There was once a rather grand lime walkway that led from The Castle to its few acres to the west, now Castle House. Some still survive, waiting for Russell’s gang to climb them to check for rot. As well as a number of other features that the Bacons added to the garden (including my bete noir, the grand flight of concrete steps), here they added a new feature to the lime walkway: a yew corridor that sits inside the trees and terminates in a line of fence.
It seems a nice solution to this now truncated view and in order to make the area work better, I am adding a yew hedge on the bare boundary behind it, fronted with a line of pleached limes, that being a nice nod to the original plan, I think. I know it sounds like some Chelsea Flower Show nightmare show garden (shortly the obsession with pleached hornbeam will be over) but I imagine in time, probably beyond my time, the thick truncated limbs of these trees suiting my Victorian garden. And I am making the most of new varieties. Mine will be Tilia cordata ‘Winter Orange’, which I first saw, rather unglamorously, planted behind the cafeteria at Kew Gardens. So while we will have the lovely sharp green of the lime leaves fluttering in Spring and Summer, in the winter the stems will be a warm orange. I hope not to achieve the garish hue of swathes of Cornus stems that you see in every ubiquitous Winter Garden, which reminds me of car parks, even in the skilled hands of the Savill or Cambridge Botanic Gardens. But I do hope that in time, we may make a small stab at a winter scene here, perhaps with my favourite Viburnum farreri, the smattering of Crocus tommasinianus that we already have in the lawn and pride of place to Chimonanthus praecox ‘Grandiflorus’ in shelter and sun, giving warm yellow flowers streaked with maroon in February. Bliss.
At the moment though, the lawn is scattered with speedwell and of course, primroses. These flowers should have a special place on the Isle of Wight: it is from here that Queen Victoria sent boxes of the flowers to Benjamin Disraeli from her retreat at Osbourne house, at Tennyson’s home in Freshwater, the flowers grew abundantly, lining what he called his ‘path of dalliance’ and it was here, of course, that Keat’s wrote in his letters that he wished to rename the place ‘Primrose Island’ such was the profusion of the flowers ( see The Poet as Botanist by M.M. Mahood ‘Primroses at Dove Cottage and Down House’). I will be splitting and spreading mine to fill this place.