Saturday 2nd August, 2014

A good journey saw us arrive at Wimpole Hall as they opened so we were able to enjoy a full three hours at this National Trust Estate where there is much to see. The walk to the main gardens allows views over parkland and on through a wonderful collection of trees, some unusual and nearly all of which were labelled. In particular, we enjoyed seeing examples of the National Collection of Juglans. I love trees so for me this was a highlight. On then into the walled garden where the Cherry Walk border echoes the design as it was in the nineteen thirties – planting here included penstemons, phlomis, eryngium, rudbeckia, different grasses and much more. The Apricot Border runs the length of the ‘inner’ walled garden – an amazing 389 feet long by 14 feet deep. Here the planting was varied, colourful and with highlights, especially of deep reds provided by shrubs such as Cotinus coggygria and herbaceous perennials including some very desirable sedums. Grasses also played their part in a truly wonderful display. On then into the walled garden proper where much of produce is raised for the restaurants at Wimpole Hall. Box provided edging throughout and there were impressive displays of fruit and vegetables, along with shrubs and perennials. The whole thing was lifted by good use of annuals. Most of the party enjoyed some of produce in the restaurant or the Stable Kitchen at lunch time and for some there was time to see the Hall itself and also the Church. A relaxed atmosphere prevailed everywhere and it is certainly a place worth a return visit.

Kathy Brown was pleased to welcome us to her four and a half acre garden, developed over the last twenty-three years, and even happier that it was raining for the first time for three weeks!  Undeterred we explored this garden which takes its inspiration from artists such as Hokusai, Rothko, Monet and Kandinsky.  Kathy has an eye for detail and many wonderful plant combinations were to be found all over the garden.  It was unfortunate that areas such as that containing Ammi majus and coreopsis had fallen foul to the rain, but the eighty or so clematis were happy.  Kathy began her horticultural career designing exotic containers and this was particularly evident in the Kandinsky inspired old fish pond garden, we were amazed to see Hydrangea quercifolia growing better in a container than it does in most gardens - an idea which will be copied no doubt. Once we had demolished the cakes at tea time there was just enough time to enjoy some parts of the garden again in the sun before our return journey.  Thank you to Kathy Gray for a well organized and relaxed day out.

Wimpole Hall: Kathy Gray Stevington Manor: Brian Ellis

Pictures: Tony Gray and David King