Either side of a curving path that leads along the top of the ‘moat’ wall, is a White Garden laid out by the Castle’s former owners. Some of the gardening cognoscenti are very sniffy about these pallid offerings, and I have never truly loved a White Garden before. This one though, is partly in semi shade, cast by a canopy of Prunus overhead, so has a lovely eerie quality: small shady grooves of deep green with white glistening through the gloom.
Lovely planting includes Halesia Carolina ( Snowdrop Tree), Davidia involucrata (Handkerchief Tree) and a mature Cornus nuttallii, all planted within 20feet of one another and jostling for light and nutrients. There is an as yet unknown (to me) goblet flowered Magnolia specie of graceful low shape. There are heavenly scented Escallonia and shrub upon shrub of spring flowering Deutzia and Philadelphus, over-arched with Amelanchier. All struggle for light and space, but now they are pruned and watered, my anticipation rises for next Spring.
But most striking are the mop-head Hydrangea, planted all along the edges of the walkway and around the house. I was ready to dislike them, so clumpy, so coastal, but now they are flowering under this canopy, it is like a rampant wedding party, mid-summer profusion lifting the spirits.
The under-planting though is lost is a sea of bramble, bay and sycamore. My arms are sore after hacking through this for the last few weeks but I am racing on to clear it before the Cyclamen flower. The corms are saucer sized, dormant still, so perhaps not the Autumn Cyclamen hederfolium, but the later flowering Cyclamen coum after all. Squeezed between them are the ferns, relishing shade and happy to have been ignored for years.
Whilst hacking through, I often wish the former owners could see this: their young saplings having at last reached the profusion they dreamt of . I feel lucky to be the beneficiary of that and I will add something, so that in forty years time some gardener can remember me. A circular sunny spot will allow me to plant Styrax japonicus, which according to my Hillier’s bible ‘combines daintiness and elegance with a hardy constitution’. My favourite since first spied at Hadrian’s Villa near Rome many years ago, luckily it is white.