Sunday, 8 May 2016

Hole Park Gardens - totally fabulous and magical

People have told me that Hole Park Garden is a 'must visit' for the bluebells, but Battleaxe hadn't realised just what a wonderful place it is.  We went just in time to catch the bluebells before they went over, the garlic was amazing, rhododendrons and azaleas were just arriving, tulips were still out, and the trees had the most beautiful delicate spring foliage. 

 
Could bluebells be bluer?

    Hole Park is tucked away just outside Rolvendon. Admission is £7 for adults, but in our view, worth every penny. It is open daily for bluebell and wisteria season, then just two days a week over the summer, then Sundays only during the autumn. There is an excellent tea/room cafe, with outside seating, in the old stableyard. We had both our coffee break and our lunch there. Plants for sale, too.
    The estate still belongs to the Barham family, who laid out the garden around 1911. There are many large mature trees incorporated into the garden, which would once have stood in the park - I love big trees.
Beautiful copper beech
     One huge specimen had a swing on it with amazingly long ropes - Battleaxe couldn't resist.
Swinging Battleaxe
     We hadn't expected anything except a bluebell wood, but the garden itself is lovely, with a walled garden and magnificent yew hedges, with lots of sculptural topiary.  Apparently, when they are clipped, the clippings go to make anti-cancer drugs. Tamoxifen?
'The Eagle Slayer' was exhibited at the Great Exhibition in 1851

Lovely tulips
Walled garden
    The best is the woodland garden. Some of it is semi-cultivated with ornamental maples, rhododendrons and azaleas, looking dazzling in the spring sunshine.  The ground beneath was covered in bluebells, wild garlic, primroses, wood anemones..... We also spotted a little plantation of purple camassias - quite unusual.
Woodland Garden

Woodland garden

Camassias
Azaleas

Vibrant red rhododendron

     This was all wonderful but we hadn't even got to the bluebell wood or the wild garlic valley. This was truly mind-blowing. Stunning. I have never seen such dense drifts of bluebells.  It is always hard to photograph bluebells - they come out too pale, too dark, too purple.  But I've tried my best, and I'll let the photos speak for themselves.
     Oh - one last thing, it was quiet in the wood - just us and the birdsong for much of the time - and we heard a cuckoo.