A winter walk at Wakehurst Place

For a number of reasons spirits have been sinking lower and lower. A voluntary task was becoming a seriously unsustainable burden. Work was ramping up in pressure (albeit exactly as expected as moving into a busy time). An unforeseeable crisis caused stress and heartache which isn’t going to go away. Capacity was at full stretch, I’d worked all through last weekend and many evenings over recent weeks, and my head hurt.

Yesterday I made the decision that today would be a computer-free day. No spreadsheets, no agonising over balances and reconciliations, no shirty emails from people who should know better than to casually discourage willing volunteers.

And so it has been. Plenty of iDevice action, which has been restricted to reading the newspaper and interacting on social media, but no computers. More importantly, this afternoon we went to Wakehurst Place to meet our junior GrandBoys (also known as the small blond Sussex men) and their amazingly wonderful parents.

The sun was shining brightly and the sky was clear blue. Many people were strolling about in short sleeved t-shirts (and were obviously freezing as a result, the temperature not being above around 12 degrees and it still being February). It never ceases to amaze us how daft people can be …

We’d wanted to go to Wakehurst to see the new winter garden for a while so the rendezvous was an ideal choice. The small people weren’t up for a long walk so we pottered around close to the house, walled garden, and lake, and of course the new winter garden which is between the walled garden and the house.

It is obviously newly planted, and looks it, so we will be interested to see how it matures over time. I remember that we were slightly disappointed when we first visited the new exotic garden at RHS Wisley shortly after it opened, yet were bowled over a year or so later. We certainly didn’t experience any sense of “wow” this afternoon. Perhaps we will in a year or so’s time …

Anyway, here are some photos from our afternoon. The visit (cake-free on this occasion) certainly helped enormously with helping us on the necessary path towards feeling less stressed. My headache hasn’t gone, but it’s less pressing than before. Once again, garden visiting has hit the spot many other activities don’t get anywhere near.

Cyclamen at the entrance was glorious. Our two-year old was entranced.

Cornus has been used to good effect.

We felt that the paths were a little too visually dominant in the winter garden.

We weren’t particularly keen on this heather planting which looked a little blocky and static to us. We can’t see how it can develop.

Beautiful hamammelis; could definitely have welcomed more than just a couple of small specimens.

Grasses and cornus around the perimeter made for an interesting and attractive feature … although I inadvertently found myself trapped on the wrong side and had to drag a buggy (containing a small person) up a steep bank to get back.

7B826CEF-12B2-440F-9BDD-E7A91734DEB3Back outside the winter garden this mahonia was resplendent in its winter colours.

And the grasses around the lake looked stunning in the low sunshine.

0808E6C2-798F-451F-8608-6DADD475D6FDAnd I was able to use this stand of hydrangeas to give my daughter a master class in pruning/spring tidying.

All in all a successful visit. The problems haven’t gone away, but we had some respite.  I hope you’ve enjoyed visiting along with me.

Author: The Renaissance Gardener

Global issues, natural world, gardens, plants, family, music, books, laughter. Lives in West Sussex & is making a garden in south west France. Professional event organiser by day, and opinions about most things.

5 thoughts on “A winter walk at Wakehurst Place”

  1. The red twig dogwood seems to be more popular where it is not endemic. We have our one (but different) native species here. Many years ago, someone designed it into a new landscape in a manner comparagle to that in the picture. The problem was that it does not get coppiced annually like it does in cultivated landscapes. It grew big and wild, which was great for the quail, but bad for the intended effect in the landscape. Now that I am finally pollarding (to leave small trunks so that they do not get trampled) them, some are too deteriorated to salvage, while others have dominated. It is quite a mess, and will be for a few years.

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    1. That’s interesting, Tony. These coloured-stem dogwoods are being widely used these days in the UK, often in municipal plantings and plantings around new housing estates. But I think they still look good! We’ve planted five differently coloured varieties in the French garden.

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      1. Our native Cornus stolonifera is all the same rusty reddish brown, which can be nice if plants are coppiced. It must look much better in the snow, which we lack. The other red twig dogwoods are much more popular in the Pacific Northwest, where it actually snows.

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