But if you are tired of the grey skies, snow, sleet and rain outside come, follow me through the door and I'll show you around a deliciously green and lush English Country garden...
Another year is nearly over. I could review it at length, but I won't; 2009 has probably been the worst year of my life so far. There have been many sad and stressful moments and I am not sorry to see it go. I am looking forward to 2010 immensely and planning gardens to visit, plants to grow, worlds to conquer (although I am not particularly looking forward to January which has to be for me the most depressing month of them all). I have been looking though my photographs from garden visits earlier this summer. I spied a forgotten little folder called Snowshill and its contents cheered me and reminded me of a very pleasant May afternoon. I'm sorry to all you realists out there, I am sure my January posts will be full of bare trees, grey skies and slimy looking plants, I'm trying to meet you part of the way -at least the title has something a little wintry about it, even if the pictures do not!
I took a short break in the Cotswolds over the May bank holiday this year and one of the places I happened to visit was Snowshill Manor. The picturesque manor built in traditional yellow Cotswold limestone nestles in the hills above the Vale of Evesham. A brisk walk through orchards and fields leads you the house.
St George and the Dragon bell.
The manor has a rich history and was the property of Winchcombe Abbey from 821 until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539. It then became the property of the Crown and was presented to Katherine Parr, King Henry VIII 's wife as a gift. Its real interest today however is in its role as the final home of Charles Paget Wade's collection of design and craftsmanship. Wade was a very eccentric collector and he purchased Snowshill in 1919 as a property in which to house his extraordinary collection of 22,000 items and 2000 piece costume collection (including 26 suits of Samurai armour). He was an architect, craftsman and poet, and had spent more than 50 years amassing his collection, which he acquired mainly from British antiques dealers and shops.
The gardens at Snowshill are small but an unexpected delight. Charles Wade designed them in collaboration with the Arts and Crafts architect M. H. Baille-Scott in the early 1920's. I went to Snowshill to see Wade's collection, not the gardens. It is without doubt the most interesting collection of items I have ever seen and could happily return again and again to gaze in wonderment at them. The gardens however were really very pretty and a pleasure to slowly meander around. I visited the world famous Hidcote Manor that same weekend; it was unfortunately very crowded and so for me Snowshill was by far the more enjoyable visit (I think I will have to have another go at Hidcote next summer to see if I get more joy).
The boarders were billowing with sweet smelling hesperis, irises, poppies, aquilegias, nepeta, hardy geraniums, peonies, topiaried box and old-fashioned roses. The garden was not filled with complicated planting schemes and there were no particularly unusual plants to get me excited but the simplicity and vibrancy of the plants used suited the small terraces and ponds beautifully. The verdant jumble of growth that I do so love about gardens in May sat at ease in the walls of the manor, but also met comfortably with the rolling hills and countryside beyond.
I hope I have managed to provide a few minutes distraction for those of you suffering with the winter blues; I'm dreaming of spring and lusting after summer already.
I would just like to take a moment to thank everyone who has commented on and visited the blog this year, it has given me a great deal of pleasure to share all my tales and visits with you and receive your feedback. Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year; may all your dreams and wishes come true RO xxx