Chippenham Park Gardens

It’s that time of year where everyone bundles up and goes to see millions of snowdrops. I’m not a snowdrop fiend but after months of muddy not-proper-winter, I was itching to see some signs of it ending.

So off to Chippenham Park Gardens we went. It’s not open all year round, but it’s definitely worth a visit on the days when it is open. It’s a lovely mix of formal and interesting, and my children were sufficiently entertained even though Digger Jr is getting old enough to point out that she prefers fashion to gardening. There is a cafe but we didn’t try it because I spent the last fiver before payday paying my entrance fee. Priorities, I has them.

On to the photos!

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Snowdrops AND daffs. It’s all happening.

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Hares! Not real ones.

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Me first thing in the morning before I’ve had coffee.

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Me after coffee and a shower.

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Lots of vinca around including this lovely white one.

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Crows? Velociraptors? Not sure. I like them though.

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The big house in the background.

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It’s a tree, innit.

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The grand canal.

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I rejected every otter pun I thought of for this photo. They were just too awful.

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Me after too much coffee.

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The winter walk.

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Snowdrops!

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More snowdrops.

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I will never complain about trimming my front hedge again.

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I think this is a Cornus mas. Am I right or wrong? Let me know!

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Gate goals. I love this.

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The junior Diggers loved exploring the tree tunnels.

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Flashbacks to being a small child and being shit-scared of all the voodoo stuff in Live and Let Die.

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Another canal and some pelicans.

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Inside the walled garden.

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Massive hare!

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Bridge over the lake.

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Loads of Iris reticulata.

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And millions of hellebores! This one is my favourite.

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More vinca- pink one this time.

Once the weather starts warming up, I will be visiting MORE GARDENS to steal ideas and force my children to exercise. Watch this space!

 

Barnsdale

A couple of weeks ago, Mr The Digger took some days off to spend with each of our daughters. So I had a day with each of them too, which very rarely happens.

Digger Jr had asked Mr The Digger to take her to one of those indoor playgrounds. The Littlest Digger is too small to argue so I made her go with me to Barnsdale Gardens (don’t worry, I bought her an ice cream).

Barnsdale is a collection of small-medium gardens which were begun by Geoff Hamilton for Gardeners’ World. The great thing about having loads of small gardens is that it’s easy to get inspiration for your own garden. But no, The Littlest Digger, that Gunnera is never going to fit in your little patch of garden. Sorry.

Here are some crappy photos in the wrong order for your enjoyment:

 

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Modern Estate Garden. I want this honeysuckle. There’s a danger that I’m going to turn into a honeysuckle hoarder.

 

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This awesome geranium was everywhere at Barnsdale.

 

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Alstroemeria. I still haven’t got any because I’m rubbish at choosing.

 

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I love this colour combination.

 

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Children’s Garden. Predictably, The Littlest Digger loved this one.

 

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Children’s Garden. Proof that you can have a beautiful garden that’s great fun for children.

 

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I’m not a huge Wisteria fan, but I bet this looked awesome in flower.

 

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Hostas. Hostas everywhere.

 

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Formal Pool and Knot Garden. I love these statues, something a bit different than the usual armless Grecian goddess.

 

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I am so going to do this with apple trees one day.

 

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The Littlest Digger takes a break in the Artisan’s Cottage Garden. What is an Artisan anyway? I think it’s a bit like an anteater.

 

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I can’t remember exactly what sort of tree this is. My mum would probably wave her hands vaguely and say ‘some sort of Prunus’. So I’ll go with that. As you can see, the bark is the star here.

 

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Stream and Bog Garden. The Littlest Digger and I spent a while playing ‘we’ve got one of those in our garden’.

 

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I might turn into a Clematis hoarder too.

 

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The willow dome in The Children’s Garden.

 

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GUNNERA.

 

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Japanese Garden. It doesn’t do it for me, really, but here it is if that’s your sort of thing.

 

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Sometimes I remember to note the name of a plant. This geranium is Russell Prichard and it’s beautiful.

 

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Versailles, Barnsdale style. Guillotine just out of shot.

 

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Mediterranean Garden. I neeeeed that Kniphofia.

 

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Ponds everywhere. You can’t have a garden without a pond.

 

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Hornbeam arbor in the Country Paradise Garden.

 

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And also in the Country Paradise Garden is the nut walk made from hazel.

 

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Town Paradise Garden. I think this was my favourite of all, which surprised me- it’s funny what sort of garden you fall in love with.

 

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If someone told me I’d love a town courtyard garden with a lion head fountain, I’d be like NAH. But I did.

 

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The pond in the Town Paradise Garden. GOTTA HAVE A POND.

 

 

Bennetts Water Garden

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I think this is my favourite.

Everyone got a chance to pick something they wanted to do on holiday. My husband wanted to relax on the beach, the children wanted to play on the beach and I wanted to drag them around a garden and bore them with plants. Anyway, you can’t visit the West Country without going to a nice garden, right?

Our campsite had a load of pamphlets about places to visit and I spotted one for Bennetts Water Garden and its National Collection of waterlilies. Now usually, the words ‘national collection’ are enough to make me run in the opposite direction. I suppose I don’t understand why someone would want 900 of the same plant when there are so many plants to choose from. But this is a water garden, and I love water gardens and everything that goes with them. And you have to love waterlilies because they have beautiful flowers, and leaves shaped like Pacman.

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One of the lily ponds- there are 8 or 9 altogether.

So. We tootled off towards Weymouth and Bennetts Water Garden. It looks a little small and possibly even cheesey from the front but inside it is amazing. The first bit you walk through is the hot house, which has a fish/waterlily pond, cacti and a resident cat (called Lily, obviously). You know when there’s a resident cat sunbathing amongst the plants that you’re in a relaxed kind of garden, and that’s exactly what this place is. There are no manicured lawns, rows of perfectly spaced bedding plants, or neatly clipped hedges. There are even weeds (AKA native wildflowers), which adds to its wildlife-friendly credentials.  I get a lot more inspiration from gardens like this rather than the aforementioned manicured lawn, bedding-plants-in-a-row gardens.

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Ducks!

There’s a nature trail for children that the girls loved, and they each won a packet of sweets at the end so they loved it. There are also loads of fish, ducks and other wildlife to spot so it’s a great place for children to go. And there’s a cafe (cream teas!) and a plant shop. Go and visit right now while the lilies are flowering!

I took millions of photos and managed to narrow it down a bit. I thought 20 photos might be pushing it. Maybe I’ll post some more another time.

 

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This one was in the tropical house, so forget about putting it in your pond unless you live in Florida or something (can I come and visit?)

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Another tropical lily

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A brand new dragonfly drying out his wings, with his old suit hanging up next to him.

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No, this is my favourite.

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No, THIS one is definitely my favourite.

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Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi), a UK native. I think I might need some of this.

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Here’s another waterlily.

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I prefer the white/yellow ones tbh.

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‘Chateau le Rouge’ is nice though.

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‘Texas Dawn’- my new new favourite.

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‘Arc-en-ciel’- love the leaves on this one, it’s beautiful even without the flowers.

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Meine Familie on the Monet Bridge.