Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Garden Visit: Avenues, Balls and Snowdrop Peeping

Lime Tree Avenue, Clumber Park
Part of the extraordinary 2 mile long Lime Tree Avenue at Clumber Park near Worksop
Once again I've found a garden visiting road trip is the perfect way to cheer up February, my least favourite month of the year.

I reprised part of last year's Snowdrops on Tour and added Clumber Park to my itinerary on Karen's recommendation. Just seeing Lime Tree Avenue, the longest in Europe with over 1,000 trees, ensured this part of my trip didn't disappoint.

Summerhouse and snowdrops at Easton Walled Gardens
Our refuge from storm Imogen at Easton Walled Gardens

My trip started with storm Imogen flashing and rumbling a warning at me, and thankfully a swift escape north and eastwards meant I missed the worst of her ravages. Despite that, Naomi and I were mightily pleased Karen had arranged for us to take refuge in Easton Walled Gardens' summerhouse for a picnic before we toured the garden.

Kokedama (aka moss balls) used for a hanging display of snowdrops at Easton Walled Gardens
As we were with Karen we were able to have a nose around doors which are usually kept closed, including the flower workshop.

Here Alexandra was busy getting arrangements ready for Easton's snowdrop event. I was particularly intrigued with these hanging snowdrop balls, created using a technique called Kokedama, from Japan.

It involves wrapping the plant in soil, followed by a layer of moss, then tying the bundle together ready for hanging, with string in this case.

If you'd like to make your own Kokedama, the link shows you how. When it feels light, soak the ball for 30 minutes (or until it feels heavy again) to keep the display looking fresh and more permanent.

A snowdrop tour around Easton Walled Gardens
Our garden guide was Easton's owner Ursula Cholmeley, which meant we could play Spot the dog again.
There were snowdrops and daffodils in combination, plus a 'giraffe' who wanted to see the snowdrops too.

We must have been in the calmer eye of the storm for our garden tour, because the drive up the A1 to Hodsock Priory in lashings of rain was horrendous. Luckily, the generous hospitality of the Buchanan family soon restored my jangled nerves.

An enticing clump of snowdrops - part of the collection rescued from Primrose Warburg's garden by John Grimshaw

Tuesday dawned fair and without a breath of wind; the perfect day for a spot of snowdrop peeping with Naomi, Karen and Alison. It was great to meet snowdrop expert John Grimshaw, listen to his insights and see which aspects of the garden caught his eye. Here's what caught mine...

Snowdrops and other winter garden delights at Hodsock Priory
Snowdrops and other winter garden delights. NB the snowdrops will be at their best for the next 10 days or so. 
Pictured snowdrop expert John Grimshaw tells the story of his day at Hodsock Priory over at his blog

This year marks the silver anniversary of the commencement of Hodsock Priory's snowdrop days, who were one of the first - if not the first - major snowdrop garden to start this popular activity.

George Buchanan (left in the picture) recounted it started with just one Sunday 25 years ago with a biscuit tin to collect entrance fees, a kettle, and much trepidation over whether anyone would come.

600 visitors gave them their answer and 'snowdrop day' now extends to 4 weeks. It was great to see the Buchanan family enjoying Tuesday's sunshine for their celebratory photo opportunity.

Some highlights of Clumber Park
Some of Clumber Park's highlights. I must return when the walled kitchen garden is open. 
Then I had a brief side trip on the way home to nearby Clumber Park. It's vast, which meant I only had time to trot round a small part of its 3,800 acres. It's well worth a visit despite the demolition of the huge country house which was once at its heart.

There's a pleasure garden with a collection of large specimen trees, a large serpentine lake which extends as far as the eye can see, and plenty of eyecatcher-style follies dotted around the grounds. There's a Grade I listed church too, which hints at the grandeur of previous times.

I can also heartily recommend the venison one pot stew I had for lunch. Charlecote Park's recipe looks the closest to the version I enjoyed.

Not bad for a couple of days spent 'oop north!

9 comments:

  1. Snowdrops en masse are always spectacular.

    We visit Clumber Park fairly frequently - it's also quite a good spot for photographing birds.

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    1. Hi Sue, yes I can see Clumber Park would be good for that :-)

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  2. A most enjoyable post, and lovely pictures. Flighty xx

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    1. Thanks Flighty, it was fun putting the collages together :-)

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  3. Interesting information, and beautiful snowdrops!

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  4. Wow. Just, wow. That is how I love to see snowdrops, in huge drifts under mature trees. The perfect antidote to February.

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    1. Thanks Janet, do you know of anywhere in North Wales which is good for snowdrops?

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  5. I can imagine all those 'drops would be most soothing after nerve wracking journeys. Both gardens look quite magical spots. I've seen examples of kokedama before but never with snowdrops. Now that might be a future project in the making:) Did you make any new snowdrop purchases VP?

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