Last Tuesday I was in London. A cold wind blew as I crossed Clapham Common and cut to the Chase. This evening’s opening followed on from the previous Sunday’s when visitors had turned up in their hundreds. We were fortunate to have a fairly small and select gathering to this evening opening.
Select it was; the first visitors we came across were two garden owners from Norfolk. Out of context we were all momentarily confused but soon rallied to our senses and were able to delight in the success of their recent opening at Wretham Lodge.
I was keen to see the The Chase, my first NGS London garden which has been created over many years by a member of the Society of Garden Designers.
There was far more to my visit than I expected…
We entered the garden along a path by the side of the house. I have learnt that a lawn roller, does not always signify that there will be mown grass.
Potted hydrangeas stand before the euphorbia mellifera and mark the shaded entrance into the garden.
Despite the shade there is plenty of underplanting, greenery and colour,
with a decorative canopy of laburnum flowers falling from above.
Looking up first at the house, my husband was delighted to find mesembryanthemum, memories of childhood in Guernsey where it invades the cliff paths. Here it trails down from the tulip-clad balcony.
I can’t help but notice a shower head on the wall below, and I wonder at the experience of having a hot shower outside. It is a very chilly day.
A pair stone ornaments decorate the balcony; they look ancient with a vaguely modern twist,
and from here you get a good view over the garden. Lovely old-fashioned lilac grows up against the fence on the left hand side.
A plethora of planting fills the space either side of the central path. Not a patch of grass to be seen.
Coronilla valentina grows on either side and fills the garden with fragrance.
There are hundreds of tulips; these, mixed with irises.
and beyond the low growing apples they appear to us like a Persian carpet.
Then, on the path we come across a cameraman quietly filming.
I really hope that he has noticed the glorious tree peony behind him.
The sound man seems to grow up quite naturally from behind the rosemary.
Deeply intent on his job I wonder if he has glimpsed the colourful mix.
Another cameraman has taken up position on the higher balcony.
And then quite suddenly, I find myself on set. My interviewer, a gentle Mary Berry-like lady is easy and charming and we chat for awhile. It is a surreal moment.
The husband takes refuge in the ‘Eden project’ type glasshouse where with some amusement he surveys the scene.
Enjoying a lemon or two.
The interview is but a brief interlude in our visit and we resume our walk towards the end of the garden.
A delicate flower on the substantial camellia bush which fills a corner and helps to screen the neighbours beyond.
What better way to use the old office chairs.
You can swivel round and admire the emerging flower of melianthus major behind. It looks a lot happier than my weather beaten specimen at home.
Or admire the purple leaves of the cotinus bringing out the flash of colour from the tulips.
The central point at the end of the garden is the ascent of steps. They give clever elevation and add extra space to the garden which all in all, is not very large.
At the top of the steps is a fine metallic bull enjoying the shade from tall trees.
Returning to the house, the explosion of yellow brightens the now darkening evening light.
A patch of iris confusa chengdu grows happily in the shade and I make a mental note to grow it at home.
I am a little surprised to find what appears to be a rosa banksiae lutea also in the shade scrambling over a tree.
Exotic Brugmansia appears quite content to be outside.
Tulips are not just confined to the garden behind the house; this cheerful parrot variety line the neat gravel path by the front door. It is a welcoming area and good to see plenty of planting and no room for parking.
A mature and magnificent medlar grows near the door.
It has been a beautiful garden and a memorable visit. Fun to have an evening opening which is clearly popular for a younger generation of visitor seeking and finding inspiration for their own garden. Great too to have Channel More4 promoting the gardens and the good work of the NGS. An unusual take from my normal visits, I have no doubt that I am destined for the cutting room floor!