Thursday 17 May 2012

Gardening Times

I must confess, I've long been a garden and plant lover. I would spend ages looking through seed catalogues, often ordering very little, but caught up, all the same, in the promise of what beautiful plants I could grow, with just a little earth, some water and, ideally, some sunshine. And I've always had a soft spot for nosing around other people's gardens, enjoying the National Garden's Scheme yellow book, and plotting routes to various gardens, both large and small.

The slightly milder May weather has encouraged me outside, specifically into other people's gardens. Neither of these two I recently visited are NGS ones, but both were opened for charity, which more than justified the entrance fees.

The first venture was to Saltwood Castle. It was raining, ever so slightly, and the sun didn't come out, but that kind of increased the drama of the place. That's what I told myself anyway. This castle is where the four knights who killed Thomas Becket stayed and plotted their deed, the night before he was murdered in 1170. Although only the grounds were opened, the castle is still standing, and so is the remains of what I assume is an old chapel, now open to the sky, and home to chimney pots and peacocks.

Chimney pots in the old chapel

It was a colder day when Sandling Park Garden was opened but, thankfully, the weather did improve and when the sun eventually shone, well, it was enough to make you stop for a cup of tea and a slice of cake. Oh yes.

These gardens were full, literally, of rhododendrons and azaleas. I've not visited a garden before which had so many, and in such a fantastic display. Corner after corner was rounded, and yet more stunning plants showed themselves. Some of the azaleas seemed to have no foliage and just consisted of flowers. No wonder I needed that cuppa . . .

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