Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Big borders and beetroot cake

I visited two gardens this weekend. They couldn't have been more different in style, size and location. The first was Nymans, in Sussex. I have been driving up and down the A23 for years now, seeing the sign and thinking: next time I'll go and visit. Finally, this weekend was that next time. It's a National Trust classic: an Important Garden. The wealthy Messel family collected plants through the late19th century, created a garden over the next 100 years and had several plants named after them, before bequeathing everything to the NT in the 1950s after a dramatic fire burned down the house (cue Daphne du Maurier plot). It ticks lots of boxes in terms of horticulture, garden design and history: sumptuous seasonal borders, gracious lawns, views, yards of clipped hedging and numerous mature trees and walkways through different styles of planting - woodland, bamboo, heather. The late summer borders were a blast of colour, dazzling, even on a grey, drizzly day and impressive not least because they are only watered every 10-20 days...

On Sunday, I cycled to Richmond on my fabulous new bicycle, to the Old Palace Lane Allotments NGS Open Day. Snaking alongside the railway, the plots broke every health and safety regulation I'm sure, and crammed a huge amount of fruit and veg and people in. There was a lot of bindweed too. But apple and damson trees dripped with fruit, pumpkins nestled in corners and there was a lot of love and pride, even if it wasn't perfectly tended. There were some fine cakes on offer too - the beetroot and chocolate brownies were delicious; and I took home an alchemilla mollis and a pot of tarragon for 50p apiece. It was very far removed from the grandeur of Nymans. I know which one I felt more at home in. 


  1. I have never been to Nymans, Enjoyed this

  2. Lovely comparison! I'd have enjoyed both for different reasons but I love visiting allotments most of all for seeing what people are growing (and taking away good ideas!) P.S. Love your pumpkin pic!

  3. Hi Catharine - let me know when you've been. I'd love to hear some other views.
    Caro - I wish I'd grown that pumpkin! Allotments are always so inspiring, aren't they?