Forde Abbey is a former Cistercian monastery dating from the c12. Grade 1 listed, it is now privately owned. The gardens and parts of the house are open to the public, and in Michelin guide speak Forde undoubtedly Mérite le détour and is Vaut le Voyage. In spring, the gardens are filled with thousands of tulips. Here is a small collection.
“Assorted Aquilegia” is probably what it said on the packet. But it came from a wholesome source not unconnected with Perch Hill, and the results of the experiment have been gratifyingly immediate and colourful this year. New soil in the beds (after a lengthy lay-off from any serious attempt at cultivation) may have something to do with it as well. Here are some of the flowers snapped on an iPhone this weekend.
November. A month when summer flowers are over – or if not, get banjaxed by the first touch of frost. Here’s a dahlia, newly planted this year, that decided to keep calm and carry on. For the moment, at least. The flowers are still near-perfect, even at close quarters; and the leaves haven’t yet started to blacken and go squishy in the traditional way. It’s only a matter of time, though…
As part of a clearing project in the spring, we rescued an old rose that had been smothered by ivy and creeper. Two thirds of it was dead, and was simply hacked out and removed. The rest was decidedly unwell, so we took a ‘kill or cure’ approach and cut it right back. It responded by shooting vigorously and is now, in the first week of November, on its second flowering of the season. Amazingly, the flowers are almost entirely blemish-free; and the formerly diseased leaves are fresh and green. I expect the first frost will spoil them, but on a sunny late autumn day, they are cheerful sight.
Mrs RH chose and planted this rose when she was in her early teens. It’s good to have revived it now. It would be nice to know the variety.
Here’s a second bunch of flowers from a Dorset garden in June. Those few who kindly sniffed the first bunch may have wondered why none was labelled. That’s because, for most of them (apart from the obvious ones) I have no idea of the names. Or did once, but have forgotten them. And for familiar ones, I feel putting “Pink Rose” isn’t much help if you really want to know if it’s a Rosaflora Grandiloquens “Dame Edna Everage” or not. If I name 2 or 3 but not the rest, it still looks a bit… wrong. So it’s just ‘flars’, as Eliza Doolittle might say.