The Dutch Garden and Orangery at Hestercombe

We visited Hestercombe Gardens in Somerset earlier in the year, much earlier in the year, which explains the grey skies in some of these photos. In fact later on the day of our visit it snowed, and we ended up cutting short our weekend, which we learnt this past weekend was a good call as the Devon village where we were staying was cut off for three days. Or perhaps, we didn’t make the right call after all, depends on your viewpoint I guess…

This shot of the ornate garden was taken on the Dutch Garden side looking through to the Mill Pond, and it’s a hint at the formality and grandeur of the Dutch Garden.

A pretty gate to entice you in to this part of the garden at Hestercombe

Turning around, you can see the more formal planting, along with those grey snow-laden skies I mentioned before.

A moody and grey sky from the Dutch garden at Hestercombe

As you can see the planting had yet to spring into life, the pots would be full of tulips in the weeks to come, but not for our March visit. It’s at this time of year though that you can more easily see a garden’s structure, and I always think if it looks good without the plants, then it can only look better when they’re in flower.

large terracotta pots in the Dutch garden

We’ll have to go back again when there’s more in the garden, as I’m sure it will have a completely different feel. It’s a good garden to visit, so it won’t be any hardship, and you know how much I’m a fan of independent gardens as well as those of the RHS and National Trust.

We knew from the garden map that there was an Edwin Lutyens Orangery near to the Dutch Garden and looking to our right we quickly spotted it looking majestic a few steps away.

looking across to the orangery at Hestercombe

As with many of these gardens we visit, even the pathways have added interest and we discovered this to be the case as we walked past the in bud magnolia to see more of the Orangery.

fancy stonework on the pathway

And stepping inside was everything I expected an Orangery to be, and quite an elegant space.

heading inside the orangery

With citrus fruits too, although they had a way to go before picking I’m sure.

one of the fruits in the orangery
outside the orangery

The exterior uses Somerset’s yellow hamstone which even on the greyest of day has a great colour. Looking at the Hestercombe site, it’s available to hire for weddings, which seems a great use for the space, now I’m thinking I need to be a wedding guest there, but on a sunny day please!

Enjoying Castle Howard

Before I even start editing my photos from the weekend in Devon I thought we could all do with some Yorkshire blue skies to remind us of that glorious summer, before our memories are washed away with all the rain we’ve had lately. I don’t know about you but the (relatively) short downpours, which seem as if someone’s turned a shower on, are a bit like running the gauntlet aren’t they?

So far I’ve still avoided being caught in the worst of them, although yesterday I did have a couple of attempts to leave the house, stuck my nose out the door and delayed it for a few minutes before trying again. I was lucky that this didn’t go on for the whole day, but when I did choose to step out with every intention of getting the bus, I realised it wasn’t quite so bad after all and the walk was quite enjoyable.

But that’s not the blue Yorkshire skies, is it? These are though.

Castle Howard against the blue Yorkshire sky

Before we caught our first glimpse of Castle Howard we’d spent quite some time exploring the Walled Garden, which was by far my favourite part of our day. We’ll come to that part I’m sure, but blue skies are what’s needed I think, and these are seriously blue skies. The fountains in front of the house really show off the sky, and even the algae looks pretty.

The fountains at Castle Howard

The exterior of Castle Howard evokes so many memories of Brideshead Revisited, for me, the one from the 1980s which although I wasn’t an avid watcher, I was a fan mainly of Jeremy Irons, and was keen to take a look round the exhibition in the house. And when I did I realised just how much my admission of not being an avid watcher was true, and how much I’d forgotten, or perhaps didn’t even know from this iconic series.

One of the "wings" looking majestic

The grounds are extensive and provided plenty of space for visitors to enjoy without being on top of each other. For me that’s one of the best things about visiting places like this, having space enough to make believe it’s yours for the short while you’re there. Although this one was a push, even for me.

Looking across the lake at Castle Howard
framing the lake with the grasses

The lake was huge and provided a great place for a stroll, and some great pictures which emphasise the space available.

reflections in the lake at Castle Howard

It’s calming isn’t it? And a great place to visit, after our stroll around the lake we headed through the grounds to the Temple of the Four Winds, which I’ve already shared here. So if you want a double burst of blue skies, head over there and soak that sky up too!

In the meantime, don’t forget your brolly again today…

The Rose Garden at Parcevall Hall

Today I’m sharing a burst of sunshine, both literally as it was a glorious day for my visit and because it’s great to look around an independent garden.  I think there’s some real gems out there and we often overlook these, unless we already know them or they’re close by.  I discovered Parcevall Hall as I was scouring maps of the local area on our trip to Yorkshire to see what was close by.  It wasn’t that far away, as the crow flies, but in reality it was more up and down than I expected as it’s in Wharfedale in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  I don’t know about you but I find driving on steep and windy country roads exhausting, less than walking obviously, but tiring nonetheless given the additional concentration needed.

It was worth it though, as the gardens didn’t disappoint.  I’ve plenty of photos to share from here and some will no doubt brighten up the chillier days ahead, and I’ll not apologise for sharing some more sunshine when I think we need it. To buck the trend I’m not starting at the beginning of our visit either, instead starting with the Rose Garden, which at the end of June was full of the heady scent of roses, a scent that until our trip to the Loire I didn’t get.

A gravel path filled with scent and blue skies at Parcevall Hall in Yorkshire

The garden was set out symmetrically, its paths willing you to wander around.  There were places to stop and enjoy the garden, but with so much to explore we didn’t pause as much as perhaps we would have if I hadn’t already planned for us to go to RHS Harlow Carr in the afternoon, and squeeze in an afternoon tea at Betty’s - I told you I’d packed it in, didn’t I?

But taking some time to wander around and enjoy the roses was just what we needed, and there were certainly plenty to see and smell, all types and colours too.  There were roses with tightly packed petals and more open, relaxed roses.  Pinks, whites and reds the most prominent colours.  And, oh the smell in the sunshine, heavenly.

frilly white roses packed with petals
Open more old fashioned roses

Even then I remember thinking it wouldn’t be a garden I’d look forward to dead-heading, there were just so many blooms. You’ll see though that the garden looks no worse for a few decaying roses, and of course if everything was dead-headed there’d be no rose hips. 

bursts of red roses too
Rosehips in the rose garden at Parcevall Hall in Yorkshire

I normally favour roses with plenty of petals, but in this garden these delicate pink edged blooms caught my eye, and so my journey into the world of roses, with this rose with its more wild rose style flowers knocking me for six.  

pretty pink edged petals full of scent
pink roses at all stages of flowing at Parcevall Hall in Yorkshire

And look. Proof, that a garden can still look pretty and be enjoyed when it’s not perfect. The photo above shows every stage of flowering for a rose, and if there was a rosehip I’d have a full house! 

That’s pretty reassuring, isn’t it?