Sunday, 14 May 2017

A Laskett Afternoon

Way back in the mists of time, when this blog was still a seedling, I visited The Laskett with a group of twitter friends. It was an excellent day that started at The Laskett and ended up at Veddw.  I remember the day with great fondness (link to the write up about the previous visit is at the end of this post).  At the time I wrote about how much I had been looking forward to going to The Laskett but that in some ways it had not met those hopes.  Six years is a long time in gardening and I was very interested in going back and seeing if my thoughts had changed.  The visit organised by the Garden Media Guild was the perfect opportunity to return.
After spending a very enjoyable morning at Stockton Bury Gardens, written about previously, (link at the foot of this post) we set off for The Laskett.  Some things had very definitely changed; in the intervening period between visits Sir Roy has arranged to leave the garden to the horticultural charity Perennial so that it can be preserved.  Another change is that the garden is now more frequently open to the public (details are on their website).

The afternoon was far more changeable in its weather than the morning had been, we had sun, rain, snow and hail as we walked around, thankfully the showers were brief and it did not spoil the afternoon.
This visit, for me, was dominated by the topiary in the garden.  It was looking immaculate.  It had clearly been recently clipped and skillfully clipped at that.
If you don't like a lot of topiary this garden is not for you. 
The garden involves a lot of walks and vistas.  
Some of the walks feel quite enclosed.
but other spaces are quite open.  The sun light was just perfect on this day as it shone through the dark clouds.  It made the garden glisten.
The garden is also divided into set pieces, they are like stage sets at times which is unsurprising as Sir Roy's late wife and co-creator of the garden, Julia Trevelyan Oman designed film and theatre productions.
There are several structures in the garden and they do providing view points to sit and contemplate different areas.
These are big statement pieces and highly ornamental.  If you don't like a lot of sculpture and ornamentation this garden is not for you.  
You definitely have to like colourful statues.
There was a large change as this part of the garden had previously ended in a yew hedge, now this is opened up to this paved area.
I am not sure what this area looks like all year, it has been very cold recently so it might have containers on it during the summer.  If it was mine I think I would probably add some olive and lemon trees in containers to give it the full Italian feel.  
This piece is well known from the garden and it was at one time painted in the turquoise and yellow colours that I associate with Portmeirion.  There are shreds of paint still clinging to it.
The garden is not all busy busy, I loved this shady path with spring flowers that runs down one edge of the garden.
and I really like this nook that shelters a statue of Pan.  I like a good Pan statue in a garden.

This garden is, without doubt, marmite.  It divides people into those who like it and those who very definitely do not.  As I was walking around the garden with my friend who is a professional garden designer.  We had made the occasional comment about the odd weed; both agreeing that this is a very high maintenance garden and it must be really hard to keep it looking good.  If you go back to the 'stage set' comment, that helps as if you look up and along and not down and at the detail then you get  what I think is the intended effect.  This is not a collectors garden where every plant matters, this is about creating scenes.   If you are bothered by a weed or three, this garden is not for you.
This is the Muff Monument, Muff was their cat, what a lucky cat to have such a memorial.  My cats will now feel very hard done by they usually get a plant especially chosen in their name.

Then we reached this area and suddenly we were divided as we read this part of the garden very differently.  I liked this view, I like the stone lions and the topiary and the colours of the different hedges work well in my opinion.
My friend (professional garden person as mentioned above), looked and tutted as we moved forwards.  "This," she declared "is why lonicera is such a bad plant to use."  I was a little non-plussed as what she saw as an untidy hedge......
.... I saw as a shimmering golden haze effect that I thought worked really well.  I explained this and we walked back a few paces and looked again.  My friend could see what I meant, but was still disturbed by the shagginess.  I could feel her longing for some hedgetrimmers to sort it out.

Now, here's the thing, for all I know this was the next bit of hedge that needed trimming and it just hadn't been done yet.  Maybe the Laskett gardeners also think it is untidy and needing sorting out.  But I liked it as it was.

When I last wrote about the Laskett the group I was with were quite critical of the garden and, as stated above, I had felt a little let down by it as well.  There is no denying that it is a mix of ideas.  Some bits do work better than others, but it did feel like it was being maintained better than when I last visited.  It is still not perfectly manicured, but it was feeling more routinely tidied.  I return to my previous thoughts on this as I am certain I would garden differently if I was opening my garden.  I could show you now some dreadfully weedy areas in my garden but I can happily look the other way.  If people were coming to view the garden I would be far more careful in keeping all areas looking good.

The Laskett is also still progressing, Sir Roy is making changes and it does not have the 'set in aspic' feel about it, this is a real joy as gardens should progress.  Love it or not, at the end of the day there is only one person who has to love the garden and that is its owner, and he clearly does.

The morning visit at Stockton Bury Gardens is here

My post about my previous visit to The Laskett is here

12 comments :

  1. Replies
    1. Oh no, I'd have to get ahead of the weeding :)

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    2. My garden has many weeds - worry not - your garden is a treasure - I would pay to visit.

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    3. That's very kind of you xx

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  2. One of the few gardens that has a nice touch of whimsy to it, as far as British gardens tend to go that is.

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    1. Yes I agree, it has individuality

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  3. Such a shame I didn't realise you were on the same trip as me Alison. Would love to have said hello. Maybe we should wear name badges at these gatherings! Great blog and lovely pics btw.

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    1. Oh that is a shame - yes we will need badges next time :). Hopefully bump into you at another event soon.

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  4. You didn't mention current entrance fee. Is that because £12 seems reasonable?

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    1. I went on an organised trip so I confess I don't know what the entrance fee is.

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