A lunchtime escape

A tolerable day at work is one when I can go out for some fresh air at lunchtime, without freezing or getting soaked. Last Wednesday was one of the very best for a stroll, the sun was shining, the morning had been dull and I needed some space.

Next door to the hospital where I work, is a psychiatric unit, around 150 years old and set in lovely grounds with original trees. If the ground is dry I often head that way, come along with me. We’ll begin beside the old lodge near the front gate.

It’s like a miniature gothic castle with its crenalations.
Here’s the back entrance. What can we find in the hedge?

I’m surrounded by birdsong, with a robin singing loudest. Look ahead, we’ll check out the trees.

The bluebells are guaranteed to help get rid of the morning’s stresses.


I zigzag from tree to tree, in and out of the hedge.


jw8These fir cones, like my feet, are rather large!


I would  have loved to climb this tree, it looks quite an easy one doesn’t it? The one behind on the left is quite special too,

Look at the chunky bark, it’s been around for a very long time.
On we go towards the perimeter of the grounds, where it’s a bit wilder, and someone’s had lunch already.
Time to curve across the lawn, my half hour is flying by.
But I still need to see that bright tree ahead.
Wow, such a fresh and glowing green!
I linger for a minute, enjoying the shadows, but my time really is up. Thanks to this stroll, the afternoon was manageable, two and a half hours until home time. I’m really lucky with the surroundings at work aren’t I? I hope you enjoyed walking with me, I’m sharing with Jo and looking forward to seeing where she walked.

Cotehele in Monochrome

Jude is looking for monochrome photos for her Garden Challenge in February. She advises us to,

Look for texture, shape and patterns. The subject matter is entirely up to you, but should be loosely garden related

The challenge has made me think about the hard landscape and structures in gardens, rather than just plants. Although I haven’t visited any gardens this year, I’ve found a few possibilities in my archives and this is my second attempt.

There’s still time to get a February entry in, next month is wildlife.

A Contrast of Winter

Jude is having a garden photography challenge this year, and for January the theme is Winter Gardens.

I took the first photo at home a few days ago. I was surprised to see the young bud shooting out, it usually flowers from late April, and like many plants this year it’s confused.


It’s a Beschorneria yuccoides, a Mexican plant that’s been in the garden for about seven years and was a baby, below in 2009’s snow.


Snow doesn’t happen too often in Devon, buds don’t usually sprout on exotic Mexicans in January either!

January: Winter Gardens

Jude’s new challenge has begun, and much as I’ll miss her bench challenge, garden photography is something I love. The theme for January is Winter Gardens, not the easiest when so much is dormant in damp, grey England. She doesn’t mind if we use photos from our archives and luckily I have a few from a visit to Rosemoor a few years ago.


Every winter they have a sculpture exhibition with fascinating pieces displayed throughout the garden, Jude if you’ve never been in winter I recommend it.


Interesting bark like the Acer Griseum in the first photo, and bright golden bamboo adds an extra element when flowers are scarce.

Brightly coloured conifer is a bonus too.


Silver birch always glow beautifully, especially when planted in groups.


Rosemoor is an RHS garden, so of course they know what they’re doing, and good hard landscaping stands out in winter.


This summerhouse is a nice spot, for a bit of a sit down.


Aren’t these doves a delight, perfectly placed, they could almost be real.


This isn’t the first time I’ve posted about Rosemoor in Winter, but in case you’ve known me a long time, I’ve used different photos.

A Stourhead Stroll

It was a friends birthday back in September and we always have a day out for hers and mine. Busyness tends to delay our trips for a few weeks and this year was no exception. Finally we picked October 30th, but the birthday girl could not think of anywhere to go. Hooray, that meant I was forced to decide! We set off on a damp, grey morning, heading north east from Devon, driving in and out of Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset, before arriving in Hovis town, that’s Shaftesbury. After a pootle in some very tempting shops we had coffee and toasted tea cake, then hit the road again.

We don’t do things quickly, so it was 2.30 by the time we reached Stourhead with howling tummies. A quick bowl of soup later and we were ready to roll.

Despite several visits to Stourhead, I’ve never seen the 18th Palladian century mansion that is surrounded by the world famous  Henry Hoare designed garden. I’m sure it must be beautiful, but the grounds win every time. The centrepiece of the garden is the lake, with Gothic buildings, and classical temples dotted around the paths.


A first glimpse of the lake.
and we take the path on the right towards the summerhouse.
The sky was too grey for good reflections, but never mind.
The Pantheon across the water looks closer already.
I wish I’d been able to capture the shimmer of the leaves beneath the water.
We’ve crossed a little part of the dam and there was the little island with it’s tulip tree, Liripdendron Tulipifera, in all its golden splendour.

I like the gentle tilt of these trees.


These still had plenty of scrunch!


Some subtle shade,


and an assortment of hues.
Then the Tulip tree from a different angle.
The temple of Apollo.
Stourhead even has a grotto, here I’m looking out from it towards the bridge, where we began our walk.


Such tranquillity.

You may remember the bench at the front of this pretty little house, the colour was spectacular here.


This is the Pantheon. In 2014 some major restoration work took place, ensuring its future for another couple of hundred years, and it looks magnificent.


I really love that Tulip tree!


But just look at this beauty.


Now we’ve come full circle. The cloud had lifted slightly and it was time for tea and cake in the National Trust café, much deserved even though it wasn’t a long walk. Did you have a good time? I hope Jo did and I wonder where her Monday walk will take us.


Happy Places

Krista’s challenge this week is . . .

Have you ever felt like the world was being a bit too rowdy? Where things and people were pushing in, crowding out your quiet thoughts — the ones that need time and space to surface?

Whenever I feel like an away day it’s invariably to the moor, the coast or a beautiful garden. Luckily there are many, many choices of each in wonderful Devon.
For total escapism there is Dartmoor. There are busy places there, Haytor on a summer weekend has a great many visitors, some of whom do not even get out of their cars. Even there, if you’re prepared to walk and scramble a little way, you will find some peace.
For those in the know there are still places where you might not meet a soul, this is one of them.
dmoor1 copy
Not a lot of rowdiness going on.
For a bit of a stroll and some invigorating sea air, try this Bristol Channel view.
Some of the path can be a bit hard on the knees though!
If a pootle, with lunch or tea and cake is called for – and it often is,
nothing on earth beats an English garden for beauty, peacefulness, fragrance and colour.
Where is your happy place?

Over the Garden Wall at Nyman’s

ny27Yesterday I asked if you could guess what these Alliums were hiding. I think that a couple of you guessed what I meant.

ny21Here’s the house, beautiful isn’t it?

ny18Here’s the hedge behind the alliums.

ny25Fabulous reflections?


Perhaps if we get a little closer.

ny22Some attention needed?

Here are some more alliums, and the very sad and hauntingly beautiful façade of the house.


And another view.

ny26Where you can clearly see that there are very few glazed windows and no reflections . In 1947 Messel’s eldest son Lennie was at home, recuperating from surgery in one of England coldest winters. When the pipes were frozen, a plumber used a blow torch in an attempt to defrost them and a fire broke out. By the time the fire brigade arrived the house was engulfed and those same frozen pipes prevented access to the water needed. Most of the house was lost, as well as several generations of the families treasured collections, including art, horticultural books and irreplaceable items. Just a few rooms and the garden remained intact.

In 1987, Nyman’s fell victim to another disaster. When the great storm hit the country, 486 trees, many rare and very old were lost. By then the National Trust owned the garden and rather than see it as a total disaster, the hurricane damage was seen as an opportunity for regeneration. A garden is never finished and the work at Nyman’s, as in any garden, continues into the future.

ny20If you’re quick, you can see a BBC4 programme, British Gardens in Time, on i player. It tells the history of the garden and the Messel family and is available for about three weeks. Jude, you’ll love the programme if you have time, but otherwise I hope you enjoy your time there. I kind of did these posts on purpose, so that you would visit and photograph it in it’s late summer glory.

For now, I’ll leave you all with the picture of the pretty dove cote.

Romantic Nymans

I’m really glad I discovered Nymans last year, when I was in the south east of England, not somewhere I usually go unless I’m heading for Gatwick. It’s now right up there with my all time favourite gardens to visit. The house and garden, in the Sussex Weald, was built in the late 1800’s, by Ludwig Messel. He wanted to build a dream family home, and he created a stunning garden against the backdrop of the wooded surroundings. He collected unusual plants from around the world and made a romantic paradise.


The long border in June

Some of the border beauties


Heading for the fountain


A refreshing sight


Eyes to the sky


Turn a corner

Find your inner child in a magical woodland path


Retrace  your steps


The planting is beautiful everywhere you turn


Flat topped pudding trees


A box garden with crenellated hedges


This stunning, but simple planting hides a secret for now. What could it be?