Sunday, 20 February 2011

Blenheim Day 1

We had seen a lovely river with people swimming it, at Pelorus, as we drove along this way, en route to Nelson, and Rich remembered and so we stopped for a look. It was beautiful, a stony clear deep river, but with excellent swimming holes with no current and even a place to jump in for those brave or daft enough. I had a long lovely swim while Rich took photos up and down the riverbank.
We arrived at our motel, very spacious and comfy, got settled and had lunch. Then we phoned to see if we could visit Barewood , the garden of Carolyn and Joe Ferraby, near Seddon. We were invited up this afternoon, so set off to see another of the lovely gardens recommended by the RHS.
As you arrive between an avenue of trees, you see a lovely, dramatic but simple fountain set in a circle of stone. The garden is surrounded by some 100 year old oaks and other native trees, some planted by Joe’s mother, others in Carolyn’s time. They garden on clay in a very dry area, which sometimes gives problems. The wide beds around the house are mainly mixed perennials with lots of roses, jasmine and wisteria cloaking the front veranda. Like us in Menorca, they live a lot in their outside space in summer and there is an emphasis on avenues of hawthorns, or malus, giving lots of lovely shady cool areas this time of year, but full of blossom in spring and autumn colour later, and leading you on to a new area. We walked to the pavilion where roses were having their second flowering and mixed perennials give all year interest. Carolyn uses a lot of David Austin roses for their repeat flowering, their perfume and their old fashioned cabbage shape. There is a lovely pond with a big weeping willow and a boardwalk surrounding it. The planting here is of Hostas and other broad leaved natives, in the dappled shade, but with maples adding another colour palette. 
Carolyn has a potager, formally laid out with some box hedging around beds and lots of interest added by fruit tree arches and obelisks with unusual varieties of beans growing on them. Like me, she prefers to grow fruit and veg not normally available and to experiment!
Across the wide green lawn Joe has made a ha-ha this year so the sheep can’t get in but the view across the fields is not stopped by fences. He has also diverted the drive so it doesn’t cut the garden in two. A good team. The perfect end to the visit was a fragrant glass of prize-winning Villa Maria chardonnay with them on the veranda. Thank you both so much for making us feel so welcome.
On our way back to Blenheim we caught sight of this wonderful mountain range in the rear-view mirror and just had to stop to capture the moment.
Photos here.

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