Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Dragons Claws and Hellebores: The Old Rectory Gardens, Sudborough.

Chionodoxa forbesii "Pink Giant"

This week I have been contemplating how immensely therapeutic I find gardening. It is such an uplifting past time. It is one of the few hobbies that allows you the opportunity to be as creative as your heart desires and if it doesn't work well there's always next year. I love the combination of creativity with growth, the constant changing of the seasons and plants in the garden, it is never static there is always something to do, see, nurture, squish, snip, tie back or make you smile. It's terribly comforting.

Mums op went well last week, but I must admit I was worried about it. She is a notoriously bad patient and her allergy to morphine was problematic to say the least. Getting out into the garden really helped to clear away the week's stresses.  On Sunday I opted for an extra dollop of garden therapy and escaped in the car for a couple of hours to The Old Rectory Gardens at Sudborough, Northamptonshire. As I pulled into the small village of Sudborough the sun was shining, a white bantam hen was scratching about on the grass next to an old-fashioned red telephone box in front of a thatched cottage. It could not have been more of an English Sunday afternoon if it had tried, I could even smell the roast beef and horseradish sauce on the breeze.

 Front driveway planted with flowering currents, Daphnes, spring bulbs and Hellebores.

 Daphne mezareum "Rubra" under planted with hellebores, snowdrops, ferns and violets.

Although some might say that it is still a little early to go wandering around gardens, I found plenty to enjoy on this glorious spring afternoon. I was a little surprised to find that I was the only visitor to the garden. It was however a delight to have the garden to myself. To wander around and explore at my leisure and sit and listen to the chorus of bird song without being disturbed or feeling that I needed to make way for someone else made for a deliciously indulgent visit. 

Tree Peony Emerging.

Tree Peony

The garden was bursting into life. I was particularly excited to see that there were a large number of both herbaceous and tree peonies. Although it is far too early for them to be flowering yet, their shoots are just starting to open. I was really taken with these tree peonies whose new shoots reminded me of brightly coloured dragons claws.

Tree Peony
As I have discovered over the last few months the great thing about visiting a garden before it has exploded into a green jungle of foliage is that you can study its structure and shape more closely, you get a better sense of the real bones of the garden. I have been finding this particularly interesting in terms of thinking about how I would love to develop Tumbledown and to be able to see other gardens with their clothes off so to speak sets the mind racing!

The Rose Garden was bare save for some rather lovely Chionodoxa forbesii "Pink Giant" and box but its simple structure and fountain still made it an attractive feature in the garden. I would love to see it later in the summer when it is in full bloom.

 The Rose Garden

The hellebores at The Old Rectory were HEAVENLY. Oh I know I am gushing, but they were a veritable symphony of colour! There were areas dotted all over the garden brimming with them, tall elegant ladies bobbing their heads demurely in the afternoon sun. I have no idea why but for some reason hellebores remind me of 1940's women with their long sensible skirts and splash of glamorous lipstick.

Helleborus sp.

Helleborus sp.

Helleborus sp.

Helleborus sp.

Helleborus sp.

Helleborus sp.

Helleborus sp.

Helleborus sp.

Helleborus sp.

Hellebores in snowdrops.

Helleborus "Black Ace"

Helleborus "Hillie" hybrid double

Acer griseum

Chionodoxa was bursting through the borders all over the place, small and bright and hopeful. 
I loved it in this bed below with the green fern foliage, ivy, snowdrops, and Arum italicum.

Chionodoxa forbesii

Archway to the Potager

The Potager Garden designed by Rosemary Verey.

The Old Rectory is also home to a rather fine Potager garden designed by Rosemary Verey.
It is not planted out yet so its skeleton is laid bare for all to see.

Urn in the Potager.

I discovered at the very bottom of the garden there was one of my very favourite things. A swing seat. Yes I am a big kid. Had you really not worked that out by now? How happy was I that I had it all to myself? VERY! The bottom of the garden is given over to a pond and woodland area planted with large numbers of narcissus. The Harper's brook cuts across the end of the garden and on the far side lies open fields and farmland. Don't you just hate people that only review lovely gardens, idyllic places that you can get lost in for hours? Well as I sat on the swing seat gently rocking back and forth, watching pied wagtails on the lawn, sunlight dancing off the brook and listening to the birds singing excited spring songs to each other in the trees I was only mildly disappointed that I did not see a pair of fluffy bunnies skipping off into the distance together in the far field. Now seriously, this is a great garden, it's early spring and its got me hooked already. I shall be back in May to see the standard white wisteria and peonies in flower, you just try stopping me. I am SO pleased to have discovered this garden!

 Harper's Brook


BernieH said...

It's a beautiful place ... how lucky you were to have it all to yourself. The vistas are gorgeous, especially the one of Harper's Brook ... loved the willow arches, the potager is magnificent and that shot of the Chionodoxa forbesii is beautiful. Loved all the hellebores too ... particularly the white one with the reddish/purple splotches. Thanks very much for the visit.

Garden Beet said...

great - wow what an amazing garden - hope your mum is OK -

Stone Art's Blog said...

Great post, some lovely pics too. Now I see what you mean about writeing a post, somtimes being like laying an egg. haa ha. I hope you gave out a good chuckel when you were finished.

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Wow, what great photos! I love Chionodoxa and hellebores, of course. The emerging tree peony bud macros are tasty! Might I humbly beg you to increase your font size? My eyes aren't the best and I have to struggle to read the text, esp. white on a black background. I know I could increase font size on my web browser, but then I'd have to set it back and I get confused. Thanks!

Rothschild Orchid said...

Mums doing OK, buts she is still quite poorly.

Monica I have had a twiddle and tried to make the font larger, hope it has helped?

RO xx

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Oh, how beautiful! The potager, the urn, the plants - everything is so inspiring!!! Thank you!

Liz said...

Hi RO,

The Hellebores are amazing, such a wide range too... Wonderful, lovely photos, isn't it amazing how the gardens can go from bare, lifeless structures to no doubt a haven in just a few months??

Nature is amazing.

blake said...

How lovely, and interesting to see this garden so early in the season. It's on my list of gardens to visit next time I'm in England (soon I hope!).

I hope your mom feels better soon.

Noelle Johnson said...

Isn't it sad that so many people miss the beauty in the garden this time of year? Thank you for sharing with us and showing us what so many miss.

Gail said...

I felt like I was walking with you! What a great garden and are you ever right...those bones just pop out at one. The potager is just as I imagined a walled garden in England. Sigh! Thank you for sharing!! gail

Woodswoman Extraordinaire said...

I love your descriptions. Dragons claws, and naked and skeletal gardens, hellebores like lipstick on ladies. You really captured the mood!

Anna said...

Now that looks a most special garden RO and definitely one to return too. I was breathing in wafts of daphne mezeruem 'Rubra' yesterday at a garden centre - quite intoxicating. Hope that your mum makes good progress.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Great photos and observations. Personally I think if you like something you like it and you can only say it how it is for you.

Sounds like you have difficult time re relatives. Hope things improve.

Best Wishes

easygardener said...

Hellebores - real charmers. I can't resist them. The garden looks interesting and it is quite an experience visiting gardens out of season to get a different perspective.

Unknown said...

What a fabulous looking garden, yet another to add to my list of must sees. I agree a good garden should look good at any time of the year, which is how I know mine isnt a good garden!!!!

HappyMouffetard said...

I think I'm becoming a bit boring & repetetive commenting on your blog posts - gorgoeus, gorgeous, gorgeous photos.
Great minds & all that - I've just posted about 'garden bones'.
I'm glad your mum's op went well x

Carol said...

Thank you for that wonderful tour RO! What a jewel to find and I love seeing it this early! How lucky to have it to your self! Only where is the swing seat!? I am so glad you discovered this garden too and look forward to seeing it again with you in May! I hope your mom is recovering well. Happy Spring!

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

You are so right about gardening being therapeutic! Hope your mom continues to recover quickly.
What a beautiful tour of the garden, I wish there were places like that to visit around here. Those Hellebores were amazing!

VP said...

Glad to hear your mum's progressing well.

I can see why you love this garden - what a discovery!

Like you, I've become a fan seeing gardens stripped bare this winter - a great way of seeing the structure and to learn how one's own garden can be improved :)

Kimberly said...

Yes, gardening is therapeutic, as is your post! Such lovely gardens. I'm glad to hear your mother is doing well, and will continue to progress, I'm certain. She's fortunate to have such a wonderful child to care for her and lift her spirits!

The Idiot said...

Stunning images, just stunning!

You picked the right day for your trip; one nice day amidst a sea of grey.

Hope your Mum's on the mend!

Heather at Dusty Bay said...

Such beautiful photos! That black (or is it deep purple)Helleborus was particularly striking. Happy Spring!

RURAL magazine said...

What a delightful spring romp. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I am in love with that Potager garden. Hhhmmmmm. Wonder if our future farm will have a space for that?


debsgarden said...

I am with you. I could spend hours in that garden! How fortunate that it is only a couple hours from you. Thank you for this lovely post. I think I am an addict. This virtual taste has made me want to go out and tour my own garden, though it is on a different level entirely and paltry in comparison. But there are plants, and earth and sky. I love to drink it all in!

Unknown said...

What a fabulous place, RO! I hope your mum is doing better, and that the dose of garden therapy is still holding you in good stead. Spring is obviously bursting out all over around you, which is just what a tired spirit needs. Take care of you...

Sue Catmint said...

Hi RO, what a rich post. I hardly know where to start commenting. The idea of looking at a garden when it is not full of flowers to see the structure is very instructive. I have learned the hard way, over a long time, of the importance of a good planned structure in a garden.

The other comment concerns the hellebores, one of my faves. What a wonderful varied collection.

Cheers, catmint

Daisy Debs said...

How beautiful ! I look forward to seeing how the garden changes as Summer dances in . I also love the little photo of the prehistoric child's footprint is quite moving .

Anonymous said...

What beautiful pictures of a beautiful garden. I love the potager. Amazing!

Patina and Company said...

These gardens and the photos are beyond beautiful! Sometimes I see things that defy language, and these are in that category. I DREAM of gardens like these.