Furzey Gardens


Early this morning I walked down to the village shop, returning via the church footpath and The Splash. Churchyard cow parsley The snowdrops, crocuses, and daffodils have made way in the churchyard for cow parsley.

On my return I had a chat with Gladys and Dave in the garden.  John, otherwise known as Sisyphus (see 19th March post), was just arriving for his day’s gardening.  Nodding in the direction of Jackie who was sitting outside our kitchen door, Dave said she was about to be upset because John would start the day’s lawn mowing.  ‘Oh no’, said I, ‘she loves it.  We are going to Furzey Gardens this afternoon.  She cannot go out in the morning he visits because she gives him coffee at eleven o’clock’.  Gladys responded that she provides his one o’clock cup of tea.  ‘He also brings his own flask’, added Dave.  I was still laughing when I returned to our flat and told Jackie this.  She  quipped that he was like Six Dinner Sid.  Sid is a cat,  the hero of a story told by Inga Moore (2004).  He visits six homes in turn, all of which provide him with a dinner.

Nuthatch female

It is just as well there are no cats, either resident or visiting, in our building, because we are really getting to know our nuthatch family.  Dad has been visiting the feeding station for some time now; having a scoff and a few words with Jackie; then, sated, flying off with some food in his beak.  Now he just feeds himself.  Mum has presumably been sitting on a nest somewhere nearby, but definitely not in the tree to which Dad has been flying as a decoy.  The eggs must have hatched and the juveniles grown up a bit, for she has now emerged and taken her place on the finial of the pole, surveying her offspring’s fearless adventures.

Nuthatch juvenileThe younger bird has not learned to be afraid, and consequently skips around beneath our feet.  He nipped up the steps as Jackie stood watching amazed, and, skirting her trainers, explored the stonework, no doubt seeking insects.

In order for John to prune the hedges around Jackie’s hanging baskets and bird feeders, she has had to move them inside for the day.  The fliers zooming in for nosh were somewhat confused by this.  They swooped, they saw, they scarpered.  ‘Where’, you could see them thinking, ‘has it gone?  I know I left it here’.

Rhododendrons at Furzey gardens

The trip to Furzey Gardens was the culmination of three consecutive days of horticultural feasting.  Aviemore provided breathtaking beauty in a compact, packed, area;  MacPenny’s offered maturity in a large space; Furzey is endlessly stunning in acres of rolling woodland.  RhododendronsBerry had told me this was the time to come because of the rhododendrons.  We have magnificent species in our garden, but nothing could have prepared me for this dazzling array set off at its best on a gloriously sunny day.

Created in 1922 the house and garden remained in the Dalrymple family until the 1960s when it was bought by the charity that now runs it in partnership with the Minstead Training project.

House and shrubbery

Numerous paths take the visitor on a magical tour of shrubberies filled with the most unusual bushes, trees, and plants, collected from all over the world. EnkianthusShrubbery and building There are thatched buildings dotted about, many of which have liitle doors set for fairies.  A child’s note accompanied by a wilting bunch of wild flowers lay on a spar of wood.  A play area contains climbing structures, swings, and even a disused rowing boat that looks as if it had been stranded when the waters of the winter subsided.Gunnera Candelabra primulas A number of plants such as the enormous gunnera or the abundant, healthy, candelabra primulas, provide evidence of the boggy nature of some of the forest soil.Bridge over pond Flower bed There is a substantial pond. Pergola seat A wisteria Elizabeth would be proud of, festoons a rustic pergola and seat. Alpacas The alpacas featured on the 30th March can be seen in the distance in a meadow of wild flowers accessible only to staff and students.  Jackie in gardensThere is still much to be done to restore parts of this amazing treasure to its former glory, and inroads are definitely being made. Child in Furzey Gardens I am not sure how much of the uncultivated area is to remain wild, but I hope a reasonable amount.  The original house is now a place of retreat.

At Chelsea in 2012, the Minstead Training Project carried off gold for the Show Garden.  It is in the process of being brought back to its roots in Furzey Gardens.

This evening we dined on belly of pork roasted long and slow by Jackie.  I drank half a bottle of the Blason des Papes Chateauneuf du Pape 2011, a really excellent wine she bought me for Christmas.


3 responses to “Furzey Gardens”

  1. […] Brothers Builders, who are painting the downpipes.  I am not sure whether or not Gladys is doing the one o’clock tea (see post of 4th June).  I will soon expect a queue of tradespeople offering their […]

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