I had a blissful afternoon at one of my favourite NT gardens this week -Lytes Cary http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk near Somerton in Somerset. It has everything I enjoy in a well-designed garden-formality in the exquisitely pruned yew trees and hedging plus textured plant combinations in the herbaceous borders. Below the fat heads of Tulip ‘Queen of the Night’ burst through swathes of Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ punctuating and supported by the soft clouds of catmint. It’s simple, relatively inexpensive to achieve and low-maintenance.
And below an immaculate clump of Hosta sieboldiana supporting tall, cream Darwin tulips which were growing through it. The combination of the fat cream tulip heads with the green-grey leaves of the hosta was stunning.
The house and garden sit in a sublime part of the south-west and the perimeter grounds are carefully managed to integrate into the surrounding countryside. In fields of mature trees cow parsley mingles with bluebells, Fritillaria and Cammassia leichtlinii gently link the managed estate to the fields and hills surrounding it. This naturalistic planting is sublime and relaxes the eye after the formality of the more structured parts of the garden.
I had a lovely chat with a gardener in the field of community allotments next to the car park. The Lytes Cary garden management team have a plot and I loved this willow structure for growing climbing beans.
It was a relief to be out of the house and garden to get away from fretting about germination which seems to have stalled currently. I flit hourly from the heated propagator to the pop-up greenhouse via the cold frame to check on any signs of germination and it’s boring me. I am obsessively sowing seeds in my determination to fill the allotment and germination is totally unpredictable. In freshly purchased seed compost I sowed a half tray of Zinnia ‘Envy’ and six seeds germinated. I sowed the same amount six weeks ago and they came through within days and twenty seedlings were transplanted last week in the cut flower bed. I think it’s a combination of lack of sunlight and natural warmth from the sun on the surface of the compost. That’s my theory and there’s small consolation in that everyone on the allotment seems to be experiencing the same. On the other hand our local garden centre http://www.riversidegardencentre.com/ today had the most amazing courgettes, tomatoes, runner beans and dwarf French bean plants on sale. Quite frankly in terms of faffing about watering and potting on and purchasing seeds and compost plus mega frustration it would have been cheaper and simpler to have swept in there today and bought 20 quids worth of healthy lovely plants.
However the allotment is slowly filling up and looking good for May and I spotted and adored these self-seeded aquilegias growing round a neighbour’s compost bins.