Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not having a pop at the weather, as whilst the morning chill has arrived, most of the days have been warm and perfect for ploughing through jobs in the garden. Skies too are treating us to some stunning sun ups and downs, and the waxing moon floating through the sky last night was just like a snow white magnolia petal on a still pond – simply perfect.
Putting aside those seasonally appropriate melancholic thoughts for the moment, it’s been a pretty swift couple of weeks since my last journal entry. However, I’m relieved to say that I did manage to enjoy a much needed week of annual leave. I hadn’t planned too much activity as I knew I needed to rest up, such has been the pace both at work and home in recent weeks, and what with fuel shortages, I was glad not to have planned any major trips. (What fuel shortage you might say?!)
Still, I did manage to escape for a while for a brisk walk around some of the garden at Hidcote Manor which was looking brilliant in the sunshine; ‘twas a real boost to an otherwise mellow week. We’re so lucky to have such a quality garden so close by, and the flowers near the glasshouse and pond area were positively beaming. Put it this way, if the NT could charge per photograph taken, I’m sure they could run a good few properties on Hidcote photos alone!
On a serious note though, I do have to praise the Hidcote team for allowing the garden room area by the Italian shelter to be used as a Silent Space. If you know me at all you will understand how much the initiative means to me, and to see it brought into such a quality and intimate location is really special. I also hope that by now you’ll have managed to sit in at least one of the Silent Spaces that are popping up all over the place, or have discovered the calming and thoughtful articles posted to the Silent Space website – either way, it will have been time well spent.
The Italian Shelter is a charming space with a really calming effect. Benches are positioned beneath a carved wood and thatch shelter, its walls adorned with Trompe-l’œil style artwork and artefacts, and large fern-leafy containers stand across aged terracotta tiles. As I paused there a family group strolled into the space and one chap stopped to read the chalkboard. Putting a finger to his lips he announced to his group “Shhhh, it’s a Silent Space!”
There was no need of course, except for comedy effect, as the space itself has such a special atmosphere. I find that whenever I turn away from the circular pond and walk through the hole in the tall yew hedge, I instantly feel like I’ve arrived somewhere special and it’s time to take a seat and breathe. When I do take time to stop there it’s pleasant to just sit and be, and the coming and going of people just adds a sort of relaxed animation to the space – it’s a great Silent Space indeed!
Achy Arm Time
My it’s a busy time in the garden, with numerous tasks needing to be crossed off the garden to-do-list. At work, there has been some harvesting of produce grown in the Tudor Villagers Garden with leeks, radishes and beetroot being top of the list. Apples have been picked for sale, and the orchard wild flower sward has been cut and cleared.
Tender plants such as Aeoniums and Pelargoniums have been moved into a cool glasshouse for a while, with growth from the latter used as cuttings for bedding schemes next year. There have also been cuttings taken from an old English lavender hedge we’re planning to restore, which if successful will be grown on for use in the next year or two.
The team have also made inroads into cutting back herbaceous growth, but of course it’s something of a tapestry as some things are still looking good, a lovely white Penstemon and Love-in-a-Mist to name but two. Whilst it would be so easy to zip through hardier plants with some shears, I do like to retain some with interesting forms and also, importantly, to offer winter refuge for insects.
The big job of the moment though has to be the annual trimming of the yew hedges. They’re all important to a formal garden such as Sulgrave Manor which relies on their neat form as green walls for each garden room. Sulgrave’s garden was created almost at the same time as Hidcote, mentioned above, but by architect and designer Sir Reginald Blomfield who detailed the hedges and their specific heights in his master plans.
Today, whilst the nearby borders have evolved somewhat, the hedges continue to reign supreme and carry out their intended role just as Blomfield intended. My role, as custodian of these significant plants is to ensure they’re healthy a well presented, and to continue the century-old cycle of trimming and shaping. The task will go on for a few weeks at least, and I can confirm that it tends to make your arms ache a bit…
Due to my waffling I’ve run out of space for my observation section, but will be back next week with a new post about a subject very close to our hearts. Until then I’ll thank you for taking time to read my garden journal, and I hope you’ve been inspired in some way by my gardening ways.
Gary Webb, Gardening Ways
Link to Silent Space Hidcote