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I visited Barnsdale Gardens in Rutland today, for the first time (I’m ashamed to admit) and had a marvellous three hours.  It has been a glorious day for exploring Rutland and I went in search of inspiration for my about-to-be-built-blank-canvas of a garden.  And I found it, in the 39 individual gardens, each a self-contained ‘room’ with a different gardening and planting style, all joined together by a network of pathways and naturalised plantings.  The gardens were created by Geoff Hamilton, the much-loved TV gardener who fronted BBC Gardeners World for years until his untimely death in 1996.

was I tempted? of course

I took my special gardener’s notebook and, feeling like a ‘proper’ gardener, scribbled as I went round, writing down the latin names of the beautiful plants that were sparkling in the spring sunshine.   Yes folks, I really am turning into my mother, who was always doing this when she visited gardens and stately homes.  Worse, she would sometimes nip off a sneaky cutting with her nail scissors, stuffing her treasure in a plastic bag kept specially for this purpose and tucked into her handbag.

helleborus orientales

My favourites, earmarked for my own garden are the hellebores, anemones, primulas and scillas – though as you’d expect there were plenty of golden daffodils and nodding narcissus too.  There were several great ideas that I’d love to replicate in my own garden, from the herbs planted in terracotta pipes to the hostas (still dormant) planted in stone troughs to keep them out of the way of slugs.  And I coveted the old-fashioned cloches, and rhubarb forcers too.

Victorian cloches

‘The garden is blessed with dozens of different seats of all shapes and sizes so that wherever you are, you can sit a while and contemplate each garden, or simply rest and enjoy the sights, smells and sounds: the birds were singing their socks off today

Entrance was £6.50, but I think I must join the Friends of Barnsdale Gardens so that I can visit as often as I like during the next 12 months, which would be great value at £22 (or only £37 for a couple.  I plan to visit every 2 months or so, looking for ideas for year-round planting!

herbs in terracotta pipe ‘planters’

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