Other people’s gardens (no.3 in an occasional series)

Yesterday, making the most of a spell of late summer/early autumn sunshine, we visited Castle Ashby gardens, along with a friend. Castle Ashby is almost equidistant between our home and hers, tucked away in the countryside. You approach along winding lanes with high hedges, to be rewarded near the entrance with a glimpse of the house itself, seen along a stately tree-lined avenue.

The house isn’t open to the public, so we had to be content with getting this close:

Thank goodness for zoom lenses

The gardens are partly laid out as traditional Italianate formal gardens, partly as more modern ‘rooms’ and partly informal arboretum. There’s also a walled garden but that is only open to you if you hire it for an event, which no doubt costs an arm and a leg.

The first view you get, as you turn right past the house and descend a short flight of steps, is of tree-lined walks and neat lawns. In the distance are brick archways which lead eventually to an impressive triumphal arch.

Turning left, you come to the parish church

and following the path to the right, you find this impressive structure forming part of the churchyard wall:

The central arch on the outside contains a lovely water feature

with some dour-looking lions acting as spouts.

When we made our way round into the churchyard, we found that the other side consisted of a disappointingly maudlin late 19th/early 20th century memorial featuring an oversized angel figure.

More exciting was a glimpse of a Weeping Angel (one for the Dr Who fans, this):

Once in the churchyard we could see that the Doctor had clearly dealt with this group the same way he saved Sally in Blink – by materialising the TARDIS in the middle of them and then dematerialising it once they were all facing each other. Nifty.

Don't... blink...

Our friend isn’t a Who fan, and had no idea what we were talking about. Sigh.

From the church, the path takes you to the Italianate garden proper, with its topiary, and urns filled with scarlet petunias.

Despite the formality, some of the trees have grown into wonderfully sculptural shapes.

Here too is the Orangery, which looks as though Nature is slowly reclaiming the structure.

Of course, it’s not neglected at all but carefully managed to put you in mind of something out of Gormenghast.

At its centre, the roof rises to a glass dome beneath which is a pool of water lilies and goldfish.

Yes, I know. Trying to be arty.

And in one corner, an artfully abandoned wooden wheelbarrow:

Almost too good to be true.

Opposite the Orangery is the Triumphal Arch:

and once through the arch, you are in the less formal roomed gardens, with a Rainbow Border and a Butterfly Garden, and this Scented Garden filled with sage, lavender and thyme:

From here, the paths lead you to the Arboretum.

Through the trees, you make your way to the lake with its little balustraded bridge.

The sign is telling you not to sit or lean on the balustrade.

Looking out over the lake.

Of course, I can’t have a lovely structure like that, and some late afternoon sun, and not try to get a bit arty.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a gardening blog by me without a load of attempts to get good close-ups of pretty flowers. We found a greenhouse full of gorgeous fuschias, no idea what varieties they are:

Though apparently there was one called Grumpy:

Elsewhere in the gardens, we admired the following, amongst others:

A rather fine dahlia

Autumn crocus

Japanese anemone

Teeny tiny cyclamen

Then there were the colonies of snails making themselves cosy in amongst the decoration on some of the urns:

But I’ll leave you with the ‘humour’ photo.

Maybe at some times of year, but not right now.


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3 Responses to Other people’s gardens (no.3 in an occasional series)

  1. What wonderful gardens–I envy you. I live about 2 hours from Longwood Gardens which I don’ get to visit nearly enough. Nice photos.

    • ownedbyrats says:

      Thanks. I actually managed a return visit yesterday, but didn’t take any photos. Will try to return there at intervals as it’s open throughout the year, so it’ll be lovely to see how it changes.

  2. Pingback: Other People’s Gardens: Castle Ashby again | The Random Gardener

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