Yesterday was a bit of a bumper day all round, with a new addition courtesy of Elder Daughter, photographic proof that the campervan we had ordered in October had finally arrived at the dealership for conversion and a trip to Warwick to visit three gardens. Needless to say I couldn’t possibly rank these events in any sort of order!
Warwick is barely an hour’s drive away so it was easy to fit all three gardens and lunch into the trip, none of the gardens being very big. Another day trip will allow a visit to the formal gardens at Warwick Castle and the recreated Elizabethan gardens at Kenilworth Castle, just down the road from Warwick and both made more financially attractive by Gardeners’ World magazine’s ‘2 for 1’ card. Yesterday’s first stop was at Hill Close Gardens on the wonderfully named ‘Bread and Meat Close’, a rare survival of hedged Victorian leisure gardens, now restored and maintained by volunteers. Their original owners tended to live above their business premises so escaped to their gardens here at the weekends – most gardens had information about their previous owners who, having bought their plots, tended to pass them down the generations. Like modern allotments they grew a range of flowers, fruit and vegetables, and some kept pigs or chickens. All plots had a brick summerhouse, most of which remain and are currently in use to display vintage garden related or leisure items. The volunteers also maintain a small nursery with a very interesting and somewhat unusual selection of plants – I bravely did not look at any of the plants but just asked about one stunning geum I had noticed, ‘Prinses Juliana’, who accompanied me home.
The second garden is one I have been to before, the Master’s Garden at the Lord Leycester Hospital which is not and never has been a medical establishment but ‘a charitable institution for the housing and maintenance of the needy, infirm or aged’ which has been its function since the time of Elizabeth I. The Hospital is a historic group of timber-framed buildings dating mainly from the late 14th Century clustered round the Norman gateway into Warwick. Behind the buildings is the Master’s Garden where I experienced my Damascene moment regarding tulips. Alas the tulips, if indeed the box edged beds are still filled with tulips in the spring, were over, and most of the beds were empty and awaiting a summer display. There was, however, a wisteria in full flower with a viewing platform at flowering level. The other feature I remember were the pleached limes, my first experience of these, which were still very much in evidence along with the swags of roses which were just budding up nicely..
The third garden was the Mill Garden, a small garden in a unique setting on the banks of the River Avon beneath the walls of Warwick Castle. Despite the dramatic views I seem to have forgotten to take any photographs, the day’s excitement and the hot May sunshine perhaps having taken its toll by that point……