Clumber Park Historic Bridge

 We walk around the lake at Clumber Park twice a week. During the Covid restrictions the four mile trip has been a mainstay. But this is a post about the beautiful 250 year old, historic bridge that was vandalised in March 2018. Usually we walk in a clockwise direction which means that by the time we cross the bridge we are about half a mile from the estate courtyard, cafes and toilets. This means coffee, cake or lunch awaits or, more mundanely, car and journey home. Goodness me, we even have two favourite ducks we feed there, cross breeds with domestic escapees I suspect judging by their size. But back to the vandalism where criminals drove a stolen car in a determined and successful attempt to ruin this landmark and route over the lake. Luckily after fund raising and great expense their destruction has been erased, reconstructed and a rare beauty emerges, all the more gorgeous because we now realise the treasures we have, not to mention being spared the extra effort of navigating our way around the upper lake. It’s good to know craftspeople still survive and that suitable stone is still able to be quarried  – from very near us as it happens. I’d rather dwell on the positives though I include a photograph to show the task the constructors faced immediately after the incident. Unfortunately no bodies were discovered in the burnt out vehicle or lake.

Garden Ornaments

 Two planted heads today. First is the newest ornament in the garden, bought from Ebay on impulse, photographed on 12th June, and planted with a trailing succulent that seems to withstand the roasting sun on the south facing wall. The flower was a bonus. Next up is a forty year old terracotta cat planted with the fuschia ‘Eruption’, 30th April vintage, that failed to erupt in cat, and also hanging baskets. The sun shrivelled the young plant in the cat and other plants in the hanging baskets submerged the remainder. I replanted the cat with a trailing nemesia that could take the heat.

Central Park, New York: The Conservatory Garden, September 2017

New York was a huge surprise. We were charmed and excited by a city full of colour and vitality. I couldn’t live there, I doubt, given the pace of the place but there again there were areas of relative tranquility and inviting accommodation. The Conservatory Garden in Central Park was one of the biggest surprises, a slice of  English/French/Italian gardens in the heart of one of the world’s great cities. Originally opened in 1937 and based on a design by Gilmore Clarke, the garden was restored in the mid 1980s. The park itself was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1963.

View from Rockefeller Center

Three Dancing Maidens by Walter Schott

I had to get a skyscraper in

Burnett Fountain by Bessie Potter Vonnoh

Not one of the dancing maidens

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 19th November 2017

Apart from the parking fee, there are few nicer places to visit on a bright, cold morning than the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Well, I say cold but sitting on the balcony having a milky coffee there was warmth in the sun and as we embarked on a long walk we generated heat well enough.

Anthony Caro’s “Promenade” (1996) looked stunning in the autumn light and set amongst the trees.
The view from the balcony was also lovely. On the stairs to the cafe was an exhibition by Ed Kluz: “Sheer Folly – Fanciful Buildings of Britain”. All the works were for sale and it passed my mind for a split second to … I settled for a photograph of “The Dunmore Pineaple”.

Tony Cragg’s work crazily complemented the Yorkshire landscape.

However Joan Miró’s 1974 piece, “Tête”, would be my choice to grace the front lawn.

Or Barbara Hepworth’s “Square with Two Circles”(1963).

Lynn Chadwick’s “Little Girl” (1987) looks pretty grown up to me. She seemed a little lonely. An angular beauty.

The parkland itself is one of the sights of Britain.

Believe it or not, this is an exhibit. David Nash, “Seventy One Steps”. We saw it seven years ago when it was being constructed. Very fitting for a sculpture park in inspiring surroundings.

 We’ve got to have a Henry Moore. Or three. “Upright Motives No 1” and “Glenkiln Cross No 2” & “7” (1955-6).
.

 And finally a Garden Centre, Alfredo Jaar’s “The Garden of Good and Evil”. I resisted the temptation to get out the secateurs.

York Museum Gardens by Night or Day

We are due to visit York in December to walk around the museum gardens at night with our grandchildren so we had a little recce. We had had the coldest night of the year and I needed to scrape the ice off the car. Most of our plants have somehow escaped the ravages thankfully but this post is about the lovely autumnal colour in the museum gardens. Hydrangeas are sensational at this time of the year so I snapped one I liked against a brick wall.

 Of course, we were able to see the preparations for the night spectacular. As I mentioned to Jan, it’s much better to see the gardens in daylight when it’s free. Maybe the kids will be happy with the photos.

And I’ll throw in the calf we saw in the University grounds.

Doddington Hall, Lincolnshire. Breakfast, Cows and Peace

The glory days of Doddington Hall have been documented here on two occasions: firstly, when the cherry blossom was out and, second, earlier in the year, as snowdrops, crocus and winter shrubs vie for attention in the well stocked gardens. Today was a quieter time, as the early bulbs die back and colour is provided by fresh green foliage and the striking rhododendron and azalea. But first was breakfast in the incredibly popular cafe and restaurant. So for the first time on the blog I’ll feature food. We had a vegetarian and a conventional breakfast. I’ll leave the reader to decide who ate which.

Fortified, we toured the garden. The kitchen, walled garden is splendid in season but it is the ancient chestnut trees under-planted with erythronium that normally captivate me. Sadly the flowers were spent albeit bluebells offered some consolation together with the odd pheasant eye narcissus. (I shall have to provide advice on late flowering varieties.) There is a lushness to the growth and an overall peace about the gardens that pleases eye and ear.

I’m a mug for garden statues and that above would find a place in our garden any day of the week. The more formal gardens behind the great house have beds framed immaculately by box and in late May the iris plantings are quite stunning.

I must not omit the rare and richly coloured Lincoln Red herd of cattle that graze the estate. They make a real spectacle and I would keep them for their visual appeal alone though they make for tasty delights in the restaurant and flourishing farm shop.

And so to the rest of the estate where we walked by the small lake and visited the Art Barn where the local arts society were exhibiting their wares. One of the pieces of glassware almost made me part with my money. As I type this I still believe I should have treated myself. (I photographed it in situation, on the windowsill.)

RHS Garden Harlow Carr in Harrogate, North Yorkshire

RHS Garden Harlow Carr in Harrogate, North Yorkshire is a great visit and today the sun shone all day, the bees emerged, and one could see the plants opening out to welcome spring. So here are the highlights.



I’m no great lover of heathers though ….



Catkins can be as good as blossom



“Anna’s Red” and certainly on my newly created shopping list



Another of those catkins



Skimmia japonica “Red Diamonds”



The head only of the towering reed sculpture



Kale “Redbor” is tasty too



Primula palinuro



Primula allionii ‘Mrs Dyas’



Primula ‘Joan Hughes’



Primula allionii ‘ Apple Blossom’



Saxifraga species and my favourite today



Olsynium douglasii 



Primula ‘Netta Dennis’



 Dionysia aretioides ‘Bevere’ and spectacular



Fritillaria raddeana



Draba yunnanensis



Cornus mas – a mass of blossom



We had a visitor at lunch



Location for lunch



Visitor 2

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Fox and Shakespeare Decorations – Haddon Hall, Derbyshire

Bold as brass and striding out confidently yesterday in the sun. No wonder I don’t keep chickens.

Haddon Hall was today’s venue where we travelled for their Christmas concert given by The Royal Northern College of Music. It is such a delight seeing and hearing talented young musicians in convivial surroundings. More culture was on offer with the Shakespeare themed decorations of which I particularly liked the use made of various editions. 

The hall and surrounding countryside are of course splendid even on a dull December day.

Alton Towers Hotel, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Fountain, Peter Price

Here is a sculpture a little out of the ordinary, the photographs taken this weekend at Alton Towers Hotel after our dance weekend there. Sited in a pool eight metres in diameter, the amalgamation of objects takes some scrutiny but essentially follows along the lines of my own estate car that is too often full of junk. Local sculptor Peter Price made the piece in the mid 1990s for the then newly opened hotel, as well as the stone chess pieces that are in the courtyard entrance. The art in the hotel is of a similar whimsical quality. The fountain is like a Damien Hirst only better. Far better, come to think.