Gardens:compare and contrast

I've known about the National Gardens Scheme for ages and have meant to go without ever making it happen. They open private gardens to the public for only one or two days and let you satisfy that glorious nosiness about other's lives you feel when you catch a glimpse of a garden through a gate or see into a lighted room when the curtains are open at dusk.

This weekend my elder daughter is staying. We had a lovely day yesterday odding about together, going to Bodnant (again! she wanted to see the laburnum walk) and chatting both idly and seriously about life. I stay with her when I go to London so it is not that I don't see quite a lot of her but she is always busy and there are always other people around so a private day is a rare treat. She told me how, as a child, she had always waited impatiently while I insisted on looking in estate agents' windows and tolerated being dragged round garden centres with much sighing and lack of comprehension as to why anyone would think either of these an interesting thing to do. Now she is thinking about buying her first house and finding herself becoming interested in plants and turning into her mother. "Not a bad thing, my dear" I say with a flourish. She laughs at me.

In the early evening we went to a large house about five miles away under the open gardens scheme. A huge Victorian house in a sweep of gravelled drive it stood in two acres of gardens at the foot of the Clydian hills. Something more different to our garden would be hard to find. We are much higher on the side of the hills, most of the land sloping and the scale of everything small and domestic, much left uncultivated and nettles and goosegrass always encroaching. We have large scale vegatables and fruit and old apple trees and bent yews.

This garden was divided into four large rooms by immaculate hedging. In one a beautiful lawn swept in front of the house and deep flower borders overflowed with roses and shrubs and mixed herbaceous planting, everything perfect to the last twig. Another area was a tennis court and nearby a perfect circular herb garden; another an area of woodland with foxgloves and aquilegias at the edges. My favourite room held some fruit and a gravelled area with box balls and lavender. Small apple trees were lined up across the centre of the garden and on the far side there were borders so full of paeonies it looked as if the garden was set for a summer wedding. Every time you looked out of the garden the hills were rising up, golden and green in the evening light.

We had a glass of wine and I bought some plants. It was lovely in a particularly middle class way which I don't really associate with this part of Wales. Ringing English tones and lovely manners and well behaved Golden Retrievers and everyone (including us obviously) being utterly charming.

It was a beautiful place and a lovely way to spend an hour on a summer's evening but also great to get back to the little house and the cultivation encroached upon by wildness and the warm wind. We made rainbow trout stuffed with thyme and sage from the garden and baked with sliced lemon, with new potatoes and salad and white wine. As it grew cooler we lit a fire and sat and talked until it was suddenly midnight and time for bed.

Comments

  1. Oh Elizabeth what a lovely day and your meal at the end sounds just like what I would like to eat. It's funny how we turn into our parents isnt it, for better or worse!

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  2. Hello Elizabeth and thank you for your lovely email which I was finally able to access yesterday. We have had all sorts of annoying problems but all seems to be sorted now (will I regret saying that!). Have just read through all your blogs to catch up and they are, as ever, wonderful. Never been to Bodnant but it is on my list. Your day with your daughter sounded precious and made me think of my own eldest, Lauren, who will be off to Uni soon. Desperately want to spend time with her alone and never seem able to. It is something I must address. Golly, sorry for overlong comment! x

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  3. I love seeing how everyone else does it - there are always ideas to 'steal', something that can be fitted in at home.

    I'm most envious of your afternoon.

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  4. That does sound a lovely day and a special memory too no doubt for you and your daughter. How precious, and you convey the picture so clearly with your words.

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend with her.

    warm wishes
    x

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  5. Sounds lovely, and like you, we have had a gardens open weekend in Brittany. I love seeing how other people have translated their ideas into planting.

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  6. Oh, another perfect day by the sound of it - and well-deserved too. Ikeep meaning to go to those gardens - it's another one on my to-do list for When We Move (otherwise known as WWM).... My mother-in-law helps out at some garden openings (for the Red Cross I think).....she said some of them are absolutely gorgeous - I must find out and let you know. janexxx

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  7. I love looking around other people's gardens - sounds like a lovely way to spend time with your daughter. And by the way, I'm sure she wasn't laughing at you, but with you - becoming interested in gardening is all part of growing into adulthood (if that doesn't sound patronising). Sounds like you had a wonderful day.

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  8. PS I've been inspired by your garden visit and done a blog tour of my own garden.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

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  9. Your garden visit sounded lovely but the description of coming home was even more inviting... you sound happy which is always good to read.

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  10. How lovely to visit a wonderful garden with your daughter - I hope when mine grows up we can share companiable days like that (rather than the present scenario, which usually ends with one of us flinging themselves to the ground in tears!). Food sounds great too!

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  11. lovely elegant sounding day. Makes me realise I mustn't side line my own children for they will be gone so soon.

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  12. Just caught up on last three - more bloggers meeting! The gardens all sound lovely, I am obsessed with local villages that have open gardens day, it's becoming a popular church fundraiser around here. I love to buy little plants to bring home. We have visited some spectacular gardens last week including Hidcote and Kiftsgate, just blissful.
    On the subject of hens, we fell in love with some in the garden of the posh B&B we stayed in near Cheltenham, both 'proper' hens and comedy little Bantams with frilly legs. Let me know how you get on because we're very tempted now!

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  13. Elizabeth, just popped back to say thank you so much for your kind comments about Dad, I hope it hasn't upset you.

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