My family were here this weekend, and when we got up on Sunday morning, it had begin to warm up after a cold, grey start to June. To make the most of the weather we made our way to Grey’s Court, one of my favourite National Trust properties. The gardens there are stunning and I knew they also held a wild surprise!
By the time we got there the sky was blue and the sun was shining. Everywhere looks better in the sunshine, and Grey’s Court was looking particularly beautiful. We admired the laburnum, gloriously yellow. The gardens are split into a series of garden rooms to explore. In one we breathed deeply to take in the beautiful scent of roses. We marvelled at the red valerian growing high up on the partially ruined walls leading up to the tower. We explored the 125 year old wisteria, wonderfully twisted, strong but fragile, with a sweet gentle scent from the drooping white and lilac blooms.
In the vegetable garden scores of bees were buzzing, exploring the mint and the fried egg flowers.
By the maze an azalea was bursting with yellow blooms, a subtle scent floating through the warm air around it, a much more intense scent when you leaned in and breathed deeply. On the fruit trees lichens grew, grey and green and scaly but strangely beautiful. The most beautiful part of the garden on this visit was the arch of clematis. The flowers were breathtaking. Saucers of colour as big as your head. Bug, blowsy blooms, like a water colour painting some to life with wide stripes of colour across the petals and delicately inked lines on the underside. The purple flowers were slightly smaller, more delicate, a swirling pattern of petal with a hairy centre.
In the white garden, the wild surprise lurked in the water of the pond, down near the bottom, hard to see against the muddy base, and odd snatches of movement under the lily pads, a rare creature, alike to a wet lizard, with a crest along his back. Have you guessed what creature this is yet? That’s right, in this ornamental pond great crested newts are found. And if you get your eyes adjusted to the colours and look carefully, they’re fairly easy to see. We watched them and pointed one out to some children so they could see too. Sadly, the light was too difficult to get a picture, with my camera wanting on to pick up the reflections on the water’s surface. Above the water, damselflies darted and copulated. Along one lily pad four courting couples perched, males above clasped on to the females who dangled into the water below, ovipositing the next generation. A quick clatter of wings and a glance up to see a golden flash as a dragon flew overhead, a broad bodied chaser, a jewel whizzing past.
In the shop, I bought a solitary bee house, which is now up in the garden. I hope we’ll get some inhabitants soon!
Back at home and in the garden work got underway to reposition the honeysuckle, which had fallen in strong winds, bringing down our bird box of baby great tits with it. The tits survived and have fledged, so now was the time to get the plant back up and well supported and the nest box safe and hidden once more. It also gives us the chance now to replant underneath the honeysuckle and to see what plants had survived their several weeks hidden under the fallen shrub.
In the late evening, family safely home, house and garden quiet I stepped outside to watch the flaming ball of sun drop through the clear, cloudless sky, like a view across an African savannah, all orange and gold, the scent of honeysuckle drifting across the garden and the gentle sounds of the world settling for sleep.