For a number of years as I was growing up we had a smallholding on the North Brink of the River Nene near Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. Anyone who knows The Fens, knows that Wisbech is not he grandest of towns, it is somewhat run down and dilapidated and a little rough around the edges. In Georgian times however it was an affluent and bustling town with it's large docks used by many wealthy merchants. Today, amidst the neglected shops and run down buildings on the banks of the River Nene there still remain some really quite beautiful Georgian properties. They have a delightful untouched charm about them and are often a favoured haunt of the period drama makers. Numerous television productions such as Martin Chuzzlewit, Micawber and David Copperfield have been shot in and around the houses there, and at one house in particular; Peckover House.Ginkgo biloba.
Despite living on the same road as this beautiful Georgian merchants house for several years I never visited it or it's walled gardens. As a child I always remember little tastes of the garden as I walked along the pavement with my mother such as the smell of roses in summer, a dragonfly whizzing noisily past or the leaves of the Ginkgo biloba tree landing at my feet in Autumn. So for many years I have been curious about what lay within the walled garden at Peckover. Tumbledown Farm, the smallholding where we now live lies on the Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Cambridgshire borders so Peckover is only a 30 minute drive away at most. With it being so near I decided this year as I was living at Tumbledown again that I would have to make my way back to North Brink and visit the walled garden. I made my first visit on my Birthday in June but it was a short one as the weather was overcast and grey and soon erupted into heavy rain. So I made a second visit on a glorious August afternoon and explored this small walled garden at my own leisure.
Summer house and lily pool.
Within the walled garden I discovered that it was divided into several smaller gardens. In June one of the most beautiful was a small walled garden that had a circular lawn with a lily pool at its heart. A circular gravel path ran around it and several varieties of big beautiful frothy peonies effervesced from the borders surrounding it.
Lily pool near summer house.
After delighting in so many delicious peonies (they really have to be one of my favourite flowers even though they only flower for such a short time) I discovered that Peckover was crammed to the hilt with roses. Everywhere I turned there was another rose, climbing up an arbour or obelisk, scrambling through a tree or just quietly nestling next to a wall. Absolutely heavenly for a hopeless romantic like me who can't resist shoving her nose in every new rose she spots and taking in the dreamy scents.
Archway with rose.
Cup and Saucer Plant -Cobaea scandens.
A number of beautiful annual climbers smothered poles and obelisks around the garden. The purple flowers of Cobaea scandens caught my eye in one border and contrasted wonderfully with the obelisk in the border opposite it that was filled with jolly orange and yellow Spanish Flag flowers (Ipomea lobata) waving in the breeze.
Cabbage White butterfly on bench.
On my August visit to the garden I sat down in a little shaded corner on a beautiful white bench. Golden afternoon light streamed through the trees and lit up the area that was full of swathes of Japanese anemones. It made the garden feel quite magical and lived up to my childhood imaginings of a beautiful secret garden hidden behind that wall that was just too tall for me to know what mysteries lay within.
White Japanese anemone.
Yellow cutting border.
Tortoiseshell butterfly on Verbena bonariensis.
Spanish Flag -Ipomea lobata.
For a small garden there were many beautiful plants, again the bold colours of the red border appealed to the inner Sarah Raven in me (oh heck!) with its dark red Dahlias, Amaranthus, Astrantia and Gladioli. A Victoria plum tree sat in the middle of them and the deep purple skin of the plums dangling from its branches made them look like opulent jewels next to the rich burgundies of the flowers.
Gladioli and Amaranthus.
Dragonfly on Dahlia.
View of Peckover House from garden.
As usual I took a 101 photographs on my visits. There was a beautiful little orangery crammed full of Abutilons, Pelargoniums and Hippeastrum that made a very useful retreat from the rain on my first visit. I have put some extra snaps in a slide show for anyone that needs cheering up from the grey skies and rain currently lurking outside the window. Just click for the show!
CLICK for the slide show