Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A mediocre garden

With so many wonderful gardens in the UK, created with love and care and beautifully maintained, we gardeners are really rather spoiled. However there are also those gardens  that don't score a Gold or anywhere near.  One of the problems of being a professional is that we become very critical and are not easily pleased. Earlier today, I visited Doddington Hall near Lincoln. It was not a good day, to put it mildly! Last night, I had suffered from a migraine but having promised to meet my sister, I decided to go ahead with the trip. Wanting a stress free journey, I opted to take the scenic route via Southwell rather than cross Nottingham and take the new A46 - big mistake! The bridge over the River Trent at Kelham was closed, presumably for repairs or roadworks, resulting in a 40 minute nose to tail crawl through the country lanes up to the A616. So much for a stress free journey!

Curiously the left hand wing has five floors whereas the right had side has just three, as the windows would indicate

Some neatly trimmed heraldic topiary

Maybe this and my sister's frosty reception on my late arrival, didn't put me in the mood for garden visiting but Doddington, despite its pedigree going back to the 17C didn't impress! Much is made of the kitchen garden 'restored in 2007 to its former glory with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.' Sadly, there is little heritage about this as its just large blocks of vegetables, grown in production style with all the charm of a farmer's field. It's organic which I suppose is commendable and there were some fine cordon apples and pears on the walls but little to really attract us gardeners. Inevitably the produce is sold in the farm shop alongside 'Pink Lady' apples from New Zealand and other imported fruit and vegetables.

Where's the heritage?

Top marks for well trained cordons

Great to see these patty pan squash

Farmer's field?

The grounds did contain some fine mature trees, a great Catalpa, Indian bean tree, a beautiful Juglans nigra, the black walnut and an impressive Quercus x hispanica 'Lucombeana'. This fine evergreen oak is a cross between the Turkey oak, Q. cerris and the cork oak, Q. suber. It was originally raised by William Lucombe at his Exeter nursery in 1762. William liked his oak so much, that he felled the original tree and kept the timber under his bed so that his coffin could be made from it. However he survived until he was age 102 and the original timber had rotted, so alternatives had to be obtained for his final set of clothes. I originally came across this tree at Reading University, where we had a huge specimen in the Wilderness, along with the similar Quercus x turneri. More details on these oaks, click here.

The Lucombe oak - Gillian and Alan looking suitably impressed

Close up of oak foliage

At the rear of the house there is an extensive parterre, divided into four quarters which do not match, being made of four separate neatly balanced designs. Some of the beds were planted with colourful Chinese asters and soft blue salvias. Other beds contained flag iris, colourful no doubt earlier but tedious untidy plants after their flush of flower. Sadly some sections were just empty soil and parts of the parterre appeared to be badly suffering from box blight. Altogether a rather sorry looking sight!

Excuse the blur - shot from upstairs through 17C glass

Great to see these cottage garden plants

Box as it should be

Box blight - what a curse

Cyclamen hederifolium

Japanese wineberries - edible but limited crop so more of an ornamental and curiosity

Leather horse shoes - for horses used in the 19C to pull original gang mowers

Giving credit where due, the food in the cafe was good but it certainly wasn't a bargain lunch and on this busy day, we had plenty of time to build our appetites waiting for the food! As this was an RHS partner garden I didn't pay for entry, so I guess my criticism is perhaps a little churlish but there again, I always tell you when a garden is good!

1 comment:

  1. I would say you are spoiled in the way of gardens. While the vegetable areas lack some over-the-top design amenities, we in the US could learn so much from this one place. Spatial definition, unusual plants that actually offer greatness (that Lucombe Oak...WOW!), and so on.

    Yet I can imagine what might be designed and built, to push it over the top. Would enjoy your ideas!