It was lovely to have a friend accompany me on the drive to Horncastle. We had not met up for awhile so inevitably there was a lot of catching up to be done and consequently we missed a turning!
It did not matter; it was a lovely day, sunshine at last and Spring was forcing through the Fens. We were cheered by the profusion of daffodils growing along the verges and the soft green of the willows.
Parking by the church in the town centre, we found The Manor House nearby hidden away behind high walls. The entrance was attended by two charming gentleman who politely opened the Glossy Green Garden Gate for us.
In through this doorway we are greeted by an explosion of spring flowers edging a neat lawn and growing on up the path to the front door. It is an endearing house and from the upstairs windows the faces of geraniums eagerly look out at the arriving visitors; a tradition carried on by the present owners who have been here for five years.
The simple planting is so effective; daffodils, yellow and white, large and small. Hyacinths, Polyanthus, Violets, Tulips and Wood Anemones mingle together to provide a delightful tapestry of colour.
The bright border runs along the edge of the path and along front of the house. Either side of the front door is a pair of urns or should I call them jardinieres?
I am reminded of Gertrude Jekyll who wrote ‘There are some English words which have no equivalent in French, but then there are a great many more French words for which we have no English. One of these is jardiniere.’ I won’t go on.
What might she have said about the font which stands solidly near the door positioned to be seen from all directions.
Directly opposite the house is a border running along the boundary wall. Traditional repeat planting consists of sky rocket juniper and a type of cotoneaster tree with planters alternated with clumps of hellebores interwoven amongst spring bulbs.
The planters are repeated all around this part of the garden, they provide some structure and a softening green.
Big handfuls of Hellebores enjoy the dappled shade.
At the end of the bed and in the corner of the lawn is an elegant metal tree seat.
By the house an empty pot sits amongst a tangle of fig branches.
We edge along the side of the house, shaded at this time of the day.
and down the covered ramp which links us to a lower area of garden.
Akebia quinata twines amongst the trellis and is just coming into flower.
The level lawn under the watchful tower of the church, is surely the perfect place for a game of croquet.
A small gentle coloured chaenomeles grows against the wall enjoying the full sunshine.
There are not only single-headed hellebores but also a rich double. Why can’t they raise their heads a little?
An old apple tree is also underplanted with spring bulbs and stands in front of the vegetable plot.
Behind all this, it is a surprise to find even more. A large informal orchard stretches down to the River Bain. Visitors are able to sit and enjoying the peace.
I had forgotten what it was like to look up at the blue sky.
At home I spend a lot of time pulling out comfrey and here it is looking good controlled and in the shade under a tree.
A medieval well is backed by a short section of ancient wall.
By the back door is a small enclosed square garden.
Visitors like to look everywhere and we are no exception. Even the seemingly uninteresting places around the back become fascinating.
Pink bergenia fill a space in the shade to the North of house.
Several small statues appear around the garden and this little lady enjoys the shelter of the evergreen shrubs.
We retrace our steps back along the sunny path to the gate.
And feel the contrast of dappled shade just to the right of the gate
There has been a good flow of visitors, some with their children others with well-behaved dogs. They appear to be in no hurry to leave.
We do have just one criticism which we share with the owner, surely the entrance fee should be a little more. It is his first opening and he is too modest to agree.
The kind gentlemen are still content at the gate. They explain to us that this was for many years the holiday home of the Bishops of Carlisle who owned much of the land around here. We wonder where they go now?
Across the way back to the Church of St. Mary’s, we enjoy our cheese scones and fruit cake under the watchful eye of the most beautiful gilded angels