This view over the gardens at Easton Walled Gardens always lifts the spirits. My previous two visits were at snowdrop time, so it was great go there again last week to see how the garden's progressed since I was there in the summer of 2012.
Easton's making a name for itself for its sweet peas, including the sales of packets of its own saved seeds, so it's no wonder Sweet Pea Week has just got underway at the garden. I was privileged to have a sneak preview, and let me tell you, the scent wafting over from these flowers was sensational (or should that be scentsational? - Ed). The humid air served to trap the scent and the prevailing wind wafted it over to us for an extra special welcome.
I usually go for the deep purple, richly scented varieties, but for some reason I was drawn to the pastel and red cultivars this time. 'Patricia Anne' is the sweet pea in the large photo, and 'Henry Thomas' is the red one. For some reason I didn't record the white one, despite remarking smugly to Barbara how much easier it is to keep a record with the advent of digital cameras. I'm such a numpty!
I was also drawn to this perennial sweet pea, Lathyrus rotondifolius, aka the Persian everlasting sweet pea. It's a much deeper colour than the perennial sweet pea I've grown before, with a shorter, tidier habit. I can see this growing on the short trellis fence which leads down to our shed. If you like the idea of growing perennial sweet peas, this article from The Telegraph gives you some further options to explore.
Garden owner Ursula Cholmeley's top tip is to grow a green manure crop of rye in the autumn, then dig it in the following spring prior to planting out sweet peas.
Of course, Easton has more than just sweet peas, so a stroll around was in order to see how the gardens have progressed since my last summer visit. The meadow areas are much more diverse, so the yellow rattle Ursula told me about is doing its job well. The borders have filled out pleasingly and there were plenty of planting combinations to admire - and perhaps 'steal' one or two. The roses were beginning to come into their own, with the pictured Constance looking most Spry ;)
Sweet Pea Week continues until July 10th 2016, and then the garden opens weekly from Wednesday to Friday, plus Sundays (and August Bank Holiday Monday) until 30th October.
Which special place has lifted your spirits this summer?