Gardens

Some of the wonderful gardens that we visit through the UK.

The Gardens of Boboli, Florence, Italy

Florence 2016, The Gardens of Boboli where you really do need to be wearing walking boots, thank goodness we were.  Of course its just more then a garden, its one of the greatest open air museums in Florence….The gardens are a spectacular example of “green architecture” decorated with sculptures and the prototype which inspired many European Royal gardens, in particular, Versailles.  My husband had read about the sculptures and this was the reason we were now visiting this amazing green oasis, after the heaving city centre and a bonus…..the rain had stopped.

The building of the garden start in the 15th century, the original fields and gardens were laid out by the Borgolo family, in 1418 the property was bought by Luca Pitti.  In 1549 the gardens were greatly enlarged and became the Medici family’s new city residence.

The gardens continued to be enrich and enlarged in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, becoming a wonderful outdoor museum setting, for both Roman and Renaissance statues.

When you reach the highest point in the garden, you can rest and look out over the amazing view of Florence and the surrounding country side.  Next stop is the ‘The Museums of the Pitti Palace’.

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The Dancing Trees of Killerton House, Devon

Storting through some photos, I came across some that I had taken at Killerton House in Devon, March 2016……where does the time go.  We were visiting the house, and I noticed there was a chapel in the grounds, so of course we went off to explore.  It took a long time to find the chapel, only because I had to photograph nearly every tree that I came across…….I think they are amazing, they seem to be frozen in time, dancing to an ancient ritual.  There are many ancient trees around the garden and park, including gnarled old sweet chestnuts that were planted around 250 years ago……I think they are best dancers 🙂

Valley Gardens, Harrogate, Yorkshire

In 2015, we had the chance to visit the Spa Town of Harrogate a couple of times, on one occasion, along with Eddie, my smallest dog, I spent an hour exploring ‘Valley Gardens’  We did’nt get to see the whole of the gardens, as Eddie has little tiny legs and has to walk really fast, so we just pottered along the walkways.  I could have carried him, but trying to take photos while carrying a little dog, is a complete no no, so we just ambled along while I took photos one handed.  I remembered visiting many years ago as a child, and was so glad the pavilion looked the same.

A little history…….The Valley Gardens Harrogate are English Heritage Grade II Listed gardens situated in regal Low Harrogate, which along with woodland, are known as The Pinewoods covers 17 acres.

The Valley Gardens Harrogate contain a greater number of mineral springs than any other known place – visit the area known as Bogs Field where 36 different mineral wells were discovered.

Valley Gardens was developed as an attractive walk for visitors to the Spa town, part of their health regime between taking the waters, and as a means of access to the mineral springs of Bogs Field. The waterside walk with flowers and trees became a place for promenading, socialising and taking exercise. Photographs of the gardens in the early 20th century testify to their enormous popularity with crowds around the tea room, boating lake and bandstand. The Sun Pavilion and Colonnades were built as an added attraction and facility for the spa, intended as the first phase of a covered way linking the Pump Room and Royal Bath Hospital. Visitors to the mineral springs declined but the horticultural reputation of the Gardens grew with the staging of the Northern Horticultural Society’s Spring Flower Show in the Gardens and the addition of special garden areas.

The Cherub Fountain
In 1972 a leading Harrogate Councillor was visiting the Chelsea Flower show, where he saw a sculpture created by a young Australian called John Robinson, the Councillor took it upon himself to order the piece, which was presented to the then Director of Parks, Mr Alan Ravenscroft, on the 23 May 1972, where it was installed upon a circular stone surround in the centre of the Valley Gardens.

 

The Sad End of Willowpool

 

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I have just learnt that my all time favourite garden centre closed in 2015 and is most probably a housing estate by now.  Willowpool Garden Centre, Lymm in Cheshire, was an experience like no other, it was like Alice in Wonderland gone mad, in a lovely English eccentric kind of way.  It was a labyrinth of a place, where crazy old antiques sat side by side with modern tacky reproductions. It had gorgeous old garden ornaments, that if we could have carried them home, would be in our garden now.  There were many different and really unusual plants, in lovely curious containers.  Buildings full of crafts to buy, wonderful little huts to have a bite to eat in, but that was back in 2012.  I am just so glad I made a record, it was winter, but the photos hopefully capture the wonderful weirdness of the place.  I hope you enjoy this visit as much as I did, and I will miss not being able to visit wonderland anymore.

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Clipsham Yew Tree Avenue, Rutland

In 2011 we found Clipsham Yew Tree Avenue, near Oakham in Rutland.  We were passing by, when I notice some topiary trees which seem to be in a garden.  Even back then, I had a habit of shouting stop…..nothing has changed there.  Once we had come to a shuddering halt, I got out the car to have a better look and then realised it was open to the public.  Meanwhile my poor long suffering husband found a small car park, parked up and joined me in the most surreal landscape…..I felt like Alice in Wonderland.  These trees are huge and looked as if they might all start waddling off at any moment, and then we saw that a lot were clipped to celebrate certain occasions.

The Avenue is a unique collection of 150 yew trees, most over 200 years old and was once the carriage drive to Clipsham Hall, the centre of the Clipsham Estate. The Hall is a grade 2 listed building and is still at the end of the drive, but is not open to the public.  The wonderful topiary was begun in 1870 by the head forester Amos Alexander, who lived in the lodge at the old entrance to the estate. The squire at the time was so impressed that he instructed Amos to cut figures on all of the trees along the carriage drive to his home at Clipsham Hall to depict items of local interest and record family events and so the Yew Tree Avenue was born. During World War Two the avenue became neglected, overgrown and was eventually restored after the Forestry Commission took over the site in 1955. New shapes were added, the current ones maintained, and the work continues on today, organised now by the government department, Forest Enterprise.  The best time to visit is at the end of September, after they have finished clipping the shapes back on the trees.  

Arduaine Gardens, Loch Melfort, Argyll, Scotland

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I really wish I could say ‘this is my garden’ …….in my dreams….well mine is a working process, there are similarities, its a garden 🙂  This beautiful garden is Arduaine Garden and it lies on the southern slope of a hilly peninsula that projects from mid-Argyll into Loch Melfort. The scenery in the wider area is mainly coastal and hilly, so to come across this wonderful green oasis is like visiting someones private garden.  There are twenty acres of a variety of different gardens, actually its amazing, because it does feel a lot larger.  We were lucky on the day we visited back in 2013, the weather had been so bad in the morning, that our ferry crossing from Oban to the Isle of Mull, had been cancelled. They couldn’t get the ferry to dock as the sea was too rough.  So, what to do, luckily I saw the garden on the map and by the time we reached our destination, we did get lost a few times, the weather had calm down and some blue sky appeared.

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The story behind Arduaine began in 1897 when James Arthur Campbell purchased three farms on the peninsula and named the estate that emerged as a result Arduaine, or Green Point.  He continued to develop the garden until his death in 1929, it stayed in the family until Edmund and Harry Wright, who were working on a garden at Appin, purchased it in 1971.  In 1992 the gardens passed into the hands of the National Trust for Scotland, who work hard to keep as it was meant to be, essentially a private garden and secondly a visitor attraction…… and I for one think they are doing a marvellous job.

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Now follows a visual guided tour of the gardens, its the route we took through the garden and hopefully we covered most, if not all of the gardens, and we had it mostly to our selves.  One point I should make, is there is a hotel just outside of the gardens, where we had a very nice lunch, over looking the loch……just incase you are ever passing that way.

Also this is a late birthday card for my brother, as I missed his birthday, and as gardening is his livelihood (he designs them in the States) and if he reads this post, he will enjoy it 🙂

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Bressingham Hall & Gardens, Bressingham Garden Centre, Norfolk

On our visit to Bressingham Garden Centre in Norfolk to have a look at the steam trains for my husband,  I got to look at the gardens and found Bressingham Hall a Georgian Mansion built 1760.  The Hall sits centrally on the site and overlooks the original Island Beds of perennials created by Alan Bloom in 1953, and was Alan Bloom and his family’s home.  You can stay in the Hall, for B & B, which was originally built as a farmhouse,  At the time of our visit in August 2015 the Hall and barns were having a major overhaul.

 In this 17 acre garden there are more than 8000 species and cultivars of perennials, grasses, shrubs, trees, conifers, ferns and bulbs to enjoy, some gorgeous river planting and sculpted conifers too.  I must admit it did make me want to redesign my garden and we came away with lots of ideas for next year.

August 2015