Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Wisteria 2015 - Wowzers!

I don't think I can recall a more abundant showing of wisteria here for many years. So I thought it might be nice to put a few photographs up.
If you can possibly get here to see it, you've got about a week left.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Rainy Bank Holiday Weekend

There was welcome relief from the droughty conditions this weekend; well, of course there was: it was a Bank Holiday and as any Brit knows, that means rain!

A contingent of the New Forest Harley Owners Group arrived for a visit on Sunday, a great opportunity to look at some wonderful vehicles, as they parked outside the front of the house which glammed us up a bit!

It was sad that the summer thunder-drenching arrived just as the Bath College Gamelan were setting up for their performance in the cloister, but the hardy visitors who had evaded the storms were very grateful for the performance and enjoyed being up-close to such beautiful instruments and music.

(sorry, dreadful photo)

By contrast, today brought drier, warmer weather, and our visitors were treated to another free concert, this time from the young musicians of Kingswood School in Bath. Three-to-tea concerts are free to garden visitors, and provide an opportunity for local performers to enjoy playing in a beautiful venue, after which everything stops for tea.

The rain also brought good news for green energy enthusiasts as the river is back up so our hydro-electric plant is running more efficiently again after a few weeks with a low river. And of course, gardeners across the region will be enjoying a respite from watering those freshly bedded-out plants. Oh, and the Japanese cherries are out.

Still, roll on summer – let’s get the warm weather back soon please!

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.