Garden Portrait: Knightshayes Court

Garden Portrait: Knightshayes Court

Driving back from West Penwith to Shropshire takes around 5 hours. It’s a long journey and we usually stop after a couple of hours to stretch the legs and grab a coffee. Gilly the Lucid Gypsy who  lives in Exeter once suggested that we might like to stop at Knightshayes Court, a house and garden run by the National Trust which is about 5 miles off the M5 near Tiverton in north Devon. So far during our forays south the car has been full of ‘stuff‘ and on the return journey the weather has not been conducive to more than a quick pit-stop.

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However, last Sunday the weather was perfect albeit very hazy. I love the drive through Cornwall and Devon – Bodmin Moor, Dartmoor (which two weeks ago was dusted in snow) rolling countryside and glimpses of the coast. Time to visit Knightshayes. Arriving there we were surprised to find that they serve a Sunday carvery (between 12 noon and 2:30 pm) so of course we ordered one and devoured it with pleasure. Then time to walk down to the house and have a quick look at the gardens close to the house. Two hours later we returned to the car to continue our journey home(?) – at the moment neither house feels quite like home, more like impersonal hotels without the luxuries and with the hazards of falling over boxes!

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Apologies for the quality of these photos. For once I didn’t have my camera with me, but I did have a new phone and one that has a camera (My daughter is so pleased that I have finally got a ‘proper’ mobile phone and is already instructing me about ‘apps’) so I attempted to capture some of the delights of this place. The views in the distance over Exmoor, I imagine, were hazy but beautiful.

The house is beautiful with honey-coloured stonework around the pretty leaded-windows and the bright red doors and gates make quite a bold statement.

Spring flowers were out – purple crocuses, snake’s-head fritillary, blankets of pretty blue scilla verna and dancing daffodils of course.

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The light was clear in the woodland garden and backlit the hellebores perfectly. One or two magnolias were in flower too, though it is still early in the season for them.

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And the most fascinating aspect was the abundance of quirky animals in the garden

OK. I admit to breaking my own rules, but blame it on the restless one who challenged me 🙂

Thanks Gilly. A perfect stopping spot ❤

And more lovely walks can be enjoyed over at my friend Jo’s place.

Garden Portrait: Autumn Sizzle

Garden Portrait: Autumn Sizzle

Originally landscaped by Capability Brown in 1776 from surrounding woodland is Sheffield Park in East Sussex. A garden for all seasons, it is during autumn when it is at its most magnificent. Lambent tongues of orange, gold and vermilion burns brightly against a cobalt sky. Japanese maples, fothergillas (mountain witch alder), Liquidambar styraciflua (sweet gum), Taxodium distichum (bald cypressand Parrotia persica, the Persian ironwood, take on their seasonal finery to create a vibrant tapestry of rich shades to wow and dazzle visitors.

Meandering pathways

It is like walking in an Impressionist painting, the views and vistas are spectacular, including those that lead the eye to the imposing mansion built on the axis. Continue reading “Garden Portrait: Autumn Sizzle”

Garden Portrait: More from Nymans

Garden Portrait: More from Nymans

In the late 1800’s Ludwig Messel bought the Nymans Estate in the Sussex High Weald to make a dream family home.

The gardens were inspired by the influential writer William Robinson, and were filled with rare plants and colourful herbaceous borders. The man most responsible for creating the gardens that Messel visualised was James Comber, who became head gardener in 1895. Comber’s son, Harold, became a globe-trotting plant collector, bringing exotic plants back to England from South America and Tasmania. Today it is still a garden lovers’ home – a place to relax all year round and enjoy a peaceful country garden.

Map of the Gardens
Map of the Gardens

Rose Garden

The rose garden is a circular space formally divided into beds intersected by gravel pathways and surrounded by high hedges. In the centre is a fountain in the form of a rose with climbing roses on arches tumbling down around it. The best time to visit is probably earlier in the summer as by late August there were very few roses still in bloom. The gardens have been well known for growing old-fashioned roses, with rich, intoxicating fragrances and pastel shades, for over 100 years.

The House

Three generations of the Messel family have lived at Nymans, from the late 1800’s until 1947 when the house was tragically destroyed by fire. Subsequently the surviving rooms were still used, occasionally to entertain friends and as a base from which to run the garden. Today the ruined house still provides a romantic background for the garden and the remaining Messel Family rooms are open to the public. At the side of the house is a Forecourt Garden with a dovecote in the corner, steps lead up to the top where you have a lovely view over the courtyard.

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Dovecote
Dovecote

Rock Garden / Heath Garden

At the far side of the ruined house are the Sunken Garden, complete with Loggia, a Heath Garden and a Rock Garden which are an absolute delight.

A Glimpse of the house
View of the house from the Sunken Garden
Bench with the initial AR = Anne Rosse
Bench with the initial AR = Anne Rosse

June Borders

Obviously designed to look their best in June, these borders still have something to offer in August. Sedums and salvias compete with hydrangeas and helenium.

The June Borders (in late August)

I was delighted to see this lady drawing and painting the gorgeous sedum in the border.

Artist

And even at the entrance / exit the planting continues with a prairie style  garden which is made up of a mixture of herbaceous perennials and ornamental grasses. The style is naturalistic with swathes of planting blocks pioneered by the famous garden designer Piet Oudulf. Flowers, seed-heads and foliage all play their part in the design.

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More lovely walks can be found over at my friend Jo’s place.

Garden Portrait: Nymans

Garden Portrait: Nymans

Late summer and a break in the awful wet weather enabled me to pop along to Nymans Garden in West Sussex. My main reason for visiting was to look at the summer borders in the Wall Garden encouraged by Gilly of Lucid Gypsy and capture some of the late summer colours. Of course I couldn’t resist a peek into the Rose Garden or a potter around the ruins of the Messel family house and a quick stroll past the rock garden, but these will appear later.

But for now let’s just have a look at the luscious, late summer borders which are also being enjoyed by lots of insects:

Wall Garden Borders
Wall Garden Summer Borders

The Wall Garden is the most beautiful part of this garden. A former orchard it is formed from an irregular shape with two paths intersecting in the centre where a pink Italian marble fountain and pool is found along with topiary. The central path is flanked by the Summer Borders, mostly herbaceous annuals and perennials with some shrubs at the back. The path between the borders is quite narrow so you feel as though you are walking through a floral tunnel.

Mixed border

The borders are a riot of colours at this time of year. Bright yellow Rudbeckia and Helianthus; dark red and scarlet and yellow Helenium; deep pink Cosmos with a bright yellow eye; violet-blue Asters; deep blue Agastache; pink-purple Echinaceae; white Cleome; tall pink-mauve sedum and brightly coloured dahlias are interwoven with silver-leafed foliage and the striking forms of coleus.

Helianthus and Echinaceae Purpureae
Dahlias

An exquisite display. Thank you Gilly for inspiring me to pop (or should that be hop?) along to this garden. It was well worth the effort. And I got a chance to practice with the macro lens with all those busy bees around.

Garden Portrait: Godolphin

Garden Portrait: Godolphin

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I first visited the Godolphin Estate in spring 2014 and returned this year in early summer to see what the differences are. Located in a very peaceful part of west Cornwall, the estate includes the Leeds engine house and stack, the remains of the Godolphin family mine. The riverside walk and Godolphin Hill are popular walking trails and from the top of the hill you can see both the north coast (St Ives Bay) and the south coast (Mount Bay), and when you are tired of walking and exploring the ancient gardens with their medieval layout, then pop into the Piggery for cake and coffee.

In April the woodland leading to the house and garden is full of bluebells.

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The King’s Garden is the sixteenth century walled privy garden to Godolphin’s state room, the King’s Room.

In April it is a space filled with fresh greens, white and pink, borders of tulips, stocks and fritillaries. Magnolia trees provide welcome shade and cloud-like box hedging lines the gravel paths.

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In June blues and purples dominate with spires of lupins and foxgloves and delphiniums

Leaving this delightful walled garden you pass the stables and the house where a divine cobbled courtyard can be found behind ancient doors.

Here you enter the three remaining compartments of the original nine 16th century Tudor design.

In April tulips dominate. Big blowsy ones and unusual colour combinations such as white and green or yellow and green contrast with bright red camellias. The scent of stocks and wallflowers permeate the air close to the pretty blue door in the wall.

In June the borders are full of purple aquilegia, foxgloves, irises, poppies and roses.

And the Gardener’s Potting Shed is a true delight. Click the link for a look inside.

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