Cliveden House

Last weekend I visited Cliveden House - a National Trust property with a very racy history. Built in 1666 by the Duke of Buckingham as a hunting lodge, it ended up housing his mistress, and many years later played a key role in the very British sixties scandal the Profumo Affair.

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But I wasn't interested in any of that - I was interested in the gardens. They are enormous, and even on a long walk I wasn't able to see them all. The ultra formal parterre (above) was very impressive, but not really my cup of tea. There was lots more to see though; I watched a heron gulp a large carp down in one go in the middle of the Japanese water gardens (no photo sadly - I was too busy watching); their herbaceous borders are massive, and doubtless will be great later in the year, but it was their secret garden that really appealed to me. An enclosed area with statues, and very modern planting - swathes of grasses, poppies, bronze fennel and other perennials that look good now, but will look even better later in the year.

I did come away feeling thankful that I don't have to look after that much lawn though.

Pictures below the break!


An accidental extra bed

View from above showing the weird irregularly shaped patch of lawn on the top right.
I got a bit carried away with this. I wanted to move some of our perennials around - mostly to give one of my favourite plants - Selinum Wallichianum - a better chance of survival than in a desert-dry border underneath our silver birches. But before I knew it I'd run out of space. So on the spur of the moment I decided to add another flower bed, and turn our patch of lawn on the right into more of a circle. 

The circle looks a bit more balanced I think, and of course it give us even more room for plants. For the moment I've filled it with some drought tolerant Sedums, loads of annual seeds (Californian Poppies, normal poppies, and Ammi Majus) and and the giant Echinops Sphaerocephalus, as well as a globe artichoke. The planting will change, but it's a start, and echoes some of the other plantings in the garden.

Give me a few more years and the lawn will totally disappear. And good riddance to it. I hate mowing anyway.

The new border is on the left, and another enlarged section is on the right making the lawn more circular.


Beautiful Brassicas

Cabbages: not just good for greens.

For two years in a row now we've left our overwintered cabbages (Cavolo Nero since you ask) to shoot and flower in the spring. What once were humble greens throw up these huge plumes of bright yellow flowers, and when the sun's out they absolutely hum with bees.