VISIT TO HOWICK HALL GARDEN, NORTHUMBERLAND
My 'Six on Saturday' today aren't from my own garden but a visit I made on Friday to the beautiful Howick Hall Gardens on the North Northumberland coast. Although the main border displays are past their best, there are lots of beautiful little nuggets to discover there. Here are six of my discoveries for you to enjoy on this Saturday.
There is a surprising array of different Colchicums to be seen around the gardens and woodland. I particularly liked this one with the pattern on its petals rather similar to those on a snake's head fritillary.
There were hydrangeas of various types in different locations, and it's so difficult to chose a favourite, but I've selected this blue one from the Silverwood part of the garden, simply because it is blue. My own garden is on neutral soil that contains hard fragments of limestone, so my hydrangeas are always pink, so I love to see blue ones elsewhere.
Finding new plant combinations is one of the joys of visiting gardens. I never would have thought of putting pink Cosmos and these blue daisy flowers together, but I think they make a great combination. I found them in Lady Howick's private garden, which is often open to visitors in aid of the local church funds. Make sure you put your pound in the box at the entrance and don't be mean and sneak in without paying.
Cyclamen seem to be plants that I just can't grow. In my Dad's garden on heavy clay they used to self-seed all over the place. In my wonderful, deep, fertile, moist but free-draining soil they just disappear. Perhaps its because everything else grows so well and overpowers them. So I'm very jealous of all the lovely little cyclamen currently in flower at Howick, and I love how they combine with little blue and white lobelias in the rock garden.
5. Light and shade
I think light and shade help bring a garden to life and the hedges and trees in this scene at Howick help to make those differences. Howick really is a place for people who like trees because as well as the garden, it has a huge arboretum with trees from all over the world. Imagine what this picture would look like without the trees.
Sadly I need to say farewell soon to two trees in my garden that I really love. Strong winds last year and this year have put a lean on a silver birch given to me as a seedling more than 20 years ago. And a Eucalyptus planted as a small sapling about 25 years ago is really outgrowing the garden. So l need to make that call to an expert in tree removal so they can be taken down safely. But they will be replaced with something else, so I will still have light and shade in my garden.
6. Autumn colour
Autumn colour is just starting to appear at Howick, and I hope to return again this autumn for a stroll through the woods and arboretum. But one shrub already zinging with colour is Euonymus alatus, the winged spindle tree, with the leaves having turned from their summer green to this fabulous red.
I hope you've enjoyed this little selection of six from Howick Hall Gardens. It is a garden. There is no children's playground or pedal tractors, but kids can run about in the woods and see and hear the woodpeckers, marvel at the huge Gunnera leaves by the stream or take up the Family Explorer Challenge and become nature detectives.
Another of my favourite things about the place is the Earl Grey Tea House. It is the most elegant tearoom I know at any garden open to the public, and you can't visit a garden without tea and cake!
P.S. I recommend Northumbrian Rarebit at lunch, and later a scone with butter, jam and clotted cream (but remember the 'jam first' rule, none of this nonsense of trying to spread jam on top of cream), and any or all of the cakes.