|A walk in the garden
||[Jul. 11th, 2015|07:34 pm]
Despite his heavy schedule of meetings, durham_rambler made time on Wednesday afternoon to take me to Thornton Hall Gardens. Thornton Hall is a sixteenth century manor house, near Darlington, (very handy for New Moor Farm, where Archer's ice cream comes from) but I had not heard of it until earlier this week, when F. told me where she had been during the thunderstorm. It's a private house, but they open the gardens several times a year - and Wednesday was our last chance this year. The gardens are not huge: three fields which had once been walled gardens. The website describes them as "A hobby which got out of hand", and although it's obvious that a huge amount of work and skill goes into them, the effect is clearly the expression of an individual's taste. We were there for barely an hour - I could have done with longer, but meetings beckoned - in which time I took 59 pictures.
I loved the crowded planting and the glorious colour contrasts:
There were plenty of places to sit, viewpoints and carved wooden seats and sheltered arbours, and this bench almost reclaimed by the grasses:
I know the 'white garden' is a design classic, but it came as a surprise after all the colour. It frames a view of the Hall which displays the results of the window tax (introduced in 1696):
Even in the white garden, though, flowers grow and mingle exuberantly.
There is sculpture all over the place, though in a smaller garden we'd probably talk about 'garden ornaments'. Is the distinction just artistic snobbery? Some of it I liked, some of it not so much. I rather liked the rough minimalism of this bird:
and the two hedgehogs which you can't see rootling around the fallen log in the background were cute, at least. I didn't care for the giant woodpecker, painted in his natural colours and pecking at the trunk of a tree no more than three or four times his height, but I did like the sense that these things were here because someone had made a purely personal choice. Likewise the ducks by the wildlife pond, ignored by the swooping swallows. None of them appealed to me as much as the metal wheels leaning against the potting shed:
Well, in a less public garden I wouldn't have thought twice about calling it a potting shed. Here, it housed a couple of display boards about the progressive reclamation of the garden. But this was its presiding deity:
Goodbye, Bill. Goodbye, Ben.