Come with me. Come with me into the walled garden. It doesn’t belong to us – it’s our landlord’s. But it’s his joy, and his joy to share it with us. We can see it – look – from our kitchen window.
So whenever the weather’s on our side, as it is today, that’s where we’ll be.
Where shall we sit? Here? Right in the centre, where there’s space for friends as well?
Maybe here at the side.
Or tucked away at the very back.
Here there is utter peace: the flowers and shrubs, the main events changing now from high summer to autumn: the bees, fuzzing and humming in the background: the background birds – perhaps a skein of geese will fly squawking overhead on their way to our local nature reserve, then onward, onward to their winter residence.
It’s our magical place. It’s where all thoughts of the dire state that our country is in are banished, and we live in the moment.
We’ll still be able to get our weekly bunch of flowers come the Revolution (Brexit). We shan’t need to worry about just-in-time-deliveries via the Dutch flower trade. We’ll carry on just as we are, strolling to The Secret Garden, just outside Ripon, to choose a bunch of just-picked seasonal blooms.
On Saturdays, as you arrive there, you’ll find a somewhat retro caravan – this one.
Look inside, and there are jugs and buckets crammed with bunches of flowers chosen and gathered by the Secret Garden’s owner, Victoria Ramshaw. Every bunch includes a mix of varieties that complement and enhance each other. Every bunch was picked the previous day and plunged into water overnight to be ready to arrange, tied with raffia and presented in a twist of brown paper. Pick one up… then another …. it’s hard to choose….
Now you’ll need to go and pay. Wander up the garden to Victoria’s hut, and enjoy a chat with her. Listen to the River Laver as it tumbles and jostles alongside. Watch the butterflies and listen to the bees. Spend time looking at the flowers. Enjoy the moment, even though the garden’s now just past its best and a bit end-of-termish. Take your flowers home, and as you look at them, you’ll remember the pleasure you had choosing them, and taking a few moments out from the daily round.
It sure beats cramming a bunch of chrysanthemums into your trolley as you do your weekly shop.
In this most dreadful of weeks for British politics, I think we all need a distraction. Just now, this is it. Back in France, one of the regular pleasures of our late summer was a visit to Le Jardin Extraordinaire, open for just a few days every year as the holiday period drew to an end. Let’s go there now, courtesy of a post I wrote in 2013 …..
September 4th, 2013
Le Jardin Extraordinaire, 2013 version
Le Jardin Extraordinaire is always comfortingly familiar, yet always surprising. If you’ve been once, you’ll go again, on this one weekend of the year, to enjoy strolling round this very special wild, yet bewitchingly tamed garden. The members and volunteers of Artchoum have been working for months to create this space, just for your pleasure.
You’ll want to explore the riverside walk and exclaim at the enchanted place they’ve created with stones, trees and flower petals. You’ll go on to wander through the leafy tunnels and arches tumbling with gourds. Then you’ll amble off into the woods, where more fantastical experiences await you.
You’ll go in through a flower-filled meadow…
… then this …
…don’t forget to glance upwards.
Who’s this in the water?
An enchanted river.
A flower garden in the river.
Arches in the river.
Doorman at the river’s edge.
Last glimpse of the riverside walk.
A tunnel of gourds, topped by a sunflower.
Wandering through the gourd tunnel.
..and a little further..
… and further still …
Etched gourd in the garden.
Shower bath anyone?
View past a woven sculpture.
Look among the trees….
View from the top.
Bison on the hill.
Bison close up.
Bison’s stamping ground.
…. and their puppets…
Storks at the refreshment area.
People come from miles around to explore, smile and wonder at this very special place. But although you won’t be alone, there’s a relaxing feeling of space and of peace too. You’ll go away refreshed, invigorated and joyful.
Click on any image to view full size.
An entry for Jo’s Monday Walk. It’s an old walk Jo. But sometimes the old ones are the best. And I hadn’t ‘met’ you then.
One of the pleasures of the garden is that it changes – every single day. Walk there daily, and you hardly notice as one plant quietly ends its moment in the sun, while another comes into vigorous life.
Visiting a garden less often, you notice those changes. Back in June at Harlow Carr, we walked among banks and beds crowded like this…..
A month later, they were gone. Instead, we meandered among beds thronged with these……
But I escaped the sights of the garden for a few moments in the Victorian potting shed. Looks at how these tools have changed over the years! Once sparkling and sturdy, now they’re dulled by rust and years of use. And yet ….. if I set out to buy a set of garden tools today, I’d be choosing ones that look very much like these. You can’t beat a functional design that’s stood the test of time. My plant labels might not look half so elegant though, nor my pots so characterful.
We’ve had Team London here this week: an engagingly exhausting three year old and his baby sister make great company, but we’ve had a tendency to disappear to our beds not long after they do, and be snoring sweetly by 10.00 o’clock at the latest. However, in among exploring York, farmyard life, a canal, and the Wild Woods at the bottom of the garden, we had a day at Harlow Carr, the RHS gardens in Harrogate.
It provided William with plenty of Things to Do Before he’s 11 3/4: roll down a hill; go barefoot; watch a bird and have fun with sticks for instance. He and Zoë were very happy.
But for us, despite their bright enthusiasm for all there was to see and do, it was a green oasis, a haven of peace. We were content, strolling along the quiet paths, or beside a stream, sharing our space with bees, butterfies and birds.
I couldn’t be doing with pink when I was younger. I thought it was an itsy-bitsy sort of colour, suitable to be worn by annoying little girls of the Violet Elizabeth Bott persuasion (You do know who I’m talking about here, don’t you? Violet Elizabeth was the lisping, spoiled creature who tormented Richmal Crompton’s delightfully grubby-kneed and accident-prone Just William, as popular now as when he was first created in 1922).
I declined to dress my young daughters in pink, or to wear it myself. I despised its sugar-sweet prettiness.
These days I’m rather less hardline. I even have a raspberry pink shirt.
All the same, I think pink is happiest in the garden. It’s here that flowers can celebrate the colour in all its variety, from the softest most delicate shades of baby pink through to vibrant, vivacious flamingo pink. Pastel pink. Shocking pink. And pinks that use flower names: cherry blossom; rose; fuschia; carnation; cyclamen; dogwood.
Here’s a picture gallery of May time flowers taken over the last few years. All of them are pink. And I like every single one.
Many of these pictures were taken in our garden; in our village; at Newby Hall; and at the Himalayan Gardens at Grewelthorpe. It’s my entry for today’s Ragtag Challenge: pink.