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.)