9 May 2010

Local gardens in Spring

With the arrival of Spring comes the open garden season and I've been busy, despite the painful weather over the last couple of weekends.

Ham House is the local National Trust property and is always worth a visit. I can now get in for free so my occasional visits are becoming more frequent and more spontaneous.

The nice thing about Ham House for me is the way that the garden (my reason for going) is segmented with hard barriers between them that make turning corners like walking through a magical wardrobe.

Pictured here is the kitchen garden. This is one of the least well kept of the gardens but it is gradually being brought up to the level of its more illustrious neighbours hidden the other side of the wall.

It still shows its kitchen heritage and is planted in efficient rows of vegetables and flowers that I presume are used in the cafe and house. They also provide a patchwork view to the visitors sitting outside the long cafe that stretches along one end of the garden.

Ham House is a boutique attraction, it's small and pretty, and so is well suited to regular short visits just to see how the seasons change it.

St Michael's Convent on Ham Common is only open to visitors once or twice a year and so I grab the opportunity to go there when I can.

Like Ham House, it's attraction comes from it's division in to distinct areas each with their own character.

Paths run the length of the garden and round the outside creating long green corridors. The central corridor is my favourite and is a cosy irregular orchard where tulips have been encouraged to establish themselves in the long grass between the trees.

In season, the tulips produce eye-catching drops of vibrant colour against a background of simple greens where the trees conspire to hide any evidence that this is a just a garden in south-west London.

Without doubt, the local garden star is Petersham Lodge.

And the main reason for that is the large pond that offers serene views back to the lodge and cuts a majestic swathe through the wild part of the wide garden.

The rest of the garden houses several pretty borders, a formal avenue of trees, a box hedge cut in geometric patterns, a walk through mature trees with bluebells shouting their presence underneath and a tidy terrace from which to enjoy it all.

It also has that special ingredient that comes, unlike the others, from this being a private house and a private garden. The ghosts of other people follow you around, enjoying the garden as much as you.

These are three special gardens and they are quite different from each other. The common feature is that they slide you away from the bustle, noise and physical presence of the modern world that surrounds them all but which has, so far, failed to make any meaningful progress against them.

1 comment:

  1. Ham House is lovely, isn't it? We are making our next visit on May 23rd to see a friend sing in a choir...part of a free event being held to celebrate 400 years of Ham House.

    Had never heard of the other two so will keep my eyes peeled for those now too. Thanks!

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