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Inspiration

One day...

I got down to Dorset early on Friday morning, driving out of London at dawn. There are few things I like more than being up, really early, in a city that you know in an hour or two will be frantically crowded, but at 5am is empty. It doesn't actually matter for me if I'm walking the streets of Rome, or heading out on the Westway watching the sunrise in my rear mirror over the distant City of London.

I arrived just as Charlie was heading off to Tamarisk Farm (whos farm shop hours are Tuesdays at 4pm and Fridays at 8.30am) and then on to Bridport.  I was there to take delivery of the four obelisks that I've designed for Charlie's cottage garden to give it a bit of structure where he'd had to remove 6 giant box balls that succumbed to blight this winter.
They aren't positioned finally and buried in the earth but they are already amazing.  Pale custard yellow is Charlie's brilliant choice of colour. It sings against the colours of the mid-May garden.
In the meadow, cow parsley reigns.
In the allotment patch, a solitary bearded iris had sprung into flower.
It was an amazing weekend of heat and the promise of summer, but we were not in Dorset on Saturday. That afternoon we drove up to Northamptonshire, where we were staying for the night at ancient Ashby St. Ledgers, that fabled house, home of the gunpowder plot, and then greatly altered and extended by the architect Lutyens in the early 20th century.  Here is a view from the old Elizabethan/Jacobean house across to the dovecot and church.
Looking back to the wonderful gables and bay windows.
Inside the wonderful 18th century garden pavilion, with rich bolection panelling.
The parapet of Lutyens's amazing dining hall, reaching out over later wings.
The last of the tulips in the last of the evening light. A perfect moment.
We had a delicious dinner that night. The following morning I woke again at dawn, at sunrise, to the sound of an amazing dawn chorus.
But then, after a leisurely breakfast, our 'dine and sleep', as Queen Victoria called it, was over. We bade good bye to Nova and to Henry and made our gentle way home.  We arrived in Dorset that afternoon.

The bearded irises had all unfurled.

I suppose if you love a garden, you realise how quickly things change - even in a day. That is the wonder of nature. Blink and you miss it. So although there was a lot of time on the road, I couldn't have been more glad to be at home on that Sunday evening: "It is better to know one book intimately than a hundred superficially", in a way.  Not quite a motto I could live my entire life by, but it is good to have that book or place which you know better than anything else in the world, changing one day by day.

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