Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A great way to break into my 60s! Part 2

A Gardening Trip Around the World

I have wanted to visit Lullingstone Castle ever since I heard about Tom Hart Dyke's plan to create a 'World Garden' at his family's home in Eynsford.  I'd watched the TV programme "Save Lullingstone Castle", one of England's oldest family-owned estates which had fallen into near-bankruptcy.  It was a fascinating series.

Tom Hart Dyke is a horticulturalist and plant-hunter extraordinaire who first shot into the public eye when he was kidnapped in the Columbian jungle whilst trekking with his friend.  The area was very dangerous as it was full of warring guerrilla factions.  They were held for 9 months and released in December 2000.

In his time as a captive he made plans to create a 'World Garden' back at his home in Kent and this was the year I finally got to visit.  I was beyond excited!

We were first to arrive just before the 10am opening time and a nice man opened the gates for us and directed us to the car park.  It was the aforementioned mans first day there and he wasn't quite sure which way we should go to visit the World Garden so suggested we walk towards the castle then turn right.  So we did.

We passed a huge lake where someone was fishing

It was a gloriously sunny day, but not too hot, so perfect for wandering around a garden.

Lullingstone Castle itself.  There were guided tours but it was the garden we wanted to see.

This building seemed to be divided into flats, presumably for the staff.

The World Garden is situated within the old walled garden belonging to Tom Hart Dyke's grandmother.

I loved the mirrored panels placed at intervals along this beautiful old brick wall.

Mike shook hands with this strange shaggy conifer.  He thought it looked like a dog but I thought it looked like a Sea Lion.

I love this round entrance gate and the use of slanting bricks to edge the paths

The garden is divided into zones with plants from around the world planted in their continent of origin.  We started by going all around the perimeter and then just dived in.  Mike enjoyed spotting plants that we grow at home and I was impressed that he remembered some of their names too.

My Veronicastrum has disappeared completely this year.  Too wet and windy perhaps?  Mine was pale pink.

The beautiful mahogany-coloured bark of Prunus Serrula (aka the Birch Bark Cherry)

The extraordinary weather we've had this year (strong winds/torrential rain) had wreaked havoc in some parts of the garden with several of the Eucalyptus trees felled (they hold the National Collection of Eucalyptus)

A representation of Ayres Rock!

This fab sculpture of a Baobab tree was created by a local artist, Will Jordan.  It's made of 51km of stainless steel wire and is situated in the centre of the African garden.

Halfway round the outside we spotted 2 large polytunnels so went to investigate.  The first was an orchid house with other exotics:

Strelitzias always make me smile!

You can see exactly why they are known as The Bird of Paradise flower

Our own Stags Horn Fern is getting pretty big now

It was about now that Mike said, "look over there" and so I did and my heart did a hoppity-skip of delight as I spotted the Cactus House complete with Tom Hart Dyke with his watering can.  I squealed at the sight of cactus heaven but couldn't work out how to get to it.  Thankfully THD heard my squeals and directed us.  He laughed at my enthusiasm commenting that most people ignore the Cacti.  Not me, I love 'em!

I make no apologies for the number of photos of Cacti which follow (there were quite a few more but I'll spare your bandwidth!):

My banana dress seemed appropriate in the warmth of the polytunnel!

My much smaller version of this isn't flowering yet

Mike kindly posed for size reference.  He's 6' tall.

Whereas I'm a mere 5'4"

Just look at the size of these Echinocactus grusonii (aka Golden Barrel Cactus).  They were fabulous!

A very sensible use of corks to protect passers-by from the spikey points

After all the excitement I took a trip to the toilet during which time Mike had spotted THD and asked if he could take a photo of him with his very excited wife who was celebrating her birthday.  My excitement went up a notch when I returned:

Crikey, what enormous feet!

Even better, I asked about one of his greenhouses and he stayed and chatted with us for ages. Then we got chatting about cacti and sensing my enthusiasm he took us into a special new tunnel, not yet open to the public.

Oh my goodness, I really couldn't contain my excitement.  There some exquisite beauties in there, mostly grown from seed 10 years ago.  He kindly asked about my collection, all grown on window ledges, and Mike commented that he hasn't seen a window ledge for many years (get me a large wind-resistant polytunnel or glasshouse then husband dear!!!).

There were some stunning cacti in this display.  He'd used an old boat as a bench and it worked really well.

It was so kind of him to spend so much time chatting with us and I was delighted to see his amazing collection.

Then we were off on our world tour again:

Our garden is too windy for Delphiniums - I love this bright blue one.

Beautiful Cercis (Forest Pansy?)

Mike commented that this looked like a section of our front garden as I allow Fox and Cubs (the orange flower) to spread around too as it's very popular with Hoverflies.

I love how they've pruned and decorated these trees - they look like goalposts for a slightly different game of Quidditch!

Gorgeous Aeonium (Schwarzkopf at a guess)

Here seen with its glorious acid-yellow flowers.   Mine have never flowered.

Love the contrast of this pale saxifrage against the coal (or is it slate?)

Another interesting sculpture entitled 'Seduction & Abduction - The Story of Europa'.  This time it was a collaboration between Marie Prett (who has a shop in Cranbrook and is well known for creating joyful pieces featuring her dog and circus animals) and Will Jordan.

More lovely bark

Erm, large mosaic fish swimming amongst the shrubs?

Having completed the World Garden we headed off for a spot of lunch in the gazebo (very nice it was too!).

Then we wandered off to look at more of the trees in their collection.

A beautiful example of Acer griseum (aka the Paperbark Maple)

More peeling bark on the Eucalyptus.  It's so tactile.

Now that's a climber if ever I saw one.  Good job I was wearing a dress!

We'd spotted the church on the way in and hoped we could look around the inside.  Thankfully we could and it was fascinating.  It is St. Botolphs and there is some interesting history about it here.  It certainly doesn't look as if it dates back to the 14th century from the outside!

That's a mighty fine age for that era isn't it.

Holding hands in the afterlife.

Handles on flagstones in a church are always intriguing aren't they.  Very Dan Brown (Da Vinci Code etc) - where's Tom Hanks when you need him!