Wentworth Castle Gardens Closed – The Last Day

The closure of Wentworth Castle Gardens was well aired on this blog last month and today, after we returned from our vacation, we took two of our grandchildren and our daughter to the Easter event for families. It was a joyous event tinged of course with sadness. Still, it was a family occasion so the images reflect that. So not the normal post.

Wentworth Castle Gardens is to Close after the Easter Weekend

Wentworth Castle Gardens

Wednesday February 1 2017: John Edwards, Chair of the Wentworth Castle and Stainborough Park Heritage Trust said : “It is with sadness we have decided that the gardens will have to close to the public from Spring 2017.”

The Heritage Trust behind the gardens says it has not been able to make enough money to cover the running costs and management of the site – despite  a £3.74 million restoration of the garden’s Victorian conservatory back in 2013.

We visited today for the last time and here are the memories of a garden nationally famous for “Lady Lucy’s Walk” and its vast collection of azaleas and rhododendrons.

We managed to see some early rhododendrons in flower, feast our eyes on the conservatory and eat at the excellent cafe. All for the last time. This is a loss for all who love gardens and a particular one for our family for we have enjoyed many days there over the years. Do visit my Instagram pages to comment. We hope the staff find alternative employment. But most of all we hope some benefactor arrives to save the day.

Keukenhof Gardens, Part 2 (Orchids)

We are undecided yet whether to visit Keukenhof Gardens again this Spring. Our last visit was three years ago and the Dutch gardens are in direct competition with the Mediterranean for a break. The sun may win out. For now a reminder of the orchid house held in the Beatrix Pavilion where forty Dutch orchid specialists surpassed themselves with displays that rivaled the spectacle outside.

Our Front Garden, 14th August 2005

Looking back at old photographs of our garden is an unsettling experience for I realise how hard I worked before I retired from my paid job and travel took over. Today I go for ease of maintenance: eleven years ago I must have had more energy. Whatever, here is our front garden on August 14th 2005. I do find it odd when men tell me they have no time for gardening and make their garden into a car park.

I was very keen on cacti and agaves at that time, before the grandchildren came along in earnest and I gave the lot to a contractor who did some work on the roof. I must have been devoid of sense for they were valuable. But prickly …  and grandchildren are precious.
I was also keener on annuals. I am a little more reticent about growing them these days. I could change again, seeing these. In the left is a hydrangea that for some reason I moved into a shaded spot where it fails to do itself justice. It will be returned. The hebe suffered from a hard frost, poor thing.
I still have the rowan, full of berries in the summer before the birds descend on it. The tall helenium is scarcely remembered. A reminder of just how useful old photographs can be. I must remember next year to see how the roses and different perennials I have there now can rival this display.

Blackpool’s Stanley Park, October 15th 2016: "The UK’s Best Park"

The 390 acres that presently comprises Blackpool’s Stanley Park was officially opened in 1926. It serves an important role in my family’s memories given that my wife is a Blackpool girl and this was where she spent many happy days of her childhood, including her time at the now demolished Collegiate High School for Girls, the park being a convenient hideaway for lunchtimes. We brought our children here on numerous times before our move to Yorkshire. Now on a very wet October morning we revisited. It has scarcely changed. The link above is to the Friends of Stanley Park from which I learn that this venerable park has been just been voted “The UK’s Best Park” for 2016 by “YOU!”

The Rose Garden was originally designed by Thomas Mawson in 1926 and completely renovated in 2006 
David Austen Roses make up the main planting though Autumn perennials were conspicuous
The Historic Art Deco café is worth the visit on its own

The bandstand is in the distance and the benches are just as we remember them
Clock Tower
Stanley Park Lion

The following images show the care taken of the bowling greens where the grass had been properly spiked but the gardeners not quite having finished sweeping up the plugs of earth.

Jaume Plensa, Jonty Wilde & Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 20th June 2011

I was a little disparaging about the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in the mud a week ago. Nowhere looks good in the mud. YSP is without doubt one of my favourite places to visit. So here is a better memory from a few years back when we took our grandson to visit and we all agreed that the Spanish sculptor was the finest Spaniard in Yorkshire. Max loved the alphabet sculpture and pointed out his full name. I loved the ethereal heads rising from the grassed roof of the Underground Gallery, pictured against the South Yorkshire countryside. They turned out to be “Nuria and Irma”, the heads of the two girls made in steel mesh. I know they were featured in The Telegraph by the photographer Jonty Wilde as “one of the best sculptures in pictures”. He is one of the finest photographers of people around, as the link above will testify to. The Holmfirth photographer’s official website features some images of work from YSP.

Cleethorpes Beach, Meridian Line, Windsurfers and First World War Forts

A house full of family (see New Year’s Eve) is at times a rumbustious affair so after saying our farewells, to clear the head, for the second time in three days we walked for miles along Cleethorpes beach and salt marshes. We passed the Greenwich Meridian line that crosses the Humber Estuary, first entering Britain at Withernsea and then passing through Cleethorpes. The stainless steel plate crossing the walkway has withstood the rigours of time and footfall since being presented to the town in 1930 by the Sheffield Steelworks, Hadfields Ltd. Tough stuff. The signpost and granite globe were erected in October.

The Humber Estuary drains something like 20% of England’s land mass so the water that is presently flooding Northern Yorkshire flows here.

Birds flock in their many thousands to over-winter on the rich marshland. The egret tested my zoom lens.

Wind surfers and one of the two estuary forts constructed in 1914 to defend the coast. The forts are lonely features of the seascape now. In the far distance behind the close-up of the windsurfer is the second fort.

And here in the thin winter sun, the sea defences and vast sands have a beauty.

Seasonal and Unseasonal, Alexandra Palace, 19th December 2015

My car registered the temperature as 17ºC early this afternoon here in London. The highest recorded London temperature in December is 17.2 C. In the car park at Alexandra Palace I snapped daffodils in full flower. (The limitations of my ‘phone camera are clear to see.) And below is a more seasonal offering. Freddie is on the left! I know I’m getting older when Santa Claus seems so young.

Penstemons and my little cat, 7th November, 2015

Penstemons provide value for money and are special plants for me seeing as they were the last gift from my dear mother – though not those below as a particularly hard winter did its worst some years ago. Still, the frosts have not yet affected us and the temperature yesterday when I took the photographs was an unseasonal 19°C.

And another gift that I have had for over twenty years is my little cat, she’s potty but mothered the fuchsia through last winter with the help of a warm south facing wall and a little luck.