Saturday, May 12, 2007

Garden visiting

Today I took a small break from revisions. Actually it was in between drafts and so it is good to get my brain clear. We drove up to a friend's house in the Scottish borders. They were opening it for charity.

I was always envious of their old garden, but their new garden is absolutely glorious. 10 acres covered in a riot of azaleas, rhododendrons and other acid loving plants. They are right on the river Annan and the weather is just slightly more mild. Thus many things were slightly further on. Purple alliums vied with pink oriental poppies to create a carpet of colour. In the evenings, otters play in the upper pond. Unfortunately the house was built in 1863. An admiral and shipping magnate had it built so he could watch the water. And so I could not really used it for research purposes but it was one of those hidden gems that made me -- yes this is what Britain is supposed to be like.

Because of the scale of the garden, I couldn't be envious. All I could do was enjoy.

Now is the time of year to go garden visiting. The spring bulbs may be over, but the rhododendrons, azaleas and roses are just coming into bloom. By visiting the private gardens open for charity, it gives one a chance to snoop around and think about settings. When we lived in our old village, the annual garden open day was affectionately known as the garden snoop around. And there is one house -- the Newbrough Park that I still need to find a story for. It just is. And the owner of Newbrough Park during the Regency period has a life story that read like a Catherine Cookson novel -- illegitimate, abandoned on her father's doorstep, her grandmother insisted that she be brought up properly as the father had seduced a gentlewoman. She never married and became one of the largest landowners in the North East. Equally Nunwick Hall near is fascinating with its hostas growing in the ruins of the convent.

So do yourself a favour -- visit a garden today.

Anyway, the final edits of my Viking are calling. Hopefully my editors will like what I have done.


Anonymous said...

I love many of the walled gardens. Did you take any pictures?

Anonymous said...

Would you please stop giving me lightbulbs? *g*

Actually, my country house book has had the green light, so today I would love to be going out to a garden. (17th-century parterre - admittedly I have lot of pics going back to the time I first visited the place with my parents, but the rhododenrons are out this month and...)

However, it is due to bucket down here after lunch, so I guess I'll be staying in to do my accounts.

Hope the revisions are going well. Has anyone written a biog of the owner of Newbrough Park? (Sending lightbulb back your way...)

Anonymous said...

One of the delights of the writerly world is indeed taking a creative break. Sometimes these can stretch out for months if we're really good at it. :-) But I do love visiting gardens I can't afford and are marvellous show-off places. Makes me appreciate my small bit of earth when I come home.

Michelle Styles said...

I forgot my camera Michelle, but I must remember to go out and take some pictures of my own garden...if only to keep a record. We were looking at pictures of the garden last night and it is intersting to see how far we have progressed in ten years.

LOL on the light bulbs Kate as you are always giving them to me.

It would be interesting to write a biography. I shall have to check, but there again I am quite busy writing my historicals.

And Doug, I do agree -- visiting gardens can really unleash creativity. I am an invereerate garden visitor. It is so intersting to see how other people use plants and create scenes. And I don't even want to talk about plant stalls, though I am getting better...