22 September 2013

A coffee break and a wander at Ham House

Being a member of the National Trust means that I can pop in to Ham House whenever the mood takes me and it took me on this Sunday morning.

I had been looking at the Glasshouse nearby in Petersham and fancied both a coffee and bit of a walk, so Ham House fitted the bill perfectly.

I was not that desperate to get to Ham House but it might have seemed that way as I found myself at the front of the queue to get in when the gates opened at 11am.

The coffee came first and that meant heading round to the right of the house to the kitchen garden. I had some cake too to fortify myself for the wander to come.

The kitchen garden is both practicable, it really is growing vegetables and flowers for use, and pretty. It is also neatly laid out in a grid with wide gravel paths that crunch reassuringly as you walk over them.

The kitchen garden is laid out in a uniform 4 x 4 grid. Some of these are grass, and grass is useful for the various events that are held there each year, but the kitchen garden has made some encouraging expansion in recent years and the number of grass squares has reduced.

This symmetry is the first aspect of the garden's beauty that you notice as it is approached from the elevated side garden.

The garden's other source of beauty comes from its mix of colours of shapes with the flowers and vegetables both playing their part.

The top picture is of one of the long flower beds, and on the right are some pumpkins. I have no idea what the things below are - I love the purple colour though.

There are three routes out of the kitchen garden and on this trip I took the one in the far corner away from the restaurant and that took me almost immediately into the Wilderness.

Here the defining feature is the maze of hedge-lined paths and wandering them is pleasure enough. When feeling a little more adventurous, and when time allows, I pop in to some of the gardens behind the hedges.

Like the kitchen garden, the Wilderness is a bit of work in progress and some of the hidden gardens have little in while others are well stocked with plants and cosy places to sit to enjoy them.

Emerging from the Wilderness, Ham House is revealed in all its glory.

This is, of course, the back of the house and I much prefer it to the font which I find a little fussy. The back is clean and, that word again, symmetric.

Off to the right is another garden hidden behind another, and taller, hedge.

Inside trimmed box and lavender provide further symmetry and further beauty. The lavender was replanted a year or two ago and it was good to see it back to full strength.

As almost always, this was an anti-clockwise tour of the gardens at Ham House and I paid no attention to the house itself, except to look at the outside of it. Even then the garden had me trapped for the best part of an hour before it had had enough of me and me of it.

It is fantastic to have something like Ham House on the doorstep (well, only 1.5km away) and, as with Kew Gardens, I prefer to make regular and frequent visits, which is easy thanks to membership on the National Trust.

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