Tag Archives: national trust

Hunting signs of spring


Today is the equinox and the official beginning of spring. Signs of it are catching hold all across East Anglia. Yesterday I popped into the gardens at Blickling Hall to see their lovely dell full of hellebores – if the weather holds this weekend will be the perfect time to visit them.

It’s a blowsy spring joy seeing so many together among other spring plants and set off by the elegant browns of last autumn’s fallen leaves. There are some more daring combinations to – hellebores with black grass – is that Ophiopogon Nigrescens?

Even more unexpected – hellebores with tree ferns, which I would never have thought of but looked beautiful, somehow anchoring the alien form of the tree ferns into this very english garden.

The rest of the garden is laid out on impeccable classical lines, with a great deal of attention paid to vistas opening up and focal points as you move through the garden. If, like me, you fetishise lichen-covered urns and centuries old  mellow brick walls, then this garden is heaven.

It wasn’t until I turned back to the house that I realised there is a whole lake there as well. The views are so controlled for when you approach the front of the house onwards that you just don’t see it until you turn back on yourself.It’s still a little early in the year, but the bones of the perennial garden are beautiful and everywhere there are green shoots thrusting through the mulch. Definitely one to visit in full summer as well.

The house is a delight too – unlike many National Trust properties it is built on a properly domestic scale so you can actually imagine living there, with bright, cosy rooms, low ceilinged enough to heat and not so large you would have to shout to people at the opposite side of the living room. Add in beautiful decorative ceilings and wallpapers, and a glorious Long Gallery it’s a place to spend a little time. Everything is open Wednesday to Sunday at the moment, more in the summer.

Blickling, Norwich, Norfolk NR11 6NF
Telephone: 01263 738030
NB If you’re interested in reading more about art, design and culture in East Anglia, please do follow the blog to its new home at http://flatlanders.co.uk/ – you’ll find more posts on everything interesting happening in the area.

Wimpole Hall Farm and Gardens

 

Espalier apple tree at Wimpole Hall

Espalier apple tree at Wimpole Hall

In the last few sunny weekends of the year, the outdoor parts of Wimpole Hall near Royston are worth a lingering visit, either if you’ve got kids or are enthusiastic about gardening. 

 

I fall into the enthusiastic about gardening category, so I loved the victorian walled kitchen garden. Surrounded by beautifully mellow brick walls with fruit trees trained along the warm surface, it was a riot of vegetables and colourful dahlias when I visited. They have a demonstration greenhouse filled with cordon trained tomatoes, but comfortingly you can also glimpse the enormous modern greenhouse behind the scenes where the real work gets done. 

 

Wimpole Hall

Wimpole Hall

 

 

The entrance to the kitchen garden is a perfect example of formal simplicity which I’d love to reproduce the feeling of in my own garden – it makes the whole experience like visiting a temple to vegetables.

 

They have a variety of home made scarecrows – this one is my favourite.

It seems to have a lovely knowing expression as in knowing where all those birds have gone.

For kids and followers of teh fluff, the farm is a must visit. A riot of baby fluffy and furry things, they are an outpost of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, and you can see all kinds of breeds of goats, ducks, chickens and pigs, visit the beautifully tiled old dairy and revel in the structure of beautiful barns.

The current series of wooden barns were designed by Sir John Soane as a model farm, and they exude a homely elegance. The biggest one holds an exhibition about food production through the ages at Wimole, but it’s worth a visit for the breathtaking roof construction alone.

 

The big barn

The big barn

And being National Trust, there are all the tea, cakes and plant sales you could possibly want to round off an afternoon in the pale autumn sunshine.

Wimpole Hall is open every weekend but dates during the week vary. http://www.wimpole.org/

NB If you’re interested in reading more about art, design and culture in East Anglia, please do follow the blog to its new home at http://flatlanders.co.uk/ – you’ll find more posts on everything interesting happening in the area.