Heat, Romance and Drama
It started with an enthusiastic greeting of “Welcome, toilets are on the left” then it was out and onward into a pungent scent of rose. Heading directly for the Allotments: past picturesque shady and bordered lawn overlooked by a pavilion and the yew sentinels of the Model Gardens… Past the educational buildings to a gate in a dry-stone wall and where amateurs are taught the wonders of growing their own produce by the Rosemoor Edibles Team. Impressive are the loganberries grown in arches and spirals, reminiscent of wrought iron gates to grand houses. In the polytunnel tomatoes grow up pink strings and tables of seedlings are edged with bee loving large poppies. Across the wall children’s voices ring out as they run and picnic on neat green sward, with a dark evergreen forest brooding on its border. Returning to the Winter Garden I passed ‘Wild Eric’ exuding the scent of old rose (his history can be found on the David Austen website).
The Cool Garden with its glistening water tinkling over a paved channel of varying hues is surrounded by white, blue and yellow planting, a refreshing room on a baking hot day. Exiting to an enormous hedge and right to herbaceous borders with an unexpected contrast on entry to the Hot Garden. Raised stone beds of orange and bronze shaded planting. The paths surrounding the Plantsman’s Garden reminding me of foreign travels, with the exquisite foliage of shrubs and trees, enticing an adventure or to sit in their shade where Pan plays his pipe and even the bamboo behave respectfully.
Through a wicket gate to the Herb, Potager and Cottage Garden, passing under fruit trees and into a hurdled potager, the paths wending their way to a shaded bench and rustic resting places. A round upstanding goldfish pond with a boy, reminiscent of a Danish mermaid, leads towards the Shrub Rose Garden. Edwardian swags and rose arches have abundant interplanting of foxgloves, poppies, campion and drama abounds with ‘James Mason’ growing old gracefully from red Tudor rose to magenta; vivid clematis and rose clamber; and ‘For Your Eyes Only’ a star of the show.
Crossing the Stream Field, a wagon selling ice cream and sandwiches provide sustenance, and the Stream Garden provides shade, before venturing to the Fruit and Vegetable Garden. Centuries pass with medieval hazel arches and boundaries; lettuce in patterns of vivid green and bronze; a thatched potting shed to rest in; Victorian glass house and Crystal Palace shaped metal arch encompassing more foxgloves and sweet Williams. A corrugated tool shed, enough to make any man sigh, stands proudly in a corner. So on to the lake, gunnera and arum lilies lead down to stunning white iris and water lilies with tip toeing coot, pairing blue dragonflies and a perfect reflection of mature trees. Back up to The Rock Gully, a dark and shaded passage to the Lady Anne Garden in which resides the original spirit, with its Croquet Lawn and woodland walks, where a white rhododendron still bloomed, its stigma echoing the copper beach. The Stone Garden a chance to rest in the cool with its exotic pond and planting, but plastic fountain. Then a glimpse of the Mediterranean Garden in a dry planting of hot colours and terracotta pots. Iris abound in all shapes and colours, unexpectedly I am in the children’s play area next to a stumpery and there is still the Queen Mother’s Rose Garden to visit, where clematis are paired with climbing roses above the formality of rose beds. I can no longer differentiate between the scent of individual roses; all seem to have a slight spicey scent under their sweet rose perfume.
Text by Sarah Herring
Photos above by Sarah Herring
Photos below by John Stevens