leave I looked to the side as I had nearly missed this small quiet place.  Literally next to the gate as you leave the main garden.  The large pot is a gently trickling water feature and it is shady and peaceful.

This is not an innovative garden, it will not show you anything that you have not seen before, but this is not a criticism.  It is a peaceful and tranquil garden, helped hugely by it being a Friday when I visited and no one else was there at the time.  I came away thinking that I needed more hydrangeas and wishing that my planting was a mature as theirs.
Compared to Ferris Bueller my day might not have seemed that exciting, but I enjoyed this garden visit very much and realised that I do need to get out more and visit more gardens.  I am compiling a list......

1 comment :

  1. Very enjoyable read. I totally agree with your comments about gardens and perfection.

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