Garden Portrait: a water garden

OCTOBER is the month to share your favourite gardens.

(This month share with us what is special about your favourite garden. Why do you like it? When is it at its best? And how do we get there. Of course you may wish to share your own garden in which case unless you open it to the public, keep the actual location private. )

My next showcase garden is in the north-east of England, in the fabulous county of Northumberland. If you have never been to this part of the UK then you are missing a trick. Combine the beaches and castles along the coast with the sublime countryside and history of Hadrian’s Wall and you will have a wonderful holiday. A place I didn’t manage to visit on my holiday in the north some years ago was Alnwick. Famous for its castle and gardens and as we were going to be driving right past the town on the way to Edinburgh on the A1, it seemed daft not to stop over. So we did. Unfortunately this was when the weather decided to change. From hot and humid days with bright sunshine to dull, grey and misty. And the castle was closed for filming.  Not knowing whether we would return to this part of the country again we took our chances and headed to the garden after spending a couple of hours avoiding the rain by perusing the books in the equally famous Barter Books – a second-hand book store and café in a former railway station. More of that on Travel Words eventually.


On entering the garden you are automatically confronted by the water feature. Cascades lead up to a walled garden and every 15 minutes the fountains erupt. You can see from the background how misty it was, but fortunately for us the light rain stopped after half an hour so the camera could come out. Although it was September we headed for the rose garden, not expecting much, but we were pleasantly surprised.

A beautiful, slightly odd (fox and monkeys?) sculpture sits under a lovely metal arbour covered with climbing roses.

The roses were covered in rain drops, but most of them held their heads high.

And we came across the beautiful gate that I have used as the header image. Climbing roses complete with thorns and buds and lovely glass irises at the base. Don’t you want one like this? I know I do.


Heading up the cascades, peeling off sideways every now and then to discover other fountains, raindrops and views, we finally reached the Ornamental walled garden.


Again I wasn’t expecting to see much in the way of colour, but I was very mistaken. All the colours of the rainbow – and more – were present. Pinks, purples, reds, oranges, yellows, blues, whites and greens. The garden is laid out formally with a centre block where there is a pond crossed by a rill which leads to two other smaller ponds and fountains. The rest of the garden is laid out in beds, often bordered by Box, with pleached trees, obelisks, pergolas and sculptured slate pots adding height.


The formal beds lead you to explore

Plenty of colour and plenty of benches too. Which was good because it took a long time to explore this part of the garden. Around every corner was a surprise and pops of colour beckoned.

Quirky little sculptures from fairy tales are hidden in the planting. But the fairy tale attic was closed.

And a final look at the Cascades


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47 Comments Add yours

  1. Roses and raindrops – what a perfect combination, and such great close ups. I think I prefer the cascades minus the fountain: that first photo is spectacular. I also love the leaf and the blue door.

    My Warsaw garden is here. Like you I was surprised at the flowering.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I wasn’t expecting much on such a dull day, but we managed to spend 4 hours here! The fountains were very difficult to photograph, maybe better when the sun is shining through them. Jo might know, she has probably been here. I loved that blue door, it leads through to a path which then leads down to the ‘Fairy Tale Attic’.

  2. Those cascades are amazing. I was surprised too by how much colour we found in the gardens we visited and also in all the gorgeous flowering baskets everywhere.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Not so many years ago gardens were very much over by October. Some asters and hydrangea maybe, never roses, but really it was the turn of the trees to provide colour. Now we have asters, rudbeckias, helenium, autumn crocuses, canna lilies and all sorts of wonderful late flowering beauties.

  3. Colline says:

    Your images of the flowers are breathtaking Jude. The iron work in the gate is amazing – what artistry. It must have taken a long time to make.

    1. Heyjude says:

      It’s a beauty Colline, I love to see artistic work that is also functional.

  4. Anabel Marsh says:

    When we visited Alnwick in April we saw the castle but didn’t have time for the gardens, so this is a lovely substitute! We could peer through the main gate at the cascades and I remember the iris gate, but that’s all we saw. Next time!

    1. Heyjude says:

      It would be lovely to see it in spring and early summer – the roses would be spectacular then.

  5. Joanne Sisco says:

    You’ve proven that even a dull rainy day can be full of lovely discoveries. Clearly it was worth the stop! I would imagine that if you were there on a beautiful summer’s day, it would be packed with visitors so I think you did very well!!

    1. Heyjude says:

      I imagine it is packed in the summer so that was a bonus. It also stopped raining so I could use my camera and when you see the bookshop you will know a second reason for our visit 🙂

      1. Joanne Sisco says:

        Ahh, yes. The irresistible lure of the bookstore. I know it well 🙂

  6. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Isn’t the gate fabulous and I’m so glad the fairies have a door of their own. You’re right about gardens being planted for later in the season. The NT are pretty good at it too, they should be, they need us to keep on coming. This is a nice garden, love the quirky bits and the cascades are wonderful. I can put my link here can’t I?

    1. Heyjude says:

      The fairy door is gorgeous and yes, you can leave your link here. I shall be over to have a look at your garden now 🙂

      1. Lucid Gypsy says:

        You’ve already seen it sweetheart, the one I posted a few days ago!

        1. Heyjude says:

          Yup. Went and had another look anyway 🙂

  7. One of your best galleries yet!! A beautiful mood captured throughout 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      Ah, thank you Sarah. It was a joy to find the flowers on such a grey day.

      1. My pleasure Jude 🙂 Sometimes it’s better to photograph flowers on a more overcast day!

  8. Very nice with the mist and the raindrops, they add an unusual dimension. Cute frog prince!

    1. Heyjude says:

      There was a pumpkin with a glass slipper and a rat (was it rats that became the coachmen?) but my photo wasn’t very clear.

      1. Um, I think it was mice. Much cuter than rats! I didn’t notice that photo, though.

        1. Heyjude says:

          I guess I need to reread it! And I didn’t include it as it wasn’t very good 🙂

        2. ha, well, that would explain why I didn’t notice the photo! I’ve just canvassed the team at work, and they all think it’s mice too. A colleague Googled to be sure.

        3. Heyjude says:

          I prefer mice 🙂

  9. Robyn Haynes says:

    What wonderful gardens! Your photos made me desperate to visit. The ornate gate was marvellous and I loved the sculptures, especially the frog prince, although the monkeys and the fox were enchanting as well. . What plant was it that was covered in raindrops? The roses were magnificent too. Not enough superlatives for this one.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I had heard of this garden so glad to have to opportunity to visit it even though the weather wasn’t really suitable for a garden visit. But often this greyness suits flower photography as long as it isn’t actually raining. I think the leaf is Alchemilla mollis / “Lady’s Mantle.” The roses were a bonus – we saw so many in September.

  10. restlessjo says:

    Now you know this is right up my street, though it’s a few years now since I was there. You’ve done it proud, Jude. At some point I hope to catch up with your trip but the clans are gathering here and tonight we’re driving down to Doncaster Sheffield to pick Adam up. Just trying to stop the stomach churning before another long day begins. Sending hugs 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      I feel for you Jo. It won’t be easy, but I hope you have a day of celebration and good memories – I’ll catch up with you after Barca – hugs (( )) to you too, you probably need them more than me :/

  11. rusty duck says:

    This is a garden that is so on my list to see, fabulous shots!

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thank you RD, it is definitely worth a visit.

  12. The gardens are beautiful, and there is so much to see. I love, love the beautiful gate – wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a garden large enough to need a gate like that? I also love the fairy door! 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      You are right about the gate, one would have to have a large, walled garden to show it off in.

      1. Indeed. Now all we need is that big Lotto win!

        1. Heyjude says:

          Never going to happen – I don’t buy tickets!

  13. Hi Jude!
    The climbing rose gate is breath-taking!You have shot it so well! Seems like the entrance to a fairy tale! Also liked the Frog prince; would make an interesting sight.

  14. Dina says:

    Oh dear, now I have a very hard decision to make … Alnwick looks so amazing and beautiful through your camera! The English weather is fine. 🙂
    We are going up north in May and so far we have two days planned for the Farn Islands and Bamburg. I had already decided against a stop at Alnwick, because we are quite eager to spend half a day in Barter Books around corner. Now the girls have seen your lovely shots of the fairy door and course the say, it’s a must for us!! Jude made this photo especially for us to go there, so we are!
    Are you familiar with Barter Books, Jude?

    1. Heyjude says:

      I shall be writing a post about Barter Books soon Dina, we spent a couple of hours inside waiting for the rain to ease off before visiting the garden. The garden is about 1/2 mile from the bookshop. Easy to do both in one day. I am glad the girls love their fairy door 🙂

      1. Dina says:

        They love it! ❤
        We're looking forward to your report on Barter Books, Jude. Please give us a shout, we're packing for Norway and we miss so many posts being on the road. 😦

        1. Heyjude says:

          Won’t be for a while Dina, I’m writing about Barcelona for a bit before I get back to the England/Scotland trip.

  15. Liz D. says:

    Amazing pics. full of character and vibrancy! I miss the beauty of European countryside.

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