St. Paul’s Walden Bury, an 18th Century landscape of Allées, Statuary and Temples

On my way to London last Sunday I took the opportunity to visit St. Paul’s Walden Bury, just off the A1M in Hertfordshire which was open for the National Garden Scheme https://ngs.org.uk/. Appropriately a fine statue of Charity was there to greet us at the entrance.

Standing with our backs to the house on the north side there are three allées lined with crisply cut beech, which radiate out from the lawn and away, down then up, to three ‘eye catchers’ in the distance. This is an 18th Century landscape, the design is known as patte d’oie (goose foot), and my rather flat photo does nothing to prepare you for the sense of scale.

On the lawn just in front of the patte d’oie, a powerful show of masculine strength positively exudes from the two life sized statues; on the left Hercules and Antaeus are entwined with their struggle (a copy of Giambologna’s) whilst on the right Samson is meeting it out of the two Philistines (a copy of Michaelangelo’s).

The three allées lead up to their individual eye catchers on the horizon; the left hand allée draws the eye to a gentler statue; this is of Diana (identical to the one in the Louvre),

the middle allée, the wider of the three, although it is difficult to see, has a statue of Hercules, who we will meet later.

The third allée, the most easterly on the right is perfectly aligned to see the parish church of St. Paul’s Walden Bury.

Two gnarled pleached lime walks flank the lawn in front of the house, and it is from the right hand one that we begin our journey:

An ornate aged stone bench with its equally aged magnolia draws us through and under the pleached branches of the limes,

where we turn right down the stone steps which are sweetly softened by the chance growth of primroses.

We stride off towards the lake, where boughs of blossom and drifts of daffodils grow in harmony on the grassy bank.

The lakeside temple gleaming white looks as if it has been here since the creation of the landscape; however, it was designed by Sir William Chambers in the 18th century for Danson Park, near Bexley Heath and was removed in 1961 to this present site. Surely this is an example of recycling at its best.

Two parallel avenues cross the three main allées and the recycled temple lines up to another temple at the end of the lower avenue. This temple is also recycled, this one was designed by James Wyatt and was removed in 1950 from Copped Hall in Essex.

Rather than going straight across to, shall we call it, the salvaged temple, we turn right and head up the hill taking the very eastern allée. Stopping for a moment to admire the tender statue by Peter Scheemakers of Venus, the goddess of love with Adonis the young hunter; we can’t help thinking that he might have something in his eye?

The areas between the allées are mainly wooded with an occasional splash of a rhododendron.

Continuing up the hill we reach the charming little octagonal brick pavilion dating from 1735, the reason for its name the ‘Organ House’ is not clear.

From here you look down the most northern avenue towards Hercules who also acts as the eye catcher of the central allée,

Hercules has a sweeping view of the house.
It is evident that we are close to Luton airport but it is not just the planes that fly over head.

The allee does not stop directly here but carries on behind Hercules into the countryside. I cannot help but admire the carved-out tree trunk step-over style, standing nearby.

It is like a mythological trail; from Hercules we cross to Diana who stands as the third most westerly eye-catcher. An 18th century statue she is identical to that of one in the Louvre but with a jaunty moss hair do.
Descending towards the house we come to a clearing; it is a turf theatre with classical formal pond and bronze statue of a warrior below,

and two sphinxes with a temple above. It is a quiet controlled space, a contrast to the surrounding wild mature woodland.

The sphinxes are most elegant, one has a bow around her neck the other in her hair, they too have come from Copped Hall and are believed to be portraits of the mistresses of Louis XV, who went by the name of Louis the Beloved.

We wonder, not only at the movement of the static statue but also how he earned the name ‘the Running Footman’. Descending the mossy staircase,

we arrive at the salvaged temple originally seen from across the lake, and feeling we may have completed the 40 acres, think it is surely time for a cup of tea, so we make our way back to the house.

We pass the overgrown ruined orangery,

which must have been part of a more formal garden near to the house and where this photo was probably taken. St. Paul’s Walden Bury was the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, apparently a gardener, she is seen here wheeling her barrow along with her brother Sir David Bowes-Lyon.

This fabulous and mighty oak must have seen many a childhood game played below its branches.

Teas are served from the west side of the house in a secluded courtyard, deliciously homemade they revived us heartily and we took the opportunity to read the guide book where I find, not surprisingly, the photos are so much better than mine.

We realise that in our eagerness to sample the teas we have missed yet another ‘Wrestling’ statue,

and have to hurry on to a wonderful urn containing the ashes of an adored pet, a dog who was ‘the most endearing of his species’,

and in a rustic pond we admire the ability of the cherub who has managed to ride the swan.

With a nod to Old Father Time, we thank the the good ladies who have worked so hard on the gate, and like the numerous visitors we have thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon ramble, and indeed as one lady said ‘Oh it is so good to get out’.

You too can ‘get out’ as the garden will be open again on Sunday 15th May and also on Sunday 12th June: for opening times visit https://findagarden.ngs.org.uk/garden/1677/st-pauls-walden-bury

From up high on a wall this little one sends us on our way, did she inspire the royal wave we once knew

*******APRIL*2021*******

Beguiling Burghley

Set within a large delightful park designed by Capability Brown, there is much for a visitor to do at Burghley in normal times: https://www.burghley.co.uk/about-us . Many will know the landscape from enjoying walks around the park, or a visit to the Sculpture Garden and the Garden of Surprises, and many will know Burghley from the famous horse trials held each September. However many may not know the Private South Garden which is seldom open but is hidden away behind the Great House. In 2019 I had a very enjoyable afternoon with a friend when the South Garden was open for the National Garden Scheme.

A far too great a distance for us to bike, but I wish I could have done so, if only to use this ingenious bicycle rack.

The entrance to the South Garden is via the Orangery and it feels strange ascending stairs in order to get out into a garden.

The Orangery restaurant on my left (closed at the moment but soon to re-open) and the garden gate to the South Garden is open through the Orangery Garden.

Such a handsome lion watches us quietly,

and a fountain drips gently through the aged moss into the formal pond,

whilst at the base of a pillar a splash of blue catches our eye growing miraculously from within the stonework.

Through the gate a vast expanse of croquet lawn appears before us, and we are drawn towards the dark forms of yew in the distance. Space is certainly not a problem here,

and it is what is required to compliment this great building, one of the largest and grandest houses of the first Elizabethan age. Built between 1555 and 1587 by William Cecil, Lord Burghley, the Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I.

The dark green forms are clipped into shapes, some still work-in-progress, this one perhaps awaiting the emergence of a lion?

Here we see a display of loyalty to the Crown of which the first Lord Burghley would surely have approved.

Who could have imagined such a splendid march of whimsical topiary?

Beds of roses, pruned, trained and mulched are awaiting the warmer weather, and the seasonal lack of colour gives us the opportunity to appreciate the layout and beauty of the many fountains and urns,

Look at the detail of the intertwined serpent handles and wise old faces. To the side stands a mighty English oak Quercus robur described by the Woodland Trust as ‘The ruling majesty of the woods, the wise old English oak holds a special place in our culture, history, and hearts.’ A description truly appropriate to this fine specimen which was planted in 1844 by Her Majesty Queen Victoria.

At the far end of the walk is the jetty extending out over the lake; a perfect spot for that wild swimming we are encouraged to enjoy nowadays. It is a freezing cold day and I am relieved to find nobody is tempted, and so we turn to face the house,

the view of which is far more exhilarating than taking the plunge.

I always think there is something rather mystical about mistletoe growing high up in a tree but now it is a joy to see it close up on the lower branches.

We move around from the south side to the west; little wonder that Horace Walpole referred to Burghley as “A noble pile! ” We marvel at all things ancient, including the trees. Queen Elizabeth I is reputed to have planted this Lime tree.

I am sure those twisted branches could tell a tale or two…..

One would not wish to leap the Ha Ha, as it is quite deep. A cunning device, the Ha Ha physically separates the lawns from this Brownian park without dividing it visually.

and if you did wish to attempt to climb the fence, you might be restrained by this ornate but effective barrier.

In fact everything has been designed with beauty in mind, nothing more so than these golden gates made by Jean Tijou in 1693; just imagine taking your sundowner with this as the backdrop.

We retrace our steps around the south side taking in the charm of more topiary creatures, this time a snail,

and here, a wee mouse,

and a cunningly created two-faced fox, or is it a bear?

We leave the characters on the flat but sunny south side of the house and ascend the hill towards the east.

In front of a bank of blossom stands yet another magnificent urn where even the snakes seem to smile.

It is less formal here with a variety of narcissi bringing a feel of springtime under foot,

and Snake’s head fritillary Fritillaria meleagris nodding in the breeze. Years ago one might buy these delicate flowers in Covent Garden for just a penny or two, supplied by children who would gather them from the meadows along the River Thames where they grew in abundance.

However good the faithful hounds of the household were, they are surely not forgotten; how a headstone can say it all.

Around the corner is a charming neo-Jacobean banqueting house set on a sloping lawn. The front overlooks the lake,

with a simply stunning back door.

It is behind here that a tennis court has been sited; I am not sure whether Brown would approve but I am sure he would find the ornate bench the perfect place from which to watch the game.

A boat house sited across the other side of the lake was built in 1871 and replaced an earlier building. 

This is a shrubby area with mature cedars growing elegantly by the lake.

We return to the orangery garden and my friend admires the neat chestnut paling fence.

The south garden was one of the original gardens to open for the National Garden Scheme back in 1927 and if you have missed this weekend’s opening, I thoroughly recommend a visit when it next opens for the Scheme this time next year. https://ngs.org.uk/view-garden/1387

It is also the 500th anniversary of the birth of Lord Burghley, with a series of lectures intended at Burghley House https://www.burghley.co.uk/news/lord-burghley-500th-anniversay-lecture-series and I am looking forward to learning more about the great man at the symposium to be delivered via Zoom from the Garden Museum later this month https://gardenmuseum.org.uk/events/burghley-500-symposium/

Chelsea Physic Garden

I was in London last Friday and being such a glorious day I could not resist a visit. Situated in such an attractive part of London the walk through the streets of Chelsea full of magnolia blossom was a delight in itself.

Approaching this haven of four acres surrounded by high walls, I slipped in through the unassuming entrance in Swan Street.

Joining the small friendly queue I was able to admire these beautiful woven masterpieces created by weaver Tom Hare http://www.tomhare.net/.

The real mission of my visit was to try and meet up with an old friend who I trained with and who helped me through my RHS Diploma. She has recently became Deputy Head of the Plant Collections and I was thrilled to find her in her natural pose, bent over and nearly hidden in the flower bed.

It is a remarkable garden originally created in 1673 by the Apothecaries in which to grow medicinal plants; it is a museum – a living museum that can be enjoyed at all levels. On this warm Spring day the place was very much alive; I followed some visitors walking these neat paths absorbed in the informative audio guide, and

others who were simply enjoying the sunshine with their little ones,

whilst others gently dozed having enjoyed a delicious lunch at the cafe.

This pond was being much admired. Raised and surrounded by all sorts of little gems, it was the Tulipa heweri from N. Afghanistan that were winning the day.

There is so much here to learn and admire and, unusually for me, I decided to focus on the conservatory.

Cacti are not usually my thing but here they are so artistically displayed.

Here too, like a miniature garden with a stream running through, is the habitat of the Pitcher Plants Sarracenia,

a place where these extraordinary plants can thrive and dine out on their meal of flies.

Gardens are not just about plants. Here displayed in the borders, are the plants associated with various great men who have been connected with this garden. This bed commemorates Philip Miller who was gardener here for 48 years from 1722 to 1770, surely a lengthy period for any gardener.

There are other great names celebrated within these walls, most notably Sir Hans Sloane the primary benefactor, whose statue stands in the centre of the garden. In 1712 Sloane bought the Manor of Chelsea from Charles Cheyne leasing the garden to the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London for just £5 a year in perpetuity. The Garden still pays this sum to Sloane’s descendants to this day.

Other great horticultural names include William Forsyth and Sir Joseph Banks and this walk is named after botanist and apothecary William Hudson FRS, who published Flora Anglica in 1762.

As I stroll along absorbing the fascinating history of this place, the buds of the tree of the Quince Cydonia oblonga seem to shout out that Spring is here,

and down on the ground this is echoed by the cocooned head of a salvia indica first described by the taxonomist Carl Linnaeus in 1753.

‘Plants are the most important living things on earth’ and their evolution on this planet is explained in The Thomas Moore Fernery. Moore was the Victorian curator who made the Garden the foremost collection of medicinal plants in Britain.

‘A plant for every Nook and Cranny’ can be identified in this interesting arrangement.

You can absorb all these interesting facts or simply just enjoy the plants so helpfully and clearly labelled; I love this magnolia laevifolia ‘Velvet & Cream’ not only for its perfect blossom but also its delicious name.

It is not so much a designed garden but an organised garden where paths lead you through different and delightful areas; the enchanting Stachyurus chinensis grows on the edge of the woodland area,

and the mighty trunks of the Gingko bilabo stretch to the sky. This tree has such significance and is considered to be the oldest tree on earth. The seeds originally relieved asthma and bronchitis and its modern use is to improve memory and circulation; I need to take note.

‘Useful plants’ are displayed in and around a theatre; it is remarkable to find out their uses both ancient and modern.

When I see Bamboo I am always reminded of its immense strength, remembering once seeing it used as tower block scaffolding in Hong Kong.

A helicopter is clattering above keeping an eye on the march that I can hear proceeding along the Chelsea Embankment. For a brief moment I am irritated that here, even in this haven there is no escaping Brexit. Looking up, the helicopter is not visible and all I can see are the blooms of Paulownia lilacina reminiscent of wallpaper.

My daughter used to groan as I invariably gravitated towards the composting area of a garden; she now knows its importance and here two little heads of Drimys Winteri at the gate seem to welcome me in.

Tucked away in the South East corner, I am so pleased it is open for all to see.

Clean and efficient, the engine room of the garden, the bins are brimming with goodness.

Looking across one area of the garden there is a similarity to allotments but without the sheds and general debris that goes with them. These are the beds laid out in order of plant families,

and there is much activity today; the gardeners are so busy. Who would think you need to water in March?

I am surprised to find a rose in flower, with a relaxed informal habit and with single cherry-red flowers, Rosa x odorata ‘Bengal Crimson’, it is said to flower here nearly every day of the year. I have just planted one at home and will have to see.

Glasshouse areas can often be so dull and unappealing but here the verdant plants and arranged pots draw you in,

with each house having a glorious display.

They sum up the high horticultural standards of this magical and fascinating garden.

The bell rings to announce closing time and it seems no one is in a hurry to leave.


Open yesterday for the National Garden Scheme, the Garden is open from 11am to 6pm. Not only a botanical beauty (with over 5,000 plants, edible, medicinal and useful), and an exploration of garden history, it is glorious place to spend an afternoon.

https://www.chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk/Pages/Category/history.

The Garden Museum

If you find yourself in London and you simply can’t face the noise and swirl of shoppers and traffic then I can recommend a quiet visit to the delightful Garden Museum located south of the river in a church right next door to Lambeth Palace.

The Church of St. Mary-at-Lambeth was made redundant in the early 1970s. Boarded up and ready for demolition it was fortunate that Rosemary and John Nicholson visited the churchyard in search of the tombs of the gardeners and plant collectors father and son John Tradescant . Subsequently the Nicholsons formed the Tradescant Trust which basically saved the church and converted it into the worlds first museum dedicated to Garden History. Glass doors quietly slide open doing away with that hideous clerical creaky door syndrome….

….inside it is spacious and well lit; a fantastic use of a parochial building, modern but without destroying that old ecclesiastical feel.

Delighted that my Art Fund pass ( https://www.artfund.org/national-art-pass) allowed me half price entrance I headed for the small room to the side which holds the present exhibition on the life and career of Humphry Repton (1752 – 1818).

Last year was the bicentenary of Repton’s death and there has been much research undertaken. This exhibition brings together objects, watercolours and some 24 of his Red Books. These leather bound books were his designs, works of art and a clever marketing tool for his commissions from clients up and down the country. One book stands out that is the grand design for Brighton Pavilion, yet it proved to be a commission Repton failed to win possibly due to the fact that he failed to respond quickly enough; you just cannot keep Royalty waiting.

Included in the exhibition is a short film, a clever digital animation bringing the art of Repton alive; the smoke seems to drift away in the far distance and with the soothing narration from Jeremy Irons you feel you are part of that landscape.

What I really enjoyed about this exhibition is how Repton’s legacy lives on. Although after his death he seems to have been rather forgotten in this country, he became a role model for American landscape architects who wanted to combine the design of buildings and landscape with horticulture and the science of transportation. Repton had advised his clients of the importance of ‘The approach’ incorporating it as a feature in the landscape. He was very interested in travel, enjoying roads as ‘a constant moving scene’ and felt they should not be hidden. His ideas influenced the design of the carriage rides in Central Park, New York.

‘Others prefer still-life, I delight in movement’ and Repton realised that we observe landscape at a fast pace (even from a carriage) very often from the curving sightline of a road and this theory of optics was applied to the new roads being developed for Americans to enjoy their scenery such as the Parkway and the Sky Drive.

With his ideas of integrating architecture and landscape, Repton became a major influence on Denis Lasdun, he of University of East Anglia fame.

A small photo shows Lasdun visiting Repton’s grave (which Repton designed himself) made into a Christmas card that I realise was sent from a family I had known in my childhood and suddenly I too felt I had made a tiny connection with the great landscape designer himself.

With much still to see of the museum I hurried on past a group being shown the Walcot room, a small library tucked behind the rood screen,


just glancing up at the little stained glass window above.

I moved on into a small room that houses a collection of ‘curiosities’. These items were collected by John Tradescant, gardener to Robert Cecil and later to King Charles 1. Tradescant created Britain’s first Museum not far away in Lambeth which became known as The Ark. Lawyer, friend and neighbour Elias Ashmole published a catalogue and when Tradescant junior died the collection was bequeathed to Ashmole and became the foundation of the Ashmolean Museum.

 Such items range from the cast of a Dodo head,

the rather quirky Barometz or ‘Vegetable Lamb’ believed to be half-lamb and half-plant from the 18th century,

 a glittering collection of shells,

to a Herball by John Gerard dated 1597 in which over 1,000 plants are described.

It is a very active museum and I suddenly realise that Elias Ashmole is speaking to me.

Upstairs is a glorious collection celebrating British gardening through the years. Suitable for all ages it is a delightful mix from paintings…

 a portrait of a relaxed Prince Charles greets us at the top of the stairs.

Many famous people connected to gardening have contributed archives and objects and it is a wonderful eclectic mix. Amongst the many items in the collection is a gardening hat belonging to garden designer Nancy Lancaster (1897 – 1994),

a Certificate of Good Service in the Women’s Land Army, yes that is all they got after ten years hard work.

And wouldn’t you have longed to give your wife this glorious lawn mower.

Amongst the displays are interesting information boards on a variety of plants – not too many just enough to realise the serious side of gardening.

and of course there just had to be a jolly old gnome.

From a small window in the Finnis Scott Gallery where you can become totally absorbed on the works of the Artist gardeners, you can look down and once again remember that you are in a fine building .

There is a good display of plans executed by various Garden Designers over the years, this masterpiece is by Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe (1900 -1996).

Video clips introduce us to influential landscape architects like Charles Jencks.

 At the other end of the raised gallery there is a fine collection of tools;

a 17th century glazed earthenware watering pot,

and even a standard potting shed with audible displays of the stories of six people and the different ways they have utilised their sheds.

The shed comes complete with a fine weather vane.

Within the walls of the museum is a small charming courtyard garden designed by Dan Pearson; all the plants growing are helpfully listed in a book,

and it is here that the fine tomb of John Tradescant can be found,

surrounded by a variety of all-year-round plants including the bright berries of Nandina domestica which reminds me that I still have not purchased this beautiful shrub yet.

Sadly on this occasion I do not have time to visit the award-winning restaurant; it is buzzing and smells divine and I can really recommend it from a previous visit.

The Garden Museum is a charity and the National Garden Scheme annually funds a trainee gardener here. Before today I had never really thought about the definition of a gardener, but the museum informs me that the first recording was ‘Edmund the Gardener’ who worked at Windsor Castle during the reign of King Edward l. In 1605 the profession was recognised by James l “for the trade, craft or misterie of gardening” and an apprenticeship took 7 years. By 1914 there were over 4,000 Head Gardeners in this country. And now?

The Garden museum is open most days but you can check for opening times on the website: https://gardenmuseum.org.uk/ do make a visit and take the children they would love it.

——-2019——-

Madingley Hall, gardens and health. (8/18)

Having spent a tedious morning on the phone to the Department of Work & Pensions, followed by a lengthy call to BT to try and sort out longstanding internet problems, I decided it was time to visit a garden and restore my equilibrium. Twitter brought my attention to the fact that Madingley Hall was opening its gates as part of the NGS Gardens and Health week.

Driving through the impressive iron gates and sweeping up the drive, the big blue sky and the gentle green meadow had an instant calming effect.

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Having parked the car I found the entrance to the estate is through the walled garden. This dates back to the 18th century, with the first recording being of a plant inventory dated 1757. Today a blackboard notes the plants of particular interest.

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Two gravel paths diverged……… and I am faced with the age-old dilemma, which one should I take ?

The borders are overflowing with every type of herb to promote well-being;

aromatic…

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medicinal…

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culinary…

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Not only are these plants of a curative nature, but also many can be used for dyeing. Much information about the history and use of these plants is displayed and I realise that I could do much to alter my wardrobe.

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Enclosed by hedges the sunken garden is a delightful spot to sit and soak up the sun; planted with white flowers such as perennial sweet pea and gaura lindheimeri, it is softened by the gentle clumps of stipa tenuissima.

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There is such variety within these walls, a wooden rose pergola runs roughly from north to south providing much-needed shade rather than colour at this time of year.

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Mature trees also provide plenty of canopy and across the curiously patterned round lawn is a circular raised alpine bed.

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where the tiny autumn snowflake Acis autumnalis seems a little premature on this warm summer’s day.

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Running from east to west is the fine hazel walk Corylus avellana  shown on the tithe map of 1849; it is a lengthy 60 metres (just under 200ft) long.

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The path emerges from the mature planting into an open expanse of lawn with a thatched summerhouse nestling in the corner.

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No sense of autumn approaching here; the border has plenty in flower, hibiscus, heliotrope, alstoemeria and helenium all provide late summer colour.

Leaving the walled garden through a door in the wall and passing the crenelated box hedge on my right I descend some steps to the courtyard in front of the Hall.

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Over the ornamental pond and to my horror, I find a patient abandoned on a hospital trolley. Startled, I wonder that it must be the first corpse I have found in a garden, then realise I have blundered into a serious first-aid course and, being of the somewhat lightheaded disposition, I quickly scurry away and

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take deep breaths in front of the heavenly hibiscus.

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At the east end of the Hall is a formal raised terraced garden with a circular pond surrounded by smooth quirky-shaped topiary.

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The view east to the lake is totally unspoilt and uncluttered.

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Stepping down to the wide North Walk, I see the balustrade is repeated along the edge of the croquet lawn,

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broken at the centre to reveal an avenue of giant clipped yew bollards marching into the far distance.

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It is a fine view for this small statue of a buddha protected behind a semi-circular pond and perched in a recess in the wall.

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Madingley Hall was built in the 1540s and the development of the garden over the years is a fine example of the history of garden design. Growing at the west end is a large yew taxus baccata, which is thought to date back to when ‘Capability’ Brown improved the estate.

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The yew topiary garden was created in the 1920s when some of the topiary were transferred from nearby Histon Manor.  Waiting for their annual clip the different shapes seemingly move around an astrolabe mounted in the centre on a stone plinth.

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A large elegant croquet lawn with its backdrop of mature trees, must have provided plenty of entertainment over the years. The game is still played today by the many students and staff who now occupy the Hall, which was bought by Cambridge University 1948.

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There is a different feel down on this north side of the site; here it is spacious, green, still and silent. Today the majestic trees are quite lovely; upright, spreading, weeping and clipped they create a verdant theatre.

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Some trees are multi stemmed and like a cluster of balloon strings they reach up to the sky. IMG_1166

The wild flower meadows have finished their display but next May they will return. Richard Gant, the Head Gardener is tidying the edges of the clipped yews. He has been responsible for these gardens for 30 years. The names of the trees roll off his tongue, for his knowledge and enthusiasm is truly impressive.

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And it is as if this weeping Redwood, Wellingtonia (sequoiadendron giganteum ‘Pendula’) bows its head in respect.

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Sadly this Cedar of Lebanon, Cedrus libani is unwell with white rot caused by a type of bracket fungus. Now fenced off, the decay of this tree is being closely monitored.

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I follow the dog walkers along  the wooded path, a section of the route created to celebrate the 300 years of Capability Brown.

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It is a beautiful spot enjoyed by the locals. By the lakeside the remains of the footings of the old boat house are guarded by a “lake keeper” who is in fact surprisingly friendly.

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From the other side of the lake you can see the small church tucked in to the left of the drive. I have completed my walk and so I return back through the gates and up the drive to the hall.

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Madingley Hall is an institute of continuing education and a centre for events and conferences. The 8 acre garden sits within an estate of some 12,500 acres; it is beautifully maintained and reads like a manual on garden history with the different areas reflecting the changing trends in design throughout the garden’s life. It is impressive too and thanks to the Head Gardener, Madingley has been opening its gates for the NGS for the past 27 years.

The NGS have worked hard to highlight the connection between health and gardens, having commissioned the King’s Fund a few years ago to publish a report. My visit today endorsed the feeling of well being that a garden can induce and after such an enjoyable and peaceful afternoon, I left the Hall in a better state of mind than when I entered.

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Repton and his business

It is the bicentenary of the death of Humphry Repton, he of the Red Book fame. There are many events organised and gardens gates opening throughout the year. This piece was so interesting that I am reblogging.

The Gardens Trust

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  If you hadn’t already realised 2018 is Repton Year, when we’re commemorating the life and work of the last great landscape designer of the eighteenth century.  Unlike the Festival for his ‘predecessor’ Capability Brown there is no great central nationally funded organization. Instead Celebrating Humphry Repton  will be a collaborative effort, which, even though although it can’t match the funding of CB300,  looks certain to match the enthusiasm and spread of interest nationally.  County Gardens Trusts and other groups will be arranging events around the country throughout the year to celebrate Repton’s work. You can find a list – continually being updated – at this dedicated webpage on  The Gardens Trust website.  If you would like to get involved or receive updates email repton@thegardenstrust.org. The more people who join in, the better the celebration!

And of course the blog is going to play its small part.  Repton has…

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