Kiftsgate Court Garden

We have returned from our holiday in the Cotswolds, which is pretty much a paradise for garden visits. I asked Twitter where they recommended and Kiftsgate Court Gardens was suggested. I looked it up and found we got two for one with our Gardeners World card so even better. The garden is the result of three successive female gardeners starting with Heather Muir in the 1920’s. She was aided by Lawrence Johnson of Hidcote Manor. We didn’t make it to Hidcote. Hidcote is arguably one of the most famous of the arts and crafts movement gardens. It is currently under National Trust stewardship and I don’t totally trust the National Trust for several of their environmental stances and the excessive price they charge for visiting their properties. As it was, it has been so hot the last week we have chosen gardens with shade. We may manage Hidcote in future. After Heather, Diany Binny took over and developed the white sunk garden and began to open the garden to the public. Anne Chambers took over and carried on the evolution of the garden with the tennis court becoming a water garden. The staff were very welcoming on entry explaining the layout and they were friendly to Alice. Not every garden we visit is happy to see children.

The banks and pool

We began our visit heading down the winding bank paths. These looked to have been replanted recently with a few areas of hardy geraniums and ferns that haven’t been established yet. It will look nice as it spreads if it can survive the current heatwave. As we got down the planting was more established. The paths wind down to the summer house which has a lovely view across the pool and Cotswolds. Then coming down from the summer house the steps lead to a little pond.

The pool at the bottom has a sunken ha-ha giving you another view out to the rolling hills.

In the heat, all seating was appreciated. If it was cooler we might have stayed down here longer to admire the view but we needed shade.

The lilies were the standout flower all over the garden. While many plants have suffered with the heat these were loving it.

Amy was very determined to get a photo of Alice by the pool with her reflection but Alice quickly lost interest and got fed up of squinting.

The walk back up was hot work with multiple stops on the way. The route took us under the towering Scots pines. Their shade was much appreciated. By the end of this holiday, I have become convinced that these should be planted everywhere as they have saved us from heat exhaustion, again and again, the last week.

I rather liked this statue that you find located part of the way back up. Statues are often placed badly in gardens or they are out of proportion with their surroundings but this fitted beautifully. There was also a stone bench to sit on which was needed for us to stop and drink more water.

Yellow border

The yellow border was more of an orange border currently with crocosmia and lilies dominating the colour.

Though no less beautiful for being orange rather than yellow.

At the end of this border, there were a number of topiary animals creating a mini farm.

And a stone which in my mind has a face.

The water garden

As already mentioned the water garden was previously a tennis court. It has kept the strong straight lines of the court. The dragonflies were skimming the surface enjoying hunting the other insects on the water.

The water pleasantly trickles over the leaves. On a cooler day this would be a nice serene place to stop and wander. But in the heat of our visit we mainly stayed in the shelter.

Luckily to the side there was a much appreciated shelter.

The rose garden

The rose garden was a bit lacking in roses in flower. I assume they are either over or the next flush hasn’t come through yet. Most of the photos I took here were badly over exposed so I don’t have any of the few roses that were looking good.

One end of the rose garden leads back towards the house while the other takes you through to the wild garden and orchard. I really liked how the smaller leaves of the formal yew hedge had been combined with the larger leaves to make the arch.

And a statue seat drawing the eye up the path.

Wild garden and orchard

The wild garden was not full of much activity. Much of the plants had finished flowering and gone to seed ready for next year. There will have been lots of life hidden away amongst the stems but not much moving in the heat.

The orchard had some fine-looking fruit forming. The grass has gone very parched but will still be providing habitats for lots of insects and other life. Many of their old apple trees had died and have been replaced but all looks to be settling in well. Underneath is planted with Camassias and the tulip Jan Reus which are well over now but would make a spring visit worthwhile with the fruit trees blossom.

The avenue

The avenue is made up of a formal seating arrangement with gravel arranged to make the diamond shape.

Then the avenue stretches out, lined by tulip trees, to a sculpture at the end by Pete Moorhouse. Looking at it as a photo the sculpture doesn’t look quite proportioned right to the length of the avenue and the size of the trees.

I can’t say I was that bothered for walking down to see it in the heat but Alice insisted. I’m not interested in formal layouts like this. They leave me feeling a bit cold, combined with the heat I can’t say I liked this area. The water garden was formal but that was all done with a bit more panache. This still feels like a work in progress. It extends the garden but I didn’t feel it fitted with the more intimate feel of the other garden rooms.

Alice on the other hand enjoyed running up and down the banks.

White sunk garden and four squares

By this point, legs were getting tired so we started heading back to the house. We stopped to have a look in the white sunk garden on the way.

There was a lot flowering around this area doing well in the heat. Roses and agapanthus were thriving.

Then the wide border and four squares were filled with lots of colourful beauties.

Then a well-earned ice cream for Alice. We’d given her legs a good workout and nice cake for us in the cafe.

We appreciated the shade and breeze that filtered through the plants around the window after our hot exploration of the garden.

Even in the heat, this was a lovely garden to visit. There were a lot of plants suffering in the heat but the dahlias and lilies were looking fabulous. I particularly like the yellow and wide borders. Lots of perennials looking good. The fern garden I didn’t photograph much but that had a lovely mix of ferns. The banks were a nice stroll down and back up through the pines. Hard work in the heat but well worth it. Sadly I couldn’t make plant purchases as we wouldn’t be able to fit them for the journey home but the selection on offer looked very good. I’d like to return again at another time of year to see it in a different season or at least a few degrees cooler. I would recommend it for a visit though you may struggle if you have mobility issues as the bank is steep and many of the garden rooms are on different levels. It made a good start to our stay in Moreton In Marsh.

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Six on Saturday: 6.8.22 Wassand Hall

Wassand Hall is one of our closest gardens to visit. We went a few months back and Alice enjoyed it so much she has been pestering to go back each time we drive past the turn off. I think this may be because she gets a bag of sweets for completing the woodland trail more than an interest in plants. But it is one of my favourite local gardens. The Wassand estate manages a lot for wildlife and the walled gardens are as nice as any gardens we visit. It’s a bit rough around the edges as it’s primarily run by volunteers but it is small enough it can be maintained with exciting plants.

Tropical corner

The tropical corner is one of my favourite areas of the walled garden. The mix of large-leaved plants with bright flowers is fabulous. The bananas and tetrapanax are a bit crisped this year but it’s still great seeing the big leaves.

Alice is still at an age where she’s excited by the idea of banana trees in the UK.

Colocasia envy

Each time we visit I end up with envy of the greenhouse. It’s a lovely structure and heated with a humifier. It is a perfect environment for a whole host of tropical plants including this bench of colocasia. I’ve tried one before but didn’t get it to anywhere near these levels and mine suffered with disease and pests by the end of the season. I have got my own aroid in the form of a little caladium on the go from my plant rescue box I wrote about earlier in the week. The variegated leaves on this are bringing me some pleasure but have to see if I can bring it back to health to keep through winter.

Carnivorous plants

Also in the greenhouse is the collection of carnivorous plants. The different adaptations to trap insects is endlessly fascinating. I have just ended up with a Drosera for free from the local gardeners Facebook group so I was interested to check theirs out.

The Sarracenia are my favourite with their veined leaves. These form pitchers filled with liquid. The insects are attracted to the liquid which they drown in and then they are absorbed by the plant gradually.

Hydrangea Annabelle

Each time we visit at this time of year the hydrangeas have been covered with butterflies. They normally get listed as low benefit for wildlife but I find they are quite popular with butterflies.

Dahlias

There were a good few dahlias but I think this shocking pink was one of the best. I’m not a fan of the muted washed out dahlias like cafe au lait. Dahlias should be bright and in your face not something that looks like weak tea.

Plant purchases

There are normally some interesting plants for sale on their sales bench. I normally find something not readily available at the garden centres. For some reason, I was attracted to the drought-tolerant plants. I went with a dark-leaved purple emperor and a little alpine succulent, Chiastophyllum oppositifolium. Then the day lilly was a cheap purchase they were clearing out.

Well, that’s your six for the week. Back to the watering. We have had a few short bursts of rain but it isn’t having much impact on the garden but it has helped refill the water butts. I’m trying to keep the garden well-watered ready for being away. Enjoy your weekends.

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Wassand Hall

It’s been a good while since I wrote a blog but this week I finished my last RHS exams. Hopefully, I passed and won’t need to resit. The first exam covered fruit and veg which isn’t my strongest knowledge area but it didn’t feel too bad. The second is on protected environments. They had changed the exam from any of the previous past papers. You usually have a good few questions where you write profiles of particular houseplants. There weren’t any of these questions but a lot more of growing veg in protected structures. A bit disappointed as I know houseplants better but so it goes. Now I’ve got the exams out the way I can get back to actually focussing on my own garden so expect a few updates.

Yesterday I made it out with Alice to Wassand Hall. It’s our closest country house and garden open to the public and we’ve visited it plenty of times before so I’m not going to go into lots of detail about the gardens in this blog. Check the previous blogs for more information. After a few weekends of revision, it was good to get out and to get Alice outside into nature.

Meadows

We began with a walk around the meadow land that surrounds the house. The grassland was filled with butterflies and damselflies. Countless speckled browns and meadow browns and a few more colourful butterflies on the wing. I’ve spotted the deer quite a few times while I’ve been out on my own but no sign today. We did see a good few orchids though.

Alice walked much further than I thought she would, enjoying everything we saw. This area is such a valuable habitat for so much wildlife I’m glad we have it on our doorstep. I’m glad it’s managed as it is creating a variety of niches for different wildlife.

Walled garden

After a snack refuel we headed into the walled gardens. The walled garden is roughly split into four beds with a tropical corner, a more cottage garden feel, a shaded corner and a more mixed one. Alice loves a water feature. Whenever we visit the garden centre she loves spending her time on the water fountain aisle. She spent a good while watching the fish in the central pond.

The tropical corner is probably my favourite area. The large foliage plants mixed with spectacular lilies and dahlias are just so lush to be irresistible.

With the heat, an ice cream break was needed.

Hot house

After cooling off with ice cream we headed into the hot house. Every time we visit I am very envious of the hothouse. They have a fabulous collection of plants growing in there at sizes I could never achieve without the heat and humidity they can create in here. As the last exam was on protected environments it was good to see it all in action.

Alice loved walking through the mist of the humidifier which with the heat outside was quite refreshing. I don’t think Amy will allow me to do this with the summer room though sadly.

Fabulous gloriosa.

Mandevilla growing from a large pot.

The carnivorous pitcher, sarracenia guards the door against insects.

And a few more carnivorous nepenthes protecting the greenhouse from pests.

Back to the outside world Alice was attracted to the rill. As I said she is fascinated by the water features.

Woodland Walk

I thought Alice would have had enough of walking by this point but she was determined to do the woodland walk. It takes you in a circle around the woodland surrounding the walled garden. Along the way you look for animals doors and record the colour on a sheet.

It takes you to the stumpery, which any long term readers will know I like a lot. The mix of ferns and gunnery and wonderful foliage plants makes for a wonderfully calm environment.

I’m glad Alice still enjoys doing activities as basic as these trails. It’s valuable time together and she still found such pleasure in finding each door. At the end, we returned the clipboard to the cafe for a reward of a bag of sweets.

Cactus house

To the side of the cafe is a long thin glass-ceilinged room with the cactus and succulents collection. A stark contrast to the hot house. From warm and humid to super dry. Cactus and succulents are fascinating if strange-looking things. My A-level biology teacher had a love of them and had them dotted around the lab. At least I assume she loved them from the quantity. I also have a suspicion that they were out so the more annoying students would end up touching when they decided to give the furry-looking ones a stroke. She did have a bit of a sadistic sense of humour, though a very good teacher. For adaptations, there are few plants as interesting botanically.

While I’m sure most readers understand the cactus and succulent distinction a few might not. Succulents are defined as plants with water-storing adaptations such as fleshy leaves or fleshy trunks. While cacti are succulents with leaves that have adapted to become spines or scales to suit desert conditions.

While it is only the one stretch of plants there is an amazing variety of plants that have adapted differently for dry conditions. The spines forming micro climates to conserve water and protect the plant from anything that might eat it.

While the succulents have fleshy leaves for water storage in all manners of configurations.

I think this little one was one of my favourites, Mammillaria gracillis. I like how the spines are adapted to flatten over the cactus stems to make a web.

Plant sales

OK, I’ll be honest this was one of the main reasons we came out. I was looking to take Alice out for a nice day but no reason that couldn’t cross over with me seeing some interesting plant stalls. There were a few local nurseries there with a mix of perennials and bedding plants. Long Riston plants are very reasonably priced. The Hardy Plant Society were there with a good selection of perennials. But as we visited the local open gardens a few weeks back I already have a good pile of plants needing planting so I resisted these. I couldn’t resist the Hull branch of the British Cactus and Succulents society stand.

I think they have involvement with the display at Wassand and they had brought out a great selection for the display table.

Alice likes the ones which look like they are covered in wool as mum likes to needle felt and she felt it looked like the wool she uses.

Best of all, all of the pots were £1 each regardless of size and rarity value meaning we could pick many just based on what we liked. We both picked a good few. Then a picked up a not-so-mini tetrapanax. This is capable of becoming a large-leaved tropical-looking tree. In milder areas, they can remain evergreen. I expect mine to be deciduous dying to the ground in winter. Accounts online differ in how it copes with the wind. But I have seen a good few accounts saying it can manage with sea salt winds so I’m going to risk it. If it works out it will make for an impressive specimen within the front garden jungle.

Glad I managed to find my favourite cactus from the cactus house. I can see how people become obsessed with collecting and growing these wonderful plants. Their small nature means anyone can fit a good few. The great variety makes them very interesting. I’m tempted to join the society as they look to have a good number of online lectures each month making it easy for me to fit it around Alice. Then they meet once a month close enough for me to get to. If they ever have a press office job going I’d leap at that for the amount of bad puns that can be made. “They’re a bit of a prickly bunch with dry sense of humours.”

It was a great day out and wonderful seeing Alice taking such enjoyment from the wildlife in the meadow, to the plants in the garden, to the woodland trail, to simple pleasures such as watching the water. Despite dragging her around for over 16,000 steps, during the whole day out the only whine was when I said it was time to go.

Burton Agnes-Spell Stones

Today we went to visit Burton Agnes for the Halloween trail. We have visited twice before for the snowdrop festival so it was a chance to see the site in a slightly different season.

We did a little bit of pre-visit crafting. I had a little idea inspired by the promise, the lost words and the more than weeds project. The ‘more than weeds’ project has involved people chalking the names of wildflowers next to where they are found. Chalking the name on walls or pavements to raise awareness of the beauty of many of these plants. The lost words was a book that came out of the decision to remove many ‘nature’ words from the Oxford children’s dictionary. I had little idea that we could make spell stones to mark the trees we see. I thought we would start with the oak after our earlier exploration of the story ‘the promise‘. I decorated my stone with the Ogham symbol for oak.

Then on the reverse I made a little acrostic poem in the style of the lost words. Not an award winning poem but for a quick job it will do.

Alice was more creative with hers drawing an acorn with the tree growing out of it. Then further acorns on her tree. I thought it was a pretty good piece of symbolism. You can see later where we found to place them.

Burton Agnes is a short drive from us. It’s only about 20 minutes away from us making it one of our closest gardens to visit. It was a day where my RHS membership actually applied so I got free entry along with Alice. Social distancing is being encouraged. They are limiting numbers. Tickets are still available at the gate but they are starting to do more online bookings. We arrived for opening and it was still peaceful but it was getting busy when we left. The hall is currently closed but I’m not that interested in the inside the hall. We wanted to do the Halloween trail.

Around the grounds and the woodland they have set up Halloween scenes. As you first come in they had a witch’s cottage set up.

We weren’t sure what Alice would make of the displays but she loved it.

A few of the scenes around the grounds.

Walking along the woodland trail with Amy and granny.

We found an oak to place our spell songs under. Hopefully they will keep it growing for another 100 years at least. And we read the oak poem from the spell songs book. A little bit of genuine magic amongst the Halloween displays.

Alice with grandparents.

The woodland walk wooden sculptures seem to move each time we visit. I have a suspicion someone is casting spells on these too.

They have a nice collection of fairy doors around the play park area.

As part of the trail there are sacks. You have to guess what’s in each.

We had a little burst of rain while Alice had a play in the park. It’s a decent play area with equipment for the younger kids and older.

The walled gardens are pretty bare currently. Someday we’ll visit in summer and see it in full bloom.

Still a few roses in bloom.

And a few dahlias.

And a last photo opportunity on the way out.

They have quite a lot plants for sale in the grounds but today it was a lot things which seed freely for us. There was lots of Lychnis and Heuchera purple palace which we have plenty of and more seedlings coming through. If they were cheap I might have considered a purchase but they were a bit steep for what they were. We did however discover a little nursery down the road which was selling many plants at bargain prices. I got 2 pots of Iris Joyce which is a nice dark blue iris and 2 pots of Galanthus elwesii which is a nice long stemmed snowdrop.

It’s been a lovely day out. It’s good to get out amongst woodland and dust off the cobwebs. Alice said it was spooktacular fantastic or should that be fangtastic. It felt like a nice follow up to our activities around the promise. I’d like to do a few more spell stones around the local park so Alice can continue learning the names of the trees and being able to recognise them. It feels important this knowledge that once would have been commonplace isn’t lost. We have an excellent Autumn planter six on Saturday coming up tomorrow so check back tomorrow.

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Scampston Hall-Autumn

We have returned from a family trip out to Scampston Hall. Scampston has two great attractions. The grounds were designed by Capability Brown, the great landscape designer of the 18th century. Then the walled gardens contain the Dutch designer Piet Oudolf’s largest private commission in the UK. We had chosen to go there so we could meet up with my parents. It feels more comfortable meeting somewhere outside currently.

Scampston is free for one visit to RHS members, but only on Fridays. So far I’m not managing to get any free visits out of my membership. I visited Burnby too late in the year. Glad I’m paying student membership. I am enjoying the RHS magazine though which has been excellent.

We began with the walk around the grounds. There is a short walk through part of the grounds and woodland or a longer walk taking in more of the area. With Alice’s shorter legs we only did the shorter walk but it was a nice stretch taking in parts of the Capability Brown design. Alice was very keen to check the map each step of the way.

It took us through the rock garden which currently looks like it’s a work in progress. Several gunneras have been cut to the ground and the river was dry.

It took us down to the waterside and bridge-building.

Several swans and geese about.

Then we went through a stretch of trees with a pleasing trio of Acers.

Continue reading Scampston Hall-Autumn

Wassand Hall

Today we headed out to Wassand Hall. I haven’t been to the gardens for two years and never in high summer. The whole set up is pretty much outside so Corona precautions are pretty straightforward and social distancing is easy enough. There were a few other people checking out the gardens but it was easy enough staying apart. Alice’s leg is still hurting so we didn’t want to take her for a day out which was going to strain her too much. The gardens here are not massive so we thought this would be about right.

The walled gardens are largely in three sections. One part is a run of formal box hedges with perennials growing inside. This was mainly heuchera, salvias and hostas currently.

A small fountain fills one wall.

With some stunning water lilies.

A climbing hydrangea Seemannii is spilling over one wall. This a different version to the one I grow as this one is supposedly evergreen. Either way, it has been allowed to romp away and is spectacular for it.

A formal pond fills the middle of this section.

There is a nice run of rose arches and clematis. Many of the roses had finished flowering but there were a few late-flowering clematises hanging on. This one is Doctor Ruppel.

We have continued Alice’s training. Hydrangeas are for having photos taken in front of.

Hydrangea Annabelle has been used a lot but then it is a beauty and easy to propagate.

To the side is the veg patch. Some of it looking a bit sorry for itself in the heat but some good obelisks.

And a good cutting patch of sweet peas.

Then a few flowers for cutting are arranged around the edge. The cactus dahlias proving popular with the bees.

The main walled courtyard is centred around a fountain complete with fish.

Then the borders seem to have been roughly split in four with a tropical border, a white area, a pollinator-friendly area and the shade border. I’m not sure if this is how they’d classify their planting but this is how it came across to me.

The tropical corner is thriving. Massive cannas, verbena and dahlias. Lots of Christopher Lloyd inspired schemes.

The cannas are truly enviable. A picture of health as opposed to my runt.

The shaded border is full of many of my favourites with foliage being key. Lots of hostas and ferns. It was also the nicest place to sit. When we set out it was grey and clouded but the sun came out as we wandered and the shade was appreciated.

The white border. As in Vita’s it is really a green border. It’s nicely done but it doesn’t excite me personally as much as other areas.

Though the agapanthus was spectacular.

It was good to see lots of bees and butterflies enjoying the garden. I saw both small and large white, peacocks, and gatekeepers while we were in.

We left the gardens for the cool of the woodland walk.

We told the story of the Gruffalo while we walked.

This took us round to the wilder ponds. A few moorhens looked to be hidden around the edge. A few dragonflies were flitting along the edge. I managed a few shots though none that great. Not as good as the shots I’ve been getting in my garden but nice to see a different dragonfly. I think this a common darter but if anyone knows better please feel free to comment.

They had a plant bench laid out. Mostly well priced for the size of the plants. They had a few of the hydrangea Annabelles for sale, a few interesting hardy geraniums, fuchsias and a few other bits. I picked up some cheap hakonechloa macra aureola for two-thirds of the price it is costing online. I’m not sure if I’ll use this bulking out my existing patch or possibly in a pot with one of the Acers that requires potting on. Then a small eucomis. Though I’m not sure whether it is labelled right. I like the spotty underside of the leaves. These grow a kind of pineapple-shaped flower. Quite exotic looking though supposedly quite easy to grow.

A nice afternoon out. The gardens aren’t massive. But, it was about the limit of what Alice could manage on a poorly leg and Amy’s back is aching too. Though she doesn’t know what she’s done. Always nice to see other gardens and see a few different plants in different combinations.

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Burton Agnes: snowdrop walk 2020

It’s almost a year to the day that we visited Burton Agnes for the snowdrop walk. It makes for a nice winter stroll. We’ve got one of Amy’s friends visiting so thought it’d be a nice day out on one of the few days that wasn’t meant to rain heavily. Burton Agnes is a lovely Elizabethan hall with a walled garden and woodland. The first we thing we spotted was Amy’s dad in the carpark, which was a nice surprise to see him there.

There was a good queue to get in as everyone gift aids their ticket. Once in we headed on the snowdrop walk first. Alice was excited to see the snowdrops pointing them out everywhere.

The snowdrops carpet all the woodland ground.

The walk gives you a gentle stroll suited to a three-year-old. The wind was bitter even well wrapped up but the snowdrops were stunning.

They have left lots of stumps and branches to rot down. Good to see positive woodland management.

Even busy with people walking there was plenty of bird song as we walked.

When we visited last year I commented that Alice was disappointed that there was noo Gruffalo. There was an owl and snake and fox. They have rectified this mistake.

They’ve done a good job on the park with a massive tower and spiral slide for the older children, then two smaller climbing frames for different ages. A zip wire runs along the back.

We had a stroll around the outside of the house of the gardens.

The garden is bare currently.

The walls still providing for some of my favourite ferns.

But the greenhouse was well worth going in for the mass display of Narcissus.

Amy is taking on more classes at school and she is teaching more photography. So, Alice got a few lessons today.

Then Amy borrowed my camera to get some practice in.

Then back to the courtyard to see what was available. I resisted the snowdrops. No more Galanthus for me. I’ve just added a few more in the front garden and I’ll let them spread gradually now.

The irises were more tempting. I’ve got a small pot of Katherine Hodgkin but they do look good in a mass display.

I’ve got Katherine’s gold still to come but it’s nice to see what they are going to look like.

I went for two pots of Iris reticulata ‘Pixie’. They are not in flower yet. Pixie is a pretty little purple variety to add to the mix. It’s been a lovely day out. Alice managed very well with the walking, had a great time in the play park. I now have 100s of her photos to filter through.

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Summer Holiday: Part 2-Highcliffe Castle

After our starting point of Guildford, we moved onto house sit in Christchurch for our Summer holiday. Our first day out was to Highcliffe Castle. Highcliffe Castle was built in the 1830s by Charles Stuart, 1st Baron Stuart de Rothesay. The gardens were designed by Capability Brown though only part of this survives. The house changed hands ending up the property of the Catholic Church in the 1950s. It was bought by local businessmen in the 1960s before much was damaged by fire. The castle deteriorated into ruin before it was bought on by compulsory purchase from the local council.  The grounds and beach were opened to the public but it was too expensive to restore the house. Heritage Lottery funding allowed restoration to take place in the 90s.

When we arrived wedding photos were taking place but Alice was too eager to run through the passages in the hedges.

Inside the castle was good for kids with lots for Alice to do. Many of the displays were interactive with sound for her to listen to. She enjoyed playing in the kitchen serving everyone food.

She looked quite good as a maid but didn’t keep it on long enough for a decent photo.

She meticulously stacked up the rectangles to fill a stained glass light box. She didn’t want anyone else having the rectangles!

She did some very careful tracing.

Then very careful colouring upstairs.

There was a gallery of street art on. Most wasn’t to my taste but some caught my eye.

More dressing up upstairs.

The inevitable icecream.

She had a good climb outside between rain.

Then a bit of a stroll of the grounds before she had a meltdown as her clothes were wet.

The grounds are mainly made up of woodland.

Highcliffe was a good spot to visit for a family. Quite a number of activities for the kids to do as they go round. Alice enjoyed herself. There is a stroll down to Avon Beach but she isn’t quite ready to walk that far. In my next blog, we visited Christchurch, then still more of Exbury, Peppa Pig World and the Gruffalo to come.

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Burton Agnes-Snowdrop walk

We have returned from a few days visiting the in-laws. On the way home, we decided to pay a visit to Burton Agnes. Burton Agnes is an Elizabethan home built between 1598 and 1610. It has stayed within the same family for all of this time. It is located in the East Riding between Bridlington and Driffield. It’s about a 20-minute drive from our house in Hornsea so a fairly easy day out for us. RHS members get in cheaper on Mondays and Fridays. At £7 for entry to the gardens and £11 for the hall and gardens it falls within the average garden price for our area. A years membership would be paid back in 3 visits so I may consider paying next time.

For this visit, we just paid for the gardens as we were after seeing the snowdrop walk. We thought hall and gardens might be too much for Alice without the pram. The woodland walk takes you through a thin strip of trees heading away from the house. Currently, the ground is carpeted in snowdrops. While I’m not much of a galanthophile seeing a mass amount of this little flower is magical.

The woodland walk is estimated to be about 20 minutes. It’s all gentle walking and as it was dry we saw a lot of prams and wheelchairs navigating the path. Along the path, you can find animal sculptures.

Alice enjoyed looking for the animals though I think she was disappointed not to find a Gruffalo having done the New Forest Gruffalo trail.

Hanging from one of the trees is a giant clanking windchime. Luckily they don’t have any neighbours too close as this wasn’t a delicate chiming collection of pipes.

Dotted through the woodland are fairy houses. Alice enjoyed knocking on each door. The hall is in the process of building a new children’s play park. This looks like it will be fitting with the fairy theme. A large tower with a twisting slide looks to be the centrepiece. It looks like it will be great fun when finished.

I think we probably visited the snowdrop walk at peak flowering. The walk is advertised as on until the start of March so must still be some going for a few more weeks.

The gardens are currently a bit bare so we may have to look at a return visit later in the year. I had expected the gardens to match the house with many Elizabethan choices but looking at the labels in the ground I can see it is more varied than knot gardens though there are a fair few roses. I imagine it is stunning in Summer but not really worth much time currently.

To the side of the garden is a maze and at the back is a sensory garden and kiddy corner but Alice didn’t want to wander that way. But we did make it into the giant games area. I think Alice expected an actual giant but she did enjoy playing with some of the games and found other children to follow.

There were a few Spring bulbs poking out around the gardens. My favourite amongst these was the irises. I’ve planted a few within pots in my garden but I think this will increase next year. The vibrant colours make such a welcome sight this time of year.

A fountain for Alice to run round in circles.

Clipped topiary make good places for hide and seek.

The nature garden gave us a spot to eat our picnic lunch and has a walkway to keep the kids entertained. There is a cafe that is reasonably priced as these places go. We had a drink on the way out. Two cups of tea, a child’s drink and a cookie for just over a fiver. The hall also sells a number of plants in the entrance courtyard and they weren’t badly priced. If we didn’t have a car full of suitcases I’d have considered buying some.

We enjoyed our stop off at Burton Agnes and plan to return later in the year. I’d like to see the gardens in bloom in Summer. I’m sure Alice will enjoy the play park when that is complete. In a few weeks, there is an orchid festival. While I don’t currently grow any orchids I’m sure they’ll be stunning to see. I’d recommend a visit to Burton Agnes if you’re in the area. Lots to see for different age groups.

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Sewerby Hall

So having finished our time at the bay it was time to say goodbye to the oystercatchers and head home. As we left over the moors we couldn’t help bu notice how stunning the heather is looking this year.

To break up the journey we stopped at Sewerby Hall. Sewerby Hall is on the edge of Bridlington. A Georgian house that was added to through the 19th century. The orangery looks particularly fine, but there was a wedding on so didn’t get a proper look.

The zoo

The house has a zoo located in the old stable space. The animals have moderate enclosures. The Capuchin monkey like looked a bit lonely.

I much proffered the wildlife we saw roaming free on the grounds.

In the walled gardens Alice got let out of the howdah for a wander. She was very taken by the pond. Eventually I would like a small water feature in our garden to attract in the frogs.

I was quite taken by the artichokes. They need a decent space though for effect so I don’t think they’ll make it into my garden.

I can make more space for alliums and globe thistles though.