Small moments of peace…

In my memory, maybe it’s right, maybe not, this time last year we were having a bit of a heatwave. Not this June. I left London this morning in a cold wind and a pouring rainstorm to head to Kings Cross for the early train to Darlington.

Dorset has been cloudy and wet too, but having said that the garden has never looked greener or more lush, and the funny thing about rain is that if you’re a gardener you love it. May had been so dry.

Charlie’s cottage garden – replanted this spring – has gone mad.

Heavenly foxgloves and lupins.

You see what I mean? We’ve had our friends Luke and Duncan staying over the weekend. We did all the usual treats of a Parsonage weekend…. Bridport market early on Saturday morning, which was cold and blustery and a little empty of stalls; Soulshine cafe for breakfast, then more mooching in some of the brilliant antique shops in the backlands of Bridport. Lunch at Brassica in beautiful Beaminster and home for walking the dogs and afternoon naps and tea and then supper with our neighbour Anne popping up for a happy evening of debate and conversation and generally getting nicely but not too drunk. That sort of a day and night.

On Sunday, after a slow start, we went to Mapperton. Regular readers of the blog will know just how much I love this sensational garden. It’s some time, a long time, in fact, since I’ve been – Charlie comes for all the plant fairs but I have missed those. There is a new head gardener and everything was looking very good.

Here are the dreamy stone pillars that frame the forecourt of the house, with the stables and sawmill to the left.

The approach to the front door framed by two stone pillars topped by beautiful lead eagles…

And a perfectly decaying gate.

I love the delicate orangery that sits at the head of the valley – built in the 60s by the then Earl of Sandwich. I am not sure who designed this building but it’s very good.  Does anyone know?

And then the view down the extraordinary garden, tucked into a steep wooded valley, with beautiful topiary, steps and fountains making and marking the journey down the hillside. The perfect Edwardian place.  I have always liked this bronze plaque recording the men who built this beautiful place.

Luke and Duncan and Charlie, taking in the view. There is breathtaking moment when a whole new vista opens up, with a huge change of level and ponds and pools leading to the arboretum.  Until you get there, you have no idea it is coming. The genius of gardening…

The view back to the ancient higgledy-piggledy roofscape of the Manor House…Lush planting falling down the hillside.

Here is the little garden pavilion – one storey on the other side three storey here. 

Lunch outside in the sunshine was a treat. The boys headed back to London and we went home to the dogs and an afternoon nap.  But this is a short blog, because it was, in a sense, an all too short weekend – I got home on Friday night, after a long day in the Cotswolds… and had to head up to London on Sunday ready for an early train this morning. Life feels rather busy at the moment! We have some lovely projects happening which makes the early starts okay, but it does slightly feel as if the summer is rolling away before my eyes…. all the more important to find the moments of still calm and peace when we can.

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