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Chickens, Roses, The Courts Gardens and the National Trust

Last Saturday and as we’re en route to collect our chicken coop – that was actually advertised as a chicken coupe, that was actually a rabbit hutch – we drive past a sign for the Rose Garden at The Courts in Holt.

Sunday afternoon and we’re back. Waiting in the queue and debating whether we’re going to pay £20 for the pair of us for a one off visit or £120 for the year – “only £10 per month sir” – and before we know it Matthew is filling in the form for us, we’re making the Gift Aid declaration and again I’m a member……

I’ve been a fair weather member before. Toby’s first day out 15 years ago was down the drive at Dyrham Park and then his first day out with just his dad was almost 14 years to the day when I took him on my own (!) to Shearwater for a dad and lad picnic - but I’d lapsed in recent years.

It was the lure of the rose garden that dragged me back. Having spent some time recently sorting out some deadheading I thought I’d see how the head gardener there had tackled things. He has far more to look after than I could ever dream of but what a fantastic display. More varieties and types of rose than I could have imagined – and as for the fragrance. We certainly didn’t need to stick our noses too close to get the benefit.

One of the other things that caught my eye was the kitchen garden. I’m always amazed at how much more organised and tidy they are compared to the allotment! One of the things that I was particularly drawn to was the salad pallet – a simple wooden pallet, lined with membrane and filled with soil, planted up with a variety of lettuce and then placed at an angle to enjoy the sun! I think I’ll try the same alongside my planted up wheelbarrow up at the allotment. If nothing else the rabbits will have a challenge getting to the frisee and radicchio!

And the espalier pear trees. Something that is close to my heart….. There were loads of them – apples and pears. Some of the pears had a bit of scab but nothing that would be a disaster. What I liked was how the trees had been used to provide such an attractive and natural divide between different parts of the garden. Not a hard or solid divide but one that allowed dappled light through into other areas – and was productive as well. Gave me the inspiration to persevere with mine.

My 18 month old maiden. Being "taught" how I want it to behave before I replace the twine with a nice, strong straining wire.

Something to aim for........

But the big question of course is, did we have a cream tea? Well yes. We did! Lesson there though is when you’re asked if you want “one or two” what you’re really being told is that one cream tea is actually two scones each. And that one scone each is more than enough. And what you really want to do is have one cream tea and an extra pot of tea. But yes, I gave them a really good go!

I’m pleased to have succumbed though. I’m looking forward to spending more time enjoying the gardens and landscapes – some of which are on our doorstep – and getting more ideas and inspiration.

If you would like to know more about the pear tree or if you simply want to know more about the cream teas please get in touch either through my facebook page, at or on 07734 365028.


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