It was on a sunny day in late May that I visited College Farm, Haddenham, not far from Ely in Cambridgeshire. Described in the Handbook as having walks, gallery and a sculpture cattle yard, it was looked to be an artist’s home.
A well organised operation was in force for car parking and, having left mine in the very long grass, I was grateful for a dry day. Passing the pond and buildings I proceeded on the first walk in the field opposite.
A white stone penguin pointed the way…
Followed by an owl…
Then further birds continued to mark the mown path,
until I reached the sundial. A couple were seated on the bench there,
waiting to see the kingfisher and enjoying the sound of chattering sparrows in the hedges behind the wild pond.
Returning along the same path, I walked into the farmyard where a collection of sculptures was displayed under the cover of the old buildings.
Pots of Sweet William softened the hard landscaped yard.
Curly corkscrew hazel, salix matsudana ‘Tortuoso’ just seemed to grow out of the concrete.
Pushing through the elderflower and willow I found more art displayed in a cattle shed.
On the edge of the yard the lupins in the flowerbed provided a splash of colour,
whilst the archway beckoned you to follow the path into the meadow beyond.
A bank of oxeye daisy, pale coloured lupin and hazel, framed the view towards the grazing cattle.
Along a small ridge is the ‘Top Walk’ where I find the same couple who were sitting by the pond have beaten me to this bench.
No doubt they are enjoying the fenland view towards the neighbouring church of Sutton.
Rugosa roses are planted in groups along the walk, papery white
the bright pink, which is favoured by a bee.
There are wild roses too.
I follow the path back to the meadow in front of the house. This lady has the best view of us all.
Visitors flowed through the fields following the paths amidst the long grass. This path led directly back down to the house.
A line of silver birch trees, some weeping and others upright, have been planted in the field.
Near to the house a ceramic sculpture hanging from a mature tree catches the light and reflects the assortments of greens that surround it.
An archway of roses leads you over the stream to the lawn in front of the house.
Looking back you can see it links the long grass of the meadow to the mown lawn by the house.
The pond, probably once trodden by cattle, has water lilies flowering at one end with the silvery willows reflected in the still water.
Water spouts from a little fountain in a smaller pond.
I meet Poppy the friendly resident JRT; she must be in heaven living here.
After visiting the gallery attached to the house, I return to my car passing an artist’s palette of roses covering the wall of the farm building.
Again I bump into the same couple that I seemed to have followed around; we comment on the fact that it is unusual and indeed one of the few NGS gardens that we have encountered that does not serve tea. Of course it is a benefit for those of us who eat far too much cake, however on this hot day, that cuppa would have gone down well.
Feeling that we have passed the awkwardness of strangers I dare to ask if they have enjoyed the garden; a tiny pause is followed by their question of “What is a garden?” It is not until I return home that I find the answer to the question; Wikipedia says:
A garden is a planned space, usually outdoors, set aside for the display, cultivation, and enjoyment of plants and other forms of nature. The garden can incorporate both natural and man-made materials.
College Farm certainly filled that criteria; an artist’s garden displaying variety and talent, enriched by the natural farm setting.