The Max Gate garden

Max Gate is the Victorian house that Thomas Hardy designed himself, and it's a great looking house. It's in Dorchester and was on our To Visit List during our stay near Swanage last Spring. It was a damp and grey day on our visit and so our visit started in the house, but there were many glimpses on the garden as we made our way around.

Looking past the jardiniere into the garden at Max Gate

It was the type of garden that was like our own domestic gardens. It was probably a bit larger than most domestic gardens, but what I mean is that it wasn't one of those grand and well manicured gardens. That's not to say it wasn't charming, it was, but it was quite normal, if you know what I mean.

One of it's endearing features was it looked like a normal garden

Almost as soon as we entered the garden we were at the potting shed, which you'll know is regularly my highlight of any garden. This one was small and it seems that Hardy wasn't such a fan as me, as it seems that a shed only appeared on the records in 1928, which is the year of his death.  I can't imagine that his dying wish was to build a potting shed, so I suspect someone took charge when they could.

Perhaps it was Bertie Norman Stephens, the gardener from 1926. This blackboard in the shed sheds (no pun intended) more light on the gardener and his tasks.


What was great though was you could actually get in the shed and have a nose around among the seedlings.

in the potting shed at Max Gate in Dorchester

And it was the first time I've seen peas hanging up like this, and it gave me an idea - as well as reminding me that guttering is great for peas.

hanging peas in a gutter - now there's an idea

You might be wondering how I knew these were peas, well the photo below gives that away.

This was how I knew they were peas!

Look closely and the guttering is pretty special too. It's not the plastic sort I have, and totally in keeping with a make do and mend approach to life.  There was also produce available for donations, just look at that rhubarb.

Veg for sale at Max Gate

From many parts of the garden you got a great view of the house. It's the kind of house that really appeals to me, one with nooks and crannies and plenty of architectural detail, and not box-shaped at all.  I'm sure the number of roofs and varying heights makes it a nightmare to maintain, but it's a good looking house.

the neat beds of the vegetable garden at the National Trust property in Dorchester

Hardy planted the trees to shelter the garden and gradually created a beautiful garden, with a croquet lawn and the Nut Walk and often he would walk along here every day.

The woodland walk in Max Gate garden.jpg

The woodland area was great to see as our garden has many trees, and its these gardens which give me ideas of plants to introduce in our garden, especially those that will add some colour interest. The bluebells were about to burst into flower, and the raindrops on the leaves just emphasised their lushness.

Bluebells threatening to burst into flower

It was here that I spotted a row of forsythia cuttings in a row and gave me the idea to do something similar.  I don't think my cuttings have made it, but I'm definitely going to try this again.  

I'll leave you with another shot of the house, it really is a good looking house isn't it? - and the recommendation to pop along and see the house and the garden for yourself if you're close by.

Looking back to the house from the woodland walk



Post Comment Love 23 - 25 February

Hello there and welcome to another #PoCoLo - if you were here last week then it was great to see you, if you're new here this week then you're very welcome.  Both Morgan and I continue to enjoy the posts you link up with us each week.

Usually, as you know, we'll host a Blogger Showcase - and we'll continue to do that - but this week that's taking a break. It's kind of an unplanned break, and down to my admin error as I somehow made February an even shorter month than it already is. 

Rather than shuffle our planned showcase list, which goes into the middle of May, we thought we'd take the opportunity to put a shout out to our regular linkers to remind you that we'd love to feature you too. 

So if you haven't yet taken part in our Blogger Showcase, and want to share more about you and your blog, and get some valuable backlinks to your blog then do answer our questions and drop us an email. Once we've received your answers we'll be in touch to sort out a date.

Given my trouble with dates this month, it seems only fitting that my photo this week is the month card from my February stationery box, and some of the squares from a charm pack I couldn't help but buy.

February and charm packs

I've no idea what I'll do with them, but I'm sure something will crop up.  I also bought a larger sized pack, again just because they looked so pretty!

Anticipating wind this weekend

A week or so ago I unboxed a new garden tool from Stihl, which I'm fully expecting to help us tame the leaves in our garden.  You can see from the first photo in my conservatory plans post just how many trees we have in our garden (just) and how they're all pretty much bare right now. As you know all those leaves have to go somewhere and I can tell you it's not up, it's most definitely down and along some. We've leaves covering the flower beds, in the slate (much to MOH's disdain) and quite a few have sought solace together in random sheltered spots around the garden. You know the places that you'll twist and turn to get into and then struggle to turn and twist to get out of without dropping the clutch of leaves you've gathered. 

Yes exactly.  Collecting leaves by hand is often a futile task, and one that kills your back, even more than digging I think. 

But leaves are good. Well rotted down leaves are good, so in a year or two's time, the leaves that are creating quiet chaos in our garden will be the stars of the show, providing valuable leaf mould. We've a leaf mould compost bin over on the allotment as well as a smaller bin in our garden, as we gather sack fulls of leaves. And as we'll use most of the leaf mould on the plot, it made sense to "make" leaf mould there, of course the challenge is to get the sacks of leaves over there in the first place, but that's a small logistics matter...

Did you know that the simple black sack is your friend when it comes to leaf mould?  

Making leaf mould is one of the few things I use black sacks for, and I buy the cheapest ones I can get hold of. Before I fill it with leaves I take great joy in laying the sacks out on the grass and stabbing them with my garden fork. The leaves need some air, and I tell MOH that it's good for his grass too...

If your leaves are wet then simply fill your sacks and tie the top and leave in a quiet corner of your garden until you find them about the same time next year, when you can give them a look and see how they're doing. Depending on what kind of leaves you have, they may take longer to do their thing, but it won't be long before you've got some fabulous homemade goodness to use in your garden.

But back to my new garden tool

You'll know I'm an advocate of STIHL, the company and its products and am already the proud owner of a compact grass trimmer which now I regularly "wrestle" MOH for. It's his favourite too, but don't worry I do pull rank and claim it back as my own, most of the time... Sometimes it's just as well to let him get on with it, while he's happy.

The new tool I've unboxed is a compact cordless blower, hence the prediction for more wind to come at the weekend.  Once again it features a 36V Lithium-ion battery and Stihl's quiet technology, which they say on their website means you don't need to wear ear protection. Remembering my visit to their Competence Centre in Kufstein and the work and testing they undertake on their products, I'm looking forward to hearing - or rather not hearing - what they've achieved with this model.

It's arrived - my Stihl leaf blower (BGA 56)
Unboxing my Stihl BGA 56
The rechargeable battery on the STIHL BGA56

Like the grass trimmer before it, this is easy to manage and designed to be easy to use.  There's a couple of other features which I'll be testing out at the weekend, these include the length-adjustable blower tube which can be adjusted for whoever's using it to ensure that the blowing force (now get me) remains at the optimum level to make short work of those leaves and twigs.

Taking a closer look at the Stihl BGA 56

The blurb says that everything you need to operate the blower control functions and the safety locking lever are incorporated easily into the handle, which has been designed so it's easy to use for both right or left-handers. I'm sure that for many lefties, that's music to their ears. 

Waiting for my battery to charge
So let's hope the weather is as nice as it was last weekend (sadly I don't think I'm going to be that lucky), or at least let's hope the only wind around is the self-made sort courtesy of my new leaf blower! I'll let you know how I get on, but in the meantime if you want the technical details they're readily available on the Stihl site.

* This is a collaborative post, but all views are my own.