Touring With Friends-Ledbury And Hampton Court Castle, Herefordshire

Continuing with the trip across the pond travelogue, click to read part one here_Living A Dream-Meeting In Malvern, the second day found us riding along with tour guide, tall and slim Helen the Patient Gardener (UK). Helen had graciously volunteered to take several of us to see some local sights and gardens, us being Gail of Clay And Limestone (USA), Ewa of Ewa In The Garden (Poland) and Yolanda Elizabet of Bliss (Netherlands) and me (USA). She asked if any of us were Harry Potter fans, we all were, and took us to see a town that was featured in the HP films as Diagon Alley, a real place by the name of Ledbury. A clematis frames the building nicely.

Whilst every village we saw had the ancient and medieval look from times gone by, the black and white architecture of Ledbury was striking. This was indeed a very narrow alley, a perfect place to do some conjuring and magic wand selecting, not to mention stopping in for some butterbeer, (no we didn’t do that last one.) Ewa is doing something to that shrub, however.

But it was gardens we hungered for, and gardens we got. Next stop was Hampton Court Castle in Herefordshire, pronounced Hair uh furd shire, say it real fast, in case you were wondering. There were many diction lessons given and we will try to pass on any that come to mind. The large copper beech trees made a perfect curtain from which to view the parapets of the castle. A fine lunch of leek and potato soup, along with a creme tea, I am in love with clotted cream!, warmed and readied us for garden rambling.

Gail, Helen and Yolanda forged ahead to The Orangery Cafe where we had the above mentioned fortifying lunch before touring the gardens. It was difficult to not head into the plantings, straying from the 150 year old Wisteria Tunnel of the main pathway. It is true that I was scolded, slightly, for veering off from the group, but who could blame one with these surroundings to explore?

We found all of the large English gardens to be full of impressive vistas. Walls, paths and hedges were all situated to provide a perspective of depth and distance, very geometrical. This is the entrance into the Ornamental Kitchen Garden.

It was heartening to see so many young children at the public gardens we visited. Ruddy cheeked, curly topped and wellie wearing tots enjoyed seeing nature tamed as much as their elders,it seems. This little darling was getting in touch with her inner zen whilst walking the labyrinth stone pathway. The adults just walked right over it in their rush to see the garden rooms.

It was tulip time in England, long since past back home, and a joyous sight. The mixture of intense colors bounded by willow woven into attractive fencing in this garden was a sight that had us gasping with an overflow of inspiration. Gardeners take note of this for your own spaces.

Twigs and whips were used effectively as supports both useful and beautiful. These domes would allow the peony stems to grow through, hiding the branches and being held upright when in bloom. Another take note moment for those of you who have trouble with peony floppings.

Helen and Gail seek shelter under one of two island pavilions in the South Gardens. Hedges were well represented in every garden we viewed. Tall yews, smaller boxwoods and vertical accents helped define the spaces and offer winter interest. The amount of pruning involved to keep everything neat and crisp must be monumental. There are staff of hard working folks behind the scenes, highly skilled with the tools necessary to keep things in order.

Seeing these small hedges outlining the cross shaped beds sparked an idea to add more boxwood to the knot garden back home, maybe to some other beds, for it gives such a tidy look to the plantings within.

A closer look within reveals plants we know and love grown in a new (to us) and exciting way. Snow in summer, Cerastium tomentosum is the ground cover for Alliums, most likely A. karativiense. Roses, probably white and some tulips finish the luscious filling. Gail’s tie belt sneaks into the shot at the far left.

This allium has been selected several times when placing bulb orders, only to be discarded at the last minute. The size of the foliage plus the low height, eight inches, had us stymied as to how this could be used in the Fairegarden. Now we know what to do with them, for the Cerastium is already here. Add it to the list.

There are several named areas of this fantastic place, but it was the Maze that drew us in and held us prisoner. I could hear the voices of the others, even see their shapes through bare patches of the yew framework, but had great difficulty joining them. After escaping from the maze, we caught a glimpse of magic through leafy dripping branches, the Sunken Garden. A pond and waterfall beckoned us.

Now this was the stuff of dreams. The roof of the rustic hut Thatched Hermitage, the mossed stones from the downward rushing water, ferns and water plants completed the perfect setting for an imagination to run roughshod over reality.

At the opposite end of the pond from the waterfall, some human perspective helps give an idea of the size of the Gunnera leaves. Helen, Gail and Yolanda look like small creatures in comparison to this mighty greenery.

The view from where the ladies were standing shows the scene in toto. As a pinch on the arm to brings us back to the here and now, note the orange life preserver hanging next to the waterfall. Too funny, it looks like someone has been playing with the pen feature on the photo program, but no, the orange lifesaver was actually hanging there. It must be mentioned that there was a tunnel leading from inside the Thatched Hermitage, totally dark. It was entered, hands feeling desperately for the brick wall to lead the way, with Yolanda just behind. Helen mentioned that it would lead back to the Maze. The dark plus the thought of the Maze brought us right back outside. Yolanda braved the darkness and was rewarded by coming up inside the Gothic Tower, climbing the steps to view the entire scene from on high, something I had tried to do while puzzling though the maze, only to find every door locked on all four sides of that same tower. Oh the irony.

This is a very condensed version of this magnificent garden’s charms. And to think that this is but the first one. Next up will be a crowd favorite, Stockton Bury.

The England trip posts: (There is a permanent page on the sidebar containing the links to the England posts as well. Click England Trip-Two Innocents Abroad to view it.)

Living A Dream-Meeting In Malvern

An English Country Garden-Stockton Bury

Batsford Arboretum With Victoria

Victoria’s Leap Of Faith

Sissinghurst Part One

Sissinghurst Part Two

Great Dixter-Finale


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40 Responses to Touring With Friends-Ledbury And Hampton Court Castle, Herefordshire

  1. Victoria says:

    That lifebelt is an eyesore, isn’t it? Welcome to the UK, home of beautiful gardens – and an obsession with health and safety!

    It was just hilarious to us, and the color! We miss you so much, Victoria. Hope you are ready for the next UK post, it will feature you! (Sans orange life preservers. πŸ™‚

  2. Barbara H. says:

    What a fantastic tour. I felt like I was there with you! Thank you, Frances.

    Thank you, Barbara. It was so nice to have you along with us, this was the kind of thing that needs sharing. πŸ™‚

  3. VP says:

    Dear Frances – oh how I longed to be with you all on the tour, but this is the next best thing πŸ™‚

    BTW I do like your lavender coat, but then as a wearer of a purple jacket all weekend I would do wouldn’t I? πŸ˜‰

    Dear VP, I wish you could have been with us as well, it was wonderful and so fun, much less hectic than the show at Malvern, although that was wonderful too. For you, this would have been a good cool down. Thanks again for all of your efforts to make this great, it most certainly was and we so appreciate you!!! And your purple jacket. πŸ™‚

  4. Ewa says:

    I think Jean mentioned very interesting point – your coat makes you clearly recognizable on any photo πŸ™‚
    What a lovely post bringing up memories from that beautiful garden – as I wrote on Gail’s blog, I loved especially some ideas in the kitchen garden.
    Frankly – can’t pick my favourite spot or garden – such a beauty and such harmony…

    Dear Ewa, that coat will live on in my nightmares! Well maybe not so drastic, but a lesson was learned from seeing the photos of others. The memories are wonderful and the photos will help keep them alive and crisp in the mind. The kitchen garden was so full of ideas, oh to have those walls and hedges! πŸ™‚
    x x x

  5. Carol says:

    An excellent tour, Frances. And I can’t imagine they had problems with your veering off away from the group. πŸ˜‰

    Thanks Carol, you would have loved it, so many ideas, lots for veggie beds. Helen was trying to keep us on track, but I can be difficult to control. I paid for it by getting lost in the maze however. πŸ™‚

  6. Les says:

    Did you suffer Gunnera lust?

    If only I had a large pond like that one, gunnera would certainly be in it. We have tried to grow it here, it died immediately.

  7. gittan says:

    It sure seems to be a fantastic place. Show me more!!! “lol”

    Thanks Gittan. That was a highlight, we were lucky to see the cream of the garden crop I believe. And rest assured, there will be more! πŸ™‚

  8. Gail says:

    Frances, Excellent photos~(You and your compact camera did a fantastic job!) I was back there in the gardens for a few wonderful minutes…Even the rain couldn’t take away my excitement~and I am craving cream tea. Let’s have it next time one of us ventures over the mountain! I called the Knot Garden Boundaried Exuberance~The allium foliage was fantastic against the ground covering cerastium. My must haves list after this trip is now a mile long. We might have some sunshine today, but I’ll have time to visit. xxxgail

    Dear Gail, I think the rain helped us actually, do you notice the lack of crowds that we saw at other spots on sunny days? The lure of cream tea is great, but I think you need to come here for a trip to Mouse Creek. I am still looking for clotted cream, but believe Eagle Brand milk might be a substitute. What do you think? Let’s get that Allium! Van Engelen has them and I have already cleared a space for them. πŸ™‚

  9. Randy says:

    The waterfall with moss and pond is the coolest landscape I have ever seen! You must have been in heaven. Enjoyed the tour!

    Hi Randy, thanks. When we spied the sunken garden, we ran as fast as we could to get to it, slippery rocks be darned! I took many more photos of this garden than any other.

  10. Valerie says:

    It must have been a magical place to visit. The photography was amazing. I loved the tour. Valerie

    Thanks Valerie, it was pure magic, especially the sunken pond garden with the waterfall, so hidden and lovely.

  11. I still like the lavender raincoat – if you visited wales you wouldn’t get lost on the mountains.

    So glad you enjoyed this garden

    Thanks Karen, not getting lost is or should be a high priority! Hampton Court and the hidden waterfall sunken garden was something I still dream about. πŸ™‚

  12. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    What inspiration you found here. I am so glad you posted some overall photos. One can get the ‘feel’ of the place. I can’t wait to see more.

    Thanks Lisa. I did try to take some long shots in addition to the vignettes that caught our eye. We were all a little worried about damaging our cameras since it was raining. Many of the shots have spots on them due to the rain. But the camera seems to be okay, I hope! πŸ™‚

  13. Absolutely beautiful place. Really love the moss covered rocks by the waterfall. Made me giggle thinking about all the “moss be gone” they’re selling at the local garden centres. Why would you want to get rid of moss when it can be THIS beautiful?

    Thanks Heather. I agree completely with you about how moss is presented as something bad by the chem-gardening powers that be that have control of the way gardens are presented on TV and media in the US. Shame on them!

  14. Wow, some really nice places! I like that twisted pathway for the kitchen garden area. Of course the knot gardens are awesome. I would love to see the wisteria walk when the growing season is in full swing!

    It was amazing, Dave. You would have been filled with inspiration there. As for the wisteria, nearly every garden we visited had it, just beginning to bloom. All was perfectly pruned, right to the main stems, like grapes. A good lesson for anyone trying to grow it. πŸ™‚

  15. sequoiagardens says:

    I know HC PALACE near London, and I thought HC CASTLE could not be it when you mentioned it last week. Never heard of this delightful garden. Your ‘escape’ from the tower makes me think of a Nelson Mandela quote I heard for the first time yesterday: “Braveness is only possible where there is danger” Bad girl! πŸ˜‰

    It seems there are two Hampton Court gardens, Jack, this one being the lesser known for it is out in the countryside, well worth a visit next time you are there. As for the quote, I am very sorry and ashamed for not venturing on with Yolanda. It will be a lifelong regret, and is actually against my usual instincts of onward! It was the maze that scared me back to civilization. πŸ™‚

  16. Jenny B says:

    I felt transported to a magical place just looking at your beautiful photos–I can only imagine what a fantastic experience it must have been for you…all that lovely moss. And the Gunnera–amazing!

    Thanks Jenny, I am so glad you could feel the magic through these inadequate words and images. It was quite an experience and a favorite of the many memories from England. πŸ™‚

  17. Kat says:

    Gorgeous photos. I love the swirl pathway in the kitchen garden. And dang, the Gunnera looks amazing there.

    Thanks Kat. The rain had some affect on the photo and the photographer, but the gardens were so beautiful, the magic still shows. The gunnera was larger that life. I planted some here, in our dampest soil, and it died within days.

  18. I need to be pinched too after seeing all your fabulous photos Frances! What a great tour! I am captivated by the wisteria tunnel and the waterfall and pond next to the hermitage. Enchanting!! It is wonderful to see two perspectives … yours and Gails. Looking forward to the next installment! ;>)

    Thanks Carol. There was wisteria like that at every garden we viewed, ancient and properly pruned, just ready to burst into bloom. It makes me want to try it again. Gail and I have some of the same shots and some different. She ran out of batteries just as we went to the sunken pond garden at Hampton Court and was quite discouraged by that. Mine ran out at the next garden, Stockton Bury. We just took so many pictures! πŸ™‚

  19. This is one of my favourite gardens for children and it’s really not visited or well-known enough – still, now it’s featured here, I expect to see coachloads turning up on a daily basis! Also, I think you should write the official English/American translation book. Dx

    Hi Dawn, thanks for stopping by. It was a pleasure to meet you and you might be featured, as D only on the biscuit taste story on the Biscuit blog at some point, just as a warning! We were glad that Hampton Court was not crowded, such a plus for enjoying and photography, but it really should be a must see for all who love beautiful gardens. We did have fun with the language. πŸ™‚

  20. Oh, my, I’m speechless. Thanks for sharing.

    You would have loved it, MMD. Put this one on your bucket list. πŸ™‚

  21. Benjamin says:

    Ok, Frances, I’m going to tell my wife right now we are going to Europe even if we have to take out a loan to do so. This brought back so many memories from my three trips to Europe when I was in college (I figured I should live then, but now I figure I need to live again!). Your trip looks fantastic!

    Thanks Benjamin. When we checked the flight rates, coach was only slightly more than flying to Buffalo, amazing as it might seem. We lucked out on the lodging, staying with friends and splitting the Bed and Breakfast with five others really helped to keep it affordable, or we would not have been able to go. You do need to live again. πŸ™‚

  22. Wow, sometimes it takes an American to teach you about the things you have back here. Hampton Court (this one, not the one where they have the flower show) is right up there on my ‘must-visit’ list.

    Those tulips against that woven willow fence are to die for.

    Wonderful photos, Frances, and lovely to hear you were well looked after post-Malvern by us Brits!

    (Incidentally on the pronunciation front – I had no idea that Herefordshire was a problem. The one we all rather cruelly laugh at you guys for is Leicestershire. Or LES-ter-shur as we say it here. So now you know.)

    Thanks Sally, it was a delight to meet you! Hampton Court, the lesser known one was perfect in every way, and the lunch and tea at the cafe, The Orangery was superb. We were so well taken care of, it was like we were the royalty! We have always said it Lester, so now will add another syllable. lol πŸ™‚

  23. Lola says:

    Oh, another day of beauty. It is awesome. I’m so glad you are sharing it with us. They must have many care takers to keep it looking so neat.
    It is truly awesome.

    Thanks Lola. The hedges alone must keep several workers busy all year, most required ladders for they were quite high. As for keeping the yew maze trimmed, not a dream but a nightmare! lol

  24. easygardener says:

    Typical that you have seen the gardens and I haven’t despite living over here! Glad you enjoyed the tour – pictures are ok but the real thing is much better.

    Thanks EG. The pictures don’t do the garden justice. Do try and go, and be sure and have some tea at The Orangery! We have Helen to thank for choosing our destinations. She is a wonder! πŸ™‚

  25. Joanne says:

    I am embarressed to admit I had never heard of Hampton Court Castle. I have only been to Herefordshire a few times so enjoyed your introduction to such a lovely place thank you Frances

    Thanks Joanne. We found Herefordshire to be perfectly charming in every way, thanks to the brilliant Helen. Do try and see this Hampton Court if you can, it was a joy. πŸ™‚

  26. Lythrum says:

    Can I just say that I *love* that winding pathway? And the waterfall? Hm…I need a bigger backyard!

    Hi Lythrum, thanks for visiting. The pathway was wonderful, as was the little sweetheart in her rain gear and curly blonde hair. As for the waterfall, what you said is exactly what I was thinking as well! πŸ™‚

  27. Barbarapc says:

    It’s like herding cats taking garden lovers on a tour of such a spectacular garden. You just want to see everything all at once. Isn’t it wonderful to see how children seem to know exactly what to do when they come upon these lovely magical pathways the same way they alone can appreciate the splash of a mud puddle.

    HA Barbara, herding cats is a great metaphor for us, cameras at the ready, sprinting out to view the gardens. There were many young ones at Hampton Court despite the rain and cold, enjoying tea inside The Orangery when we were, they were so beautiful with bright pink cheeks, but it wouldn’t be right to take their photos. This one was okay, I believe. Aah, youth! πŸ™‚

  28. Pam/Digging says:

    Keep ’em coming, Frances. I’m so enjoying your (and the others’) posts.

    Thanks Pam. Glad you aren’t bored, yet, with the travelogue. There are so many photos still in the files that need to be shared. πŸ™‚

  29. I enjoy visiting castle gardens very much. I have not had the opportunity to visit this one though. Your pictures show how beautiful it is. I love the brightly colored Tulips.

    Hi Noelle, thanks for stopping by. This was our first castle and we found it delightful. If you ever have a chance, do see this one, and remember it is not the one just outside of London but rather is out in the country by Malvern in Herefordshire. πŸ™‚

  30. I love seeing all the different photos everyone has. The British are so civilized when it comes to having a little tea before or after garden touring, aren’t they? Hampton Court has been on my garden tour list for a while and now I know how worth it, it is.

    Thanks for visiting Jean. I love seeing the photos everyone else has taken as well, another viewpoint. This is not the famous Hampton Court near London that has a garden show. It is near Malvern in Herefordshire, just so you know. I do want to make sure you go to the one we visited, it was a wonder! πŸ™‚

  31. Rose says:

    You’re a great tour guide, Frances! This garden is amazing and oh so beautiful. Together with Gail’s and Helen’s photos I almost feel as if I had been there myself. By the way, Helen has a full-frontal view of the infamous raincoat:) The maze does sound rather frightening, but I’m most interested in the creamed tea that everyone mentions.

    You are so sweet, Rose, thanks. This garden was amazing, a good first stop to give us a taste of what all the fuss is about in England’s castle grounds. Simply incredible. Oh that raincoat haunts me! lol The cream tea includes scones and is served with a very thick, thicker than heavy whipping cream but similar. It really helped warm our bones from the wet and chill and was such a treat, like we were royalty with the tray, teapot, etc. In fact, there were so many dishes on our table that Ewa and I had to move to our own table to make room for everything! πŸ™‚

  32. VW says:

    That sunken garden IS the stuff of dreams! Love the gunnera and moss. I just ordered some peonies that aren’t supposed to need staking to stay upright – we’ll see if they live up to their billing or if they need pretty twig supports like the ones in your picture. And it seems that I tried clotted cream with hesitations a while back and fell in love, too. It’s especially good with huckleberry sauce.

    Hi VW, thanks for visiting. The waterfall and pond was a vision, for sure. As for the peonies, I don’t stake mine as they are planted very close to each other with shrubs forming a boundary that helps hold them upright. But I loved the twig domes and might give them a try next year, for peonies and other things. I believe Eagle brand milk is similar to the clotted cream, no need for added sugar then. πŸ™‚

  33. islandgal246 says:

    I have been to the UK two or three times many years ago. I have never had the time to visit the beautiful gardens. Well you have given me the inspiration to do just that. Now this is what I call a holiday with a purpose! It is fantastic that bloggers can meet up face a face and enjoy each others company. What a fabulous moment in time!

    Meeting other garden bloggers has been nothing short of miraculous, you immediate have something in common and they are always so very nice. Seeing the English gardens has been a dream come true after years of studying photos in books and magazine. That style has drawn me to serious gardening from the beginning. Do go and see the gardens there! πŸ™‚

  34. Hi Frances

    Your photos do it justice. Love the water features. Gunnera always seems to do well in the UK. Those low growing alliums have Knot garden written all over them.

    Thanks Rob, have you been there? The moistness of the UK helps us understand why the gardens look at they do, so different from our hot and dry, at times. The alliums will be ordered and the Cerastium will be the ground cover, that plan is set in concrete. πŸ™‚

  35. Racquel says:

    Wow you took some great shots, thanks for sharing your trip with us Frances. I love the Harry Potter village, the waterfall, the wisteria tunnel…so cool. πŸ™‚

    Thanks Racquel. I took a whole lot of photos, despite the rain. It was just too pretty not to capture on pixels. You would have loved everything. Do try and get over there some time, well worth the effort for garden lovers. πŸ™‚

  36. It was a fab day out with all of you. looking at the pics I see us all wearing coats so the weather must have been not that good but I hardly recollect it. In my memory it was sunshine all round. πŸ˜‰

    Sunshine in my memory banks as well, YE. It was so fun to be together to share in the experience. Helen was an ideal guide and the company was spectacular. Leather pants and all. πŸ™‚

  37. Diana says:

    Oh, how I wish I’d been there. But your beautiful photos make me feel almost as if I were there. Sounds like you had a wonderful time.

    I wish you had been there as well, Diana, and all the rest of the American garden bloggers, and those world wide! It was a gardener’s paradise, all of it, and the people were so welcoming and gracious. If you ever can find a way to get there, please do so! πŸ™‚

  38. Rebecca says:

    I SO appreciate seeing this fascinating garden through your eyes and descriptions. I especially like the stone and brick features that seem to anchor the site in history, making it appear timeless/ageless.

    Thanks so much Rebecca. The buildings and walls did add much to every spot we visited, even on busy London streets. Nothing in the US compares to that medieval vibe. πŸ™‚

  39. Sandra Jonas says:

    Fabulous post! Felt like I was sharing the experience. Are there plans for next year?

    Thanks Sandra, glad you enjoyed the tour with us. Helen has already offered to be a hostess again, so it sounds like there will be a second annual Malvern Meet! πŸ™‚

  40. Elizabeth McLeod says:

    What a trip you had! The gardens, the flowers, the eateries and those Gunnera leaves….wow….amazing. Thanks once again for another Internet trip with you and yours.

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