Monday, 20 April 2015

Spring Round-up

I always feel that Spring is really giving way to summer when the magnolias start to drop their petals, the cherries put on their coat of young leaves, and the boldest of the wisteria buds open their eyes a crack to see whether it's time to signal the others to come out.

So, with a light frost last night reminding us that we're never far from a relapse, here is a pictorial round up of the beautiful spring we've had.

Grape Hyacinth and Cherries

Here it comes...

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Hidden Easter Chocolate?

Someone asked us at the weekend whether we had put a trail of chocolate in the garden.  "Not knowingly", we responded.  They enquired as to the intense chocolate scent spread through the terraces and up even as far as the mail pond.

Puzzled, we went to investigate.  And after a little searching the source of this scent, which was indeed an intense chocolate vanilla toffee, as strong as if it were being melted on the hob just next to you, was this Azara, a charming large shrub / small tree which we cosset every winter as it isn't very hardy, but which I'd never actually noticed flowering before.  Pungent stuff.
Meanwhile, the box trees are also flowering - more delicate in scent by a lovely woodiness mixed in with the sweetness.
Elsewhere in the garden it's the magnolia, rosemary lilies and spring flowers that are showing off, but it's always nice to let the trees get in on the act too!

Spring Opening 2015

We welcomed our first visitors of the year last week.
 Although there may not be much flora above ground yet, thanks to the sunshine on Easter Monday the garden showed Harold Peto's strength of design.
 In April, we are offering our visitors a little 'thank you'.  When you purchase entry to the garden this month, you'll get a ticket to come back later in the season without charge.  So why not take advantage of this opportunity to see the garden in the early season as well as later in the summer?  (Not available in conjunction with any other offer)
 (Above: Arum Lily in Loggia Pond)
(Above and Below: Cherry Blossom above the main lawn)
  More cherry blossom in the low spring evening sunlight
Our first Peacock Butterfly for the year.
  (Below: our rather large cercidiphyllum clothed in a bronzed chiffon gown of buds)

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Harold Peto returns to Iford

We unveiled a new statue of Harold Peto last weekend by Wiltshire-based wire sculptor Derek Kinzett (pictured), to celebrate the mastermind behind Iford’s inspirational gardens.

Peto, as regular readers will know, was one of England’s foremost Edwardian garden designers.  He lived at Iford from 1899 to his death in 1933.  During this time, he developed the terraces and buildings behind the house into an eclectic, Italianate garden, characterised by colonnades, pools and rural views.
But it wasn't only the garden which he influenced heavily.  

Adapting the character of the valley to give a more Italianate feel, the altered the fa├žade of the house, placed the statue of Britannia on the mediaeval bridge and changed elements of the other buildings in the yard to romanticise the hamlet.  His greatest work at Iford was undoubtedly his Cloister, and this year it celebrated its 100th Birthday.

Present at the celebratory lunch were members of the team who have spent decades curating and restoring the garden at Iford.  Gardens are the sum of many parts, but the skill of those that work with the plants and structural fabric is a cornerstone to their successful restoration and maintenance.  

The sun emerged from the rain-clouds just as the ghostly statue was unveiled.  Mr Peto had returned for the first time since his death in 1933, and he provided sunshine too for the occasion.
The sculpture is based on a photograph from 1904 (held by JH in the above photo) showing Mr Peto reading some papers while sat on the half-round seat of Iford’s great terrace.  Somehow we felt it was only natural that Harold would still be sitting there now if he could, keeping an eye on us as we maintain his garden – and Derek has created an uncanny likeness.  Here's the statue sitting where Harold was in the photo:
The gardens are undergoing a five-year historic replanting and restoration programme, the first major re-plant in decades.  By the end of the process, flower borders will have been redesigned, Peto’s rose garden will have been restored, and structural elements will have been repaired.  

The roses on Peto's papers in the top photograph are the first blooms from the newly planted historic forms: Paul Transon (pink, from 1900) and the Noisette Claire Jacquier (from 1888).

We hope Harold would raise a wry smile, at least.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Summer Round-up

It was a really busy year, and we decided to take the summer off from blogging to allow us to get some other projects underway (details of those to follow). But now we’ll be back to regular updates here on the blog. You may also like to check out our Facebook Page.

Garden Borders

This year has seen the redevelopment of a further set of borders as we continue our four year project to bring the softer, floral elements of Harold Peto’s garden up to the quality which his buildings now deserve.
Working with garden designer Alison Jenkins, the annual border from last year (which was an emergency measure owing to a late winter!) has been replaced by the planned perennial border. And following a prolonged summer, it came into its own bringing colour right through to the end of October.
Next year it should be even better as the hardier, slower growing plants will have established themselves properly.

Iford Arts - Cloister Centenary Season

This year was the 100th Anniversary of Harold Peto’s Cloister, a remarkable building from 1914 in the 12th Century style, which today houses our performances of opera, jazz and other events.
This year the season was entirely Italian in style. Productions included the charming love story of Puccini’s La Rondine, Donizetti’s comedy La Fille du Regiment (reworked brilliantly by Jeff Clarke to be set in a troop of Californian bikers) and an emotionally intense production of Monteverdi’s Ulysses. Keep an eye out for next year’s programme or sign up to the mailing list on the Iford Arts Website.

Wisteria Season - all year!

A most unusually dry, warm summer, ensured that the wisteria flowered not once or twice, but sporadically all through the summer, only losing its last flowers on the First of October.  Who knows whether this will be repeated next year, but we can only hope!

Hydro Plant Update

The downside of a great summer is that there's no water in the river from which to make electricity - so the Hydro Plant has been almost completely dormant for 5 months.  In recent weeks we have got it turning again and now we are back, thankfully, to generating some meaningful power.  We will still probably manage to make this an average year (the first quarter was jolly wet, after all), but it's a relief to have it running nevertheless.

Visitor Numbers

We found ourselves on television earlier in the year, as the garden designer Paul Hervey-Brookes asked the BBC to film his Chelsea Flower Show introduction here, which was very kind of him!  As a result we saw more visitors to the garden in June than in recent years, and a much larger number of 'pilgrims' who had travelled from across the country specifically to visit the garden.  

It is always humbling to be reminded of the meaning and value which people place in the gardens here which we seek to maintain true to Mr Peto's ethos.

Tea Room Success

Iford's Housekeeper, Sarah (The Crafty Housekeeper), made a great impression this year in the tearoom with a new range of cakes and tasty bites.  The Rocky Road was a particular favourite and one member of the family (yours truly) had to start exercising more as a result.

Other Events

Butterfly Day 2014 was a roaring success; various charity walks and sponsored events came through; our tiny caravan site has welcomed a small number of rallies and casual visitors; we hosted three motocross events; it was a busy year on the farm dealing with new cattle housing; we removed our crop of Miscanthus which was under-performing for various reasons; repairs to the cloister became urgent as was suffering some ground instability under one corner; and this morning the 350 runners on the annual "Over the Hills Race" forded the river and ran the half mile up the drive on their 8 mile cross country run.

Roll on the winter!  I wonder what it will bring.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Sunshine and cattle

For no particular reason, here's a rather nice photograph of our South Devon herd enjoying the sunshine.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Garden update - wisteria

The wisteria is really showing off.  It's out in force on the front of the house, on the casita and by the central entablature of the terrace.