There was nothing to commend the weather today. We were promised rain and it came. Cloudy and with poor light the roads in Bedfordshire were dirty grey. In the centre of Ampthill we found the NGS signs pinned to the lamp posts brightly pointing the way to the King’s Arms Garden and thank heavens, because the King’s Arms has long gone.
Through an alley way and down what we would call in Norfolk a loke, we were able to admire the new style posters which have been created for this NGS 90th year; the yellow has become buttery, the writing in a style which looks hand written. Oh, and a garden gate. Slightly Quirky?
We found the entrance to this small garden originally created on poor ground in the 60s by a retired horticulturalist, a Mr. Nourish, it is owned by the Town Council.
Hey, and the gate is just like the one on the poster! The entrance is neat, and there is an air of orderliness with a lovely smell of Winter Box.
We are greeted by one of the helpful volunteer gardeners and it is solely volunteers who maintain the garden. A useful sheet identifies the plants and we are proudly told the history. On this wet day we are grateful to the council for providing their annual layer of woody bark along the paths. The paths meander through shrubs and trees, some deciduous, some evergreen and many labelled. There are flowering mahonias, viburnums and hellebores. Aconites are struggling through and our favourites, the snowdrops grow cheerfully through the rich brown earth. A volunteer comments disappointingly on their late showing but they are far ahead of mine at home.
We round the corner and look enviously at the organised leaf bins which look like something you might find on a large estate somewhere rather than in a small enclosed garden tucked away next to a bowls club:
It is no wonder there is so much leaf fall as there are over 70 trees grown here. Who said trees are boring in winter? The naked branches are in themselves an art form:
The tulip tree still bears its tiny tulips on the twiggy tips:
While the birch quietly peels its own bark:
And the straight metasequoia reaches elegantly up to the sky:
Natural springs are responsible for the little streams which gently flow through the garden accentuating the area of the plot and culminating in a sizeable pond.
I cannot resist buying a plant or two, sweet Box and snowdrop, a reminder of a remarkable garden nourished by hard work, community spirit and good cheer. Mr Nourish would be well proud.