Plants

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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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

Tasty Norfolk Samphire

I have been asked by some friends what samphire looks like (I knew I had a photo somewhere)…..in reality it looks like a fleshy weed, but it taste wonderful, but so hard to describe.  You really have to taste some, so that you can join the samphire club and know we are are taking about 🙂  I found the following details in an old magazine, but I’m not sure its that easy to collect the plant anymore here in Norfolk, there must be special places, because I have never seen any in the wild.

MARSH SAMPHIRE

Resembling miniature cacti, marsh samphire is sometimes sold in reputable fishmongers, but by far the best way to get hold of these hardy plants is to pick-your-own at low tide. Take along a pair of wellington boots – it’s a muddy, but rewarding job. One of the best places to forage for samphire is on the Norfolk coast.

Elgood’s Brewery & Gardens, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire

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The locals in Wisbech, North Cambridgeshire are very lucky to have their very own brewery, Elgoods of Wisbech.  Not only is it a wonderful brewery to visit, there is also a four acre garden, with 200 year old specimen trees, plus herbaceous borders, a lake, rockery, walled gardens and a wonderful maze.  We paid a visit last Sunday afternoon as they were holding a Jazz Festival, it was the first time they had held one and it was very enjoyable  But the best part of the visit for me, not being quite as much a jazz fan as my husband, was the pure joy of having the gardens to myself.

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The Brewery stands on the ‘North Brink’ of the River Nene and has thrived for over 200 years.  Built in 1795 this classic Georgian Brewery and gardens virtually remained unaltered until the Second World War, when the beautiful Victorian garden was destroyed and given over to the growing vegetables for the war effort.  After the war the land was grassed over, but in 1993 some old photographs of the pre war garden came to light and a decision was made to re-landscape.  The wonderful ancient trees still remained, so the garden has taken shape from them and over the following years has become a truly wonderful garden that must rival the past.

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I had a lovely time just wandering about the garden in the sunshine and if you are ever in Wisbech visiting Peckover House, remember to make an extra visit to the Brewery and its wonderful gardens, you will not be disappointed.  Please check their website for opening times etc at www.elgoods-brewery.co.uk

Longest Summers Day At Ickworth, Suffolk

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We had to visit Suffolk today and when we had finished, we had sometime to visit Ickworth in Suffolk.  Ickworth is a park with a house and gardens and today it looked stunning in the sunshine.

This post is really to remind for me to do posts for Ickworth and the three churches and one castle that we managed to fit in on our way back home to Norfolk.  So we had a wonderful longest day in the the sunshine, it could not have been better, bet it rains tomorrow.