Summer is, against all the odds, officially here. No longer subject to being labelled a “heat wave”, this is now the real McCoy.
And with the glorious sunshine, our little oasis of green has bloomed into life.
We’ve been living in this flat for almost exactly a year, so now is when we can see the results of all the work we did last summer and autumn.
The purple bugle we brought with us from the last garden is spreading nicely; the ferns are doing very well, as are the herb beds and our collection of clematis.
Then there’s the fantasy section; the gnome house and garden with it’s “cartoon pond”, complete with rocks painted as fish, frogs and a turtle by Rhonda and Audrey, witha clump of chives in place of reeds.
Plus our old friends, the gargoyles, are settling in quite happily, along with the watchful owl in the candlelight.
As part of tomorrow’s K’lee and Dale’s Cosmic Photo Challenge, over at Return of the Internet Nobody, I created some abstract images using the bare, snow covered trees at the bottom of our garden, with the odd daffodil thrown in for a splash of colour.
Then I decided to carry on mucking about and made quite a few extra.
Here’s a preview of the full collection.
Having a week off work in October and a sunny day at the same time, well that was too good an opportunity to pass up; so today Rhonda and I took advantage of a free entry offer at RHS Rosemoor and, of course, I took plenty of photos.
The large, sprawling gardens are cleverly laid out in a series of themed spaces, obscured from each other by the use of hedges, trees and hard landscaping, using the curves and perspective of connecting paths to draw your eye onward to the next horticultural treat.
There’s something for every gardening taste; formal rose gardens and the geometric precision of tightly clipped fir hedges; vibrant colours of the hot garden and a glorious mixture of textures in the foliage garden; the walled kitchen garden and fragrant delights of the herb garden and, my personal favourite, the lush and beautiful lake area, with its giant gunnera plants adding a primeval feel to the series of waterfalls that drop down to the sparkling, lily-covered waters below.
Transitions between the different areas are so subtle, though, that they feel like unforced progressions from one “garden room” to the next, especially as there are vegetables and herbs mixed together with decorative planting (including a superb pergola in the kitchen garden, with melons growing over it) making for a very pleasant couple of hours in the sunshine.
First posted February 2015
There are many beauty spots in North Devon that I’ve visited again and again to take photos, but it occurred to me today that I’ve taken more pictures in one place than almost any other.
Although it isn’t, strictly speaking, one place.
About eighteen months ago I posted a photo-blog based around my journey to work, along the A361 North Devon Link Road from Barnstaple to South Molton, on the edge of Exmoor National Park.
Since then I’ve taken dozens of photos of the sunsets, sunrises, landscapes and trees on and around the twisty, undulating ribbon of tarmac that winds through the wooded and field-checkered countryside.
Happily, they have proved very popular, both here on the blog and on Facebook, (where I have recently set up my very own public photography group to showcase any and all types of photographic art) but most of these shots are captured whilst making a hurried stop at the side of the road or a quick detour on the way home in the evening.
So today, having awoken at the unreasonable hour of 7.30, I took a traffic-free trip into the misty, frost-sparkly morning and went exploring.
Here’s one of two tunes I’ve picked to soundtrack my journey:
My first stop found me on the hills above the A361, looking down from the road to West Buckland…
…from whence I made my way towards Exmoor and my main objective for the morning’s adventure, the viaduct that spans the spectacular Castle Hill Estate at Filleigh.
I travel over the viaduct nearly every day and yet, apart from the time I had a job driving a large van, I’ve never been able to take advantage of the views afforded by its lofty elevation.
Until today, that is.
I parked in a lay-by just uphill from where the viaduct spans the steep-sided valley and walked back along the hedgerow, finally reaching the point where I could look over the parapet, onto the misty landscape below and across the treetops of the wooded hills that stretch off into the hazy distance.
But I wasn’t satisfied with that.
What I wanted to do was to get some shots from under the viaduct itself.
Which brings me to the second tune with which to accompany this photographic odyssey:
Clambering over the crash barrier and down through the tangled undergrowth, I eventually came to a farm track that led me under the towering stone supports, into the dappled pine forest and fields that border the road.
I climbed back up the steep slope of the valley to the road, sounds of traffic just beginning to disturb the peace of morning, heading home with the usual feeling of privilege I get when I’ve had a chance to witness the world as only the early bird sees it.
First posted January 2013
Tapeley Park house and gardens is a unique and fascinating place, on the road between Barnstaple and Bideford.
Tapeley Park house, seen from the Italian terrace garden.
The estate has been in the same family since the 1700’s, and is now owned by local anti-corporate campaigner and political activist, Hector Christie, who runs it on a sustainable basis, and he is proud of his Green credentials, supplying the local community – as well as the estate cafe – with organic vegetables, and using recycled materials wherever possible.
The house has it’s own claim to fame – the fact that it has an important collection of William Morris furniture – ironically preserved over the years, due to the house being unheated and mainly closed up for years, as revealed on a C4 documentary.
But it has always been the grounds – which include a Victorian kitchen garden and experimental permaculture garden – that make us go back time and again.
The lake is a beautiful place for a picnic.
Many exotic plants grow in the mild, sheltered climate.
Neatly trimmed arbours lead you on…
…to surprises around each corner.
There are animals too. Apart from the wildlife scurrying in the undergrowth, the estate keeps rare breed pigs, sheep, and highland cattle.
Three little pigs.
The hard landscaping has been lovingly restored, most notably on the steps leading down to the Italian terrace garden…
…and yet, there are still echoes of the past, lending a eerie calm to quiet, reflective corners.
There is even a labyrinth, made from the stone shards of an exploded obelisk, victim of a 1931 lightning strike.
A fascinating and, in some indefinable way, enchanted place, it’s somewhere to return to again and again, always discovering something new.
If you’re ever down this way, why not go and see for yourself, you never know what you might find…