The Blue Garden

One of the small gardens within the Walled Gardens of Cannington is the Blue Garden and that's a challenging choice, as 'true blue' is a relatively rare colour among flowers.  You might immediately think of cornflowers, irises and periwinkles, and maybe even the more purple blues of lavenders and pansies.  And I'm sure there's more, but they don't roll of the tongue easily, do they?

WHAT OTHER COLOUR BENCH WOULD YOU EXPECT?

WHAT OTHER COLOUR BENCH WOULD YOU EXPECT?

The cobalt blue benches were striking on the wet and grey day we visited.  With more blue flowers in the garden I'm sure it would be a fantastic space.

You forget that rosemary has small blue flowers, but it does, and they were starting to make themselves known.  I bet the garden is also one of most fragrant spots what with the rosemary and lavender.

BLUE FLOWERS STARTING TO SHOW ON THE ROSEMARY

BLUE FLOWERS STARTING TO SHOW ON THE ROSEMARY

The water feature, which somehow I've cut the top off in my photo, was designed by a student and creates a modern interpretation of a conifer tree.  It's been modified though as it seems that the design also soaked visitors.  As you'd expect the stone wall that it sits around it matches the theme of the garden - blue lias stone - and was quarried in Somerset.

THE BLUE GARDEN WATER FEATURE

THE BLUE GARDEN WATER FEATURE

THE SILVER BLUE LEAVES OF LAVENDER

THE SILVER BLUE LEAVES OF LAVENDER

There's a lot of rosemary in the central part of the garden, and it was a good reminder of how it can be used sculpturally, adding shape and height.  It also gives me hope for my future rosemary hedges over on the plot.

ROSEMARY USED IN SWATHES OF BEDS

ROSEMARY USED IN SWATHES OF BEDS

Given that our visit was the middle of March we did well to see the blue flowers we did, especially given the cold weather.  The irises were starting to make themselves known and yet again reminded me that I need to add some to my garden.

DWARF IRISES ADDING A PURPLE BLUE TO THE GARDEN

DWARF IRISES ADDING A PURPLE BLUE TO THE GARDEN

The board in the garden says it's been designed for year round interest, and it'd be great to see it throughout the year, wouldn't it?

“TheGardenYear

The kitchen garden at Gravetye Manor

At the start of the month we headed down to Sussex for an early celebratory meal at Gravetye Manor; it's somewhere that's been on my radar and to visit list for a while and I'd heard the afternoon teas there were just fabulous. Although when I looked at the sample menus, everything looked fabulous and we quickly upgraded ourselves to a proper meal. We'd hope to book a dinner reservation, but by the time we remembered to actually book they were full for the dates that worked for us, so we opted for lunch instead.  

It felt slightly strange, but quite decadent, to spoil ourselves on a Tuesday lunchtime, but it actually worked out really well as despite being full of gorgeous food we were able to wander around the gardens and beautiful grounds in our finery, which wouldn't have been an option after an evening meal, and let's face it it'd be highly unlikely that we'd get there early enough to do it beforehand (although on reflection that is probably the best advice I can give you!)

After cocktails, three courses and coffee with petit fours and some relaxing and recovering in the lounge we headed out to the gardens. I'd read that there was a walled garden, so that was incentive enough. I'll admit though it's the first garden I've explored in heels, but given that this exploration took place after a gourmet lunch, I think it was the lunch more than the heels that slowed us down.

When I saw these gates, the entrance to the walled garden, I knew we'd made the right choice to get up and explore. Aren't they beautiful?

Fantastic gates and a great entrance to the walled garden at Gravetye Manor in Sussex

Inside the walled garden we were to discover the most bountiful of gardens which is used to supply fruit, vegetables and flowers for the hotel and restaurant, and that explains why there were such mounds of rhubarb and artichokes. That's quite a responsibility to grow enough to satisfy a restaurant dish.

RHUBARB

RHUBARB

GLOBE ARTICHOKES

GLOBE ARTICHOKES

The garden is oval in shape, or elliptical if you want to be formal about these things, and the path leads and encourages you around the garden. It's one of the few remaining Victorian walled kitchen gardens that remains in production and covers 1.5 acres of what Gravetye Manor say is "the most beautiful soil imaginable" and I suspect they have a point.

the path leading you around the walled garden at Gravetye Manor in Sussex

What surprised me was the number of flowers being grown, but on reflection and learning they supply the hotel with cut flowers it's not that surprising. It did remind me that I should grow more flowers in my allotment and this year I'm determined to add a cut flower bed. 

FOXGLOVE

FOXGLOVE

LOOK AT THOSE PURPLE STEMS

LOOK AT THOSE PURPLE STEMS

Part-way round the garden I spotted another gate, and I think this one, even more beautiful than the entrance gates. Its design, the clematis clambering over it and the lichen covered sandstone walls all contributing to the prettiest of pictures.

Another iron gate clad with clematis in the walled garden at Gravetye Manor in Sussex

As we continued to walk around the walled garden it was the flowers and flowering herbs that caught my attention, and I'm rather pleased with some of my iPhone shots.

POPPY

POPPY

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CHIVES

CHIVES

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FROTHY FRONDS

FROTHY FRONDS

It was good to see the apple blossom, I think it's slightly longer lasting than the cherry blossom which has already been and gone in our own garden and is often the blossom "snow" so prevalent in April and early May.

APPLE BLOSSOM

APPLE BLOSSOM

And there were berries too, that will no doubt end up on a fortunate diner's plate. We were curious though as to what colour these would turn out to be, and it's unlikely we'll ever know.

A STRING OF BERRIES

A STRING OF BERRIES

As we left the garden there was a small brick hut right by the entrance which was covered with roses and clematis entwined and it made what is no doubt still a functional space pretty and seem completely at home in its environment.

CLEMATIS AND ROSES ENTWINED

CLEMATIS AND ROSES ENTWINED

So a great wander around a fantastic space, and my fascination for walled and kitchen gardens remains in place, there really is something special about them, but when there's a walled kitchen garden to explore, it's totally something else!

The kitchen garden project at Blickling

I've been meaning to write this post about the kitchen garden project at Blickling for a while now, but it hasn't happened until now, and I'm not sure why. We were at Blickling looking for snowdrops and found so much more.  I'm a bit of a sucker for walled gardens, and kitchen gardens come to think of it, so a walled kitchen garden. Yes, complete heaven!

My pictures are unusually starting at the end of our jaunt around the garden, but it's such a pretty view I didn't want to leave it until the end; it's a view I think I could quite easily sit and watch for quite a while, preferably in nicer weather than we had on our visit there.

Looking through the gate at the Kitchen Garden on the Blickling Estate in Norfolk

I didn't remember the kitchen garden from our previous visit, and it's unlike me to not remember such a garden. But as I read the notices I realised why, it was grassed over when we first visited and so I suspect it didn't hold the magic that these gardens so often do. But through a regeneration project it's being brought back to life and is already supplying fruit and vegetables to the cafes there.

It's a five year project and in the first year over 600m of metal edging was laid - perhaps I should get them to come and help with the edging on our circleswe could certainly do with some help!  They also installed an irrigation system and reinstated paths from its past. It was interesting to learn that in its heyday the walled garden was four times bigger than today, and in the 1950s most of the garden was put to grass, and in the 1980s it was briefly a garden centre.

It's fascinating to learn that they've reintroduced apple and pear varieties that were grown there in the late 1800s. I was keen to get on and explore the garden and so have only really fully read the information boards as I'm writing this post. I know I should read them at the time, but well it was cold, there was a garden to explore, need I say more...

And in fact there was more out than I expected there to be, and more than I'm sure I have on my allotment which is no doubt covered in weeds and full of neglect right now. In the photo below there's orderly strawberries, lavender and parsley and once again I wish my crops would grow so neatly.

a well ordered walled kitchen garden

Instead in the meantime I'll just drool in awe and amazement and try to remember not to cram as many plants into my beds higgledy-piggledy in the future, but no that that's most likely to be exactly what happens!

One thing that I won't be able to do, or have, is an espaliered fruit tree of any kind. But I can admire them and marvel at them, the ones here had some fantastic shapes, not fully symmetrical but characterful nonetheless.

an espalier fruit tree at Blickling in Norfolk

The greenhouses - or glass houses whichever you prefer - were huge and reminded me of the ones at Heligan. I don't think I've ever shared pictures from there (sometimes I'm such a bad blogger!) but I'm sure one day I will. We've been there twice and I'd go again tomorrow if I could, it's such a fab place. And it has glass houses a bit like these.  Phew, back on track.

traditional Glasshouses in the kitchen garden at Blickling NT
It's quite a glass house isn't it?

After lusting over the glass houses, my next lust full item was these bean poles, so much nicer than bamboo don't you think?

plant supports ready and waiting in the walled kitchen garden at Blickling

There wasn't a huge amount out, as I expected. Well, it was January after all, and I soon found myself being drawn back to the glass houses and to the cold frames alongside them. I love to see how these gardens work, clearly on a much larger scale than most domestic garden.  Peering into one of the cold frames, I was amused to see an army of black grass being cultivated.

a nursery bed of black grass ready to plant out

And then I spotted one of the glass house doors was open and well, it would have been rude not to wouldn't it? Sadly as I expected it to be the rest of it was blocked off, but I was able to lean in quite a bit (all that pilates did pay off) and snap a few photos while I was doing so.

a peek inside the glasshouses - leaning in - to get a better look
the workbench inside the glass house at Blickling NT

It's a fascinating structure isn't it? And I'm curious to know if those alliums on the bench above will grow into new plants, I've not had much luck with some dad gave me, and more surprising is that he didn't have much luck with them either. Maybe we'll try again, or maybe I'll just admire their structure when they're done...

So an interesting discovery, a walled kitchen garden that's being restored to its former glory. I'm pretty certain I'll be back at Blickling much sooner than before to explore the rest of the estate and to check on developments here too.  I thought I'd seen most of what Blickling had to offer, but there was still another surprise, and that one was indoors. More on that one soon.