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 Constable

Today we headed for one of the local country houses, Burton Constable, for what was advertised as a food fair. However it was more of a craft fair than a food fair. Not having brought any food with us we ended up with an odd dinner of pie and cupcakes. The cupcakes ended up a bit of a mess after being bumped along in the pram. The pie however was from Hull Pie, so was top nosh.

We took our random lunch out on the woodland walk round the field of sheep away from the hall.

We found a bench to sit on. Alice’s eagle eyes spotted a moth under the bench. While I’m ok at identifying butterflies my lepidoptorist skills don’t stretch to identifying small brown and white moths. I will need to look through the field guide.

The weather changed rapidly to windy and raining, but none of this deterred Alice.

Back in the stables we saw the Burton Constable Whale. This 58 1/2 foot long sperm whale was washed up on the Holderness Shore in 1825. Sir Thomas Aston Clifford Constable had claim to it at the time, so it became property of the estate. A local Hull surgeon took an interest and dissected and wrote a study of it. A second study by Thomas Beale was read by Herman Melville who would go on to write the classic Moby Dick.

at a place in Yorkshire, England, Burton Constable by name, a certain Sir Clifford Constable has in his possession the skeleton of a Sperm Whale…Sir Clifford’s whale has been articulated throughout; so that like a great chest of drawers, you can open and shut him, in all his long cavities – spread out his ribs like a gigantic fan – and swing all day upon his lower jaw. Locks are to be put upon some of his trap doors and shutters; and a footman will show round future visitors with a bunch of keys at his side. Sir Clifford thinks of charging twopence for a peep at the whispering gallery in the spinal column; threepence to hear the echo in the hollow of his cerebellum; and sixpence for the unrivalled view from his forehead.

And that seems like a good tie in to mention that it is National Marine Week. A time to draw attention to the need to protect marine life such as the whale. I’m going to aim to get out to do another beach clean during the week.

Within my garden this morning I finally managed to get a photo of one of the marvellous dragonflies that have been in and out. They’ve been in and out lots recently, but rarely stay still for photographing. The size and colours of these fantastic insects are amazing. I’m glad to find them starting to come in the garden more.

A hidden gem

Today has been wet and miserable, so we decided to head out to the garden centre to do a quick run out for compost. However we never made it. We’d forgotten garden centres are where people go for bank holidays, so we turned round in the car park and came back the way we’d come. We didn’t head home though we made the decision to go to Wassand Hall.

Wassand Hall is a regency house just outside Hornsea. The mere where we visit regularly is part of its estates, but neither of us have ever been to the hall and gardens. But I’m glad we decided to today. The hall hosts an amazing arboretum with some enormous specimens of trees that have the feel of a Canadian wilderness.

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There was a vintage car display on, although neither of us has any interest in cars we were amused by what classes as vintage.

We didn’t pay the extra for entry as it didn’t look great for pram manoeuvring. But it has the look of a setting for a MR James or Caranaki ghost finder story.

The walled garden were restored in 1997 and contain a series of courtyards. They follow standard country house layouts, but done with style. The first courtyard is square shaped with the standard fountain and laburnum arches in the corners, nothing to rival Bodnant Gardens but pretty nonetheless.

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The outer wall was covered in honeysuckle. If it had been a sunnier day I imagine this would have been awash with insect life, but the drizzle was keeping it subdued.

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The other courtyards comprise a pond, a herb and vegetable patch and the cafe. The greenhouse apparently contains a succulent collection, but didn’t notice this.

 

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After finishing in the walled gardens we went back round to the vintage cars to enjoy a Mr Moos ice cream. I had a rhubarb and ginger, while Amy and Alice enjoyed a raspberry ice cream. Being Mr Moos it was top notch.

Across the field were some of the cows I assume make up chestnut dairies herd, who supply our local milk.

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Refreshed with ice cream we left the halls garden to walk along a bridal way away from the hall.

We saw lots of bee activity on the wild flowers.

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The pram was going to struggle going any further so we got Alice out to practise her newly discovered skill of walking.

 

 

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On the way back to the car I spotted a still orange form in the cow field we’d passed on the way to the buttercup field. It was so still we weren’t sure if it wasn’t a sculpture, but as we got closer we saw flickers of movement. I was very excited to see the fox. While I knew they were in the area since moving to Hornsea I haven’t seen any of these lovely creatures. It seems appropriate that on the day people marched in London to keep the ban I’d spot a fox.

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We saw it disappear back into the bushes as we went on, but then up ahead further excitement as I spotted a rabbit. A bit too far for a decent photo.

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But as went along the path I caught sight again amongst the trees.

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An excellent end to a tremendous walk on a day we weren’t sure we’d go out. Wassand Hall was a wonderful hidden gem and I’m sure we’ll revisit.