High 66 F
Low 64 F
The third week in June was soggy. In fact, the whole month of June, 2009 was soggy. I thought I was being prepared for English weather. English weather, at least in Cornwall which is noted for being dryer and sunnier than most of England, was not just sunny but hot and sunny. What a welcome change. The garden I left looks very much like the garden I came home to although the roses on the fence, New Dawn, are blooming and bedraggled. As far as the gardens I visited on the way to Cornwall and in Cornwall let's just say they were humbling. While there is no place like home, the gardens of England served a major portion of humble pie to this gardener. I have always believed that each garden is a true expression of the gardener who tends it and the English gardens I visited did have full time gardeners and the private gardens were all tended by retired people.
The first garden I saw was that at Mottisfont Abbey which lies between London and Cornwall in Hampshire. The original building at Mottisfont was built in 1201 by Wiliam Briwere who had connections to Richard the Lionheart, King John, and Henry III. It is difficult to comprehend 1201 isn't it? And Richard the Lionheart? Maybe he walked the very grounds I walked. Time is fluid in such a place as Mottisfont. The building has changed since the original structure was built but the Cellarium stands original and was used as storage space for all manner of things. I am sure it contained foodstuffs but what exactly? It has an ancient beauty don't you think?
This is a beautiful property but nothing prepares one for the assault on the senses, both visual and olfactory, upon entering the walled garden. Here, in a space of a few thousand square feet, roses and perennials bloom profusely and fragrantly. There are both grass and gravel paths and the gravel paths have a satisfactory crunch under foot . The perfume of roses fills the air. There are roses and clematis trained on the walls and they share a companionable and complementary vertical space.
There are wonderful perennials in this garden many of which I can grow but haven't done so yet. The Papaver somniferum is the most beautiful poppy I think I have ever seen. It comes in an array of colors with very gray foliage. The Campanula lactiflora is another plant seen quite often in English gardens but I rarely can find it in the garden centers. Here it is over six feet tall and makes quite a statement in the garden. The exhuberant profusion of these gardens is enough to convince a gardener to work a bit harder and pay closer attention to color combinations if she can extricate herself from the fetal position that is.
Is there an estate of this size without a parterre? The formality of this parterre fits in well with the stately design of the building. I will not be adding a parterre to my garden but I can appreciate its' form and linear stability. I thoroughly enjoyed the visit to Mottisfont and recommend it to any who visit our friends across the pond. It is always enlightening to visit other gardens and from this one, I gained an appreciation for vertical elements and well used space. The scent of the rose garden will not soon be forgotten.