During the spring and summer I have had the privilege of being allowed to look at a beautiful and varied collection of trees, shrubs and garden plants. Not just on a one-day visit but to return time after time as leaves and flowers opened and so to watch their development.
It began in January with snowdrops, not wall to wall whiteness but a few here, a small clump there, and a row in the hedge bottom, all to be looked for and a joy when found. Then Aconite Crocus Primroses some early Prunus and the first Daffodils appeared. More and more Daffodils, Wallflowers and Tulips opened and on each occasion there was something fresh to see. There was Blackthorn, which is not considered to be a garden plant but which when allowed to grow as a small tree provides, welcome early blossom and in a country setting links garden and hedgerow.
I was particularly delighted with a Camellia, which grew up over a wall and spread its flowers in abundance. This was a plant, which had clearly benefited from time. Other well-established shrubs and trees were there. There were several sorts of Magnolias white and pink a wall full of Climbing Hydrangea and Roses climbing over walls and trees or growing as hedges.
There were trees Cherries, Kanzan and the double white. Viburnums, tall Horse Chestnuts, Copper Beeches, and broad avenues of Lime, all in their season becoming the centre of attraction. The Red Hawthorne is always a source of amusement to me because every tree seems to have one branch on which the flowers are of slightly different colour from the rest.
Not all of the display was of flowers. A Silver Birch growing in grass, Holly, and a wide variety of conifers combined to contribute to the show. To demonstrate the best uses of Leylandii there were neatly clipped and well groomed hedges to be seen. Neatly clipped is not a virtue in every case. A Mahonia Charity and a Buddleja growing together with a Holly in glorious unrestrained freedom alternate their magnificent display though the year.
Two trees the leaves of which look very similar, the Laburnam with yellow flowers and the Robinia with white or pink flowers gave a wonderful display. The Robinia rarely produces flowers in such abundance but this year there seems to have been a fabulous show of blossom on all of the trees and shrubs.
Although there were some Azaleas and Rhododendrons there were not many, and these were of the smaller shrubby varieties. Not because the soil is unsuitable, that can be arranged, but because the arboreal types like moisture and humidity and in the eastern counties this is not to be found except in damp woodland. In all of these show gardens the unusual and exotic is sought out and cared for. I have often thought that if The Elder bush came from the other side of the world and cost a lot of money it would be a garden treasure. (The black leaf and variegated forms are). I found it in its native form growing in secluded places amongst the “proper” garden plants. Trees and shrubs were the more visible components but herbaceous plants, bedding, heathers, and displays of tubs boxes and hanging baskets ensured that colour was changing continually and was always plentiful. Occasionally the unexpected was seen. Cynara yes, but are they Artichokes or Cardoons? Growing amongst the flowers they drew me back to look again and I had to ask. They are Cardoons.
Great houses with their beautiful gardens open to the public are very few in this part of the country. With the exception of Normanby Hall it is not possible to find one which can be visited on a day to day basis so as to watch the progress of the plants as they open their leaf buds and flowers. Without the expense of travelling a great distance and given the freedom to view as often as I please I am delighted to enjoy such abundance. I look forward to the rest of the year and to the autumn display with happy anticipation.
Perhaps the best description would be a paradise of gardens because it is made up of many small quit different gardens, which you look into almost like the show gardens. I would like to be able to reveal the location of this paradise of gardens, but unfortunately I do not have permission so you will have to find it for yourself. However it is not far away you do not have to leave the public road to see it and I can give you one clue.