Thursday, 7 June 2012

Coombe Trenchard Garden Festival - A delightfully English day out

Coombe Trenchard House

 What could be a more quintessentially English event to attend on  Jubilee weekend than the Arts and Crafts Gardens Festival presented by Garden's Illustrated at Coombe Trenchard in Devon?  Well being stuck in slow-moving traffic on a coastal road overrun with cars towing caravans for one thing.  I was was beginning to cool on my love affair with Doris, the vintage caravan used to such enchanting effect in Jo Thompson's garden for the Caravan Club at Chelsea although it has to be said these caravans weren't in the same league.  Diverting off into a myriad of winding Devon lanes we skirted north of a gloomy, grey, mist cloaked, Dartmoor, eventually emerging into the cocooning warmth and sunlight of the peaceful parkland where Coombe Trenchard nestles, hidden down some pretty lanes to the west of the moor. By this time I was feeling slightly car sick (another reminder of childhood bank holidays!) and more than a little out of sorts having already fallen victim to yet another nasty sinussy cold only days after I believed I was beginning to recover from the last one.

A quick lunch, a chat with friends and some long overdue horticultural retail therapy from the interesting garden and craft stands on the lawned terraces sloping down from the house and I was more than cheered, particularly when I met the handsome and charming Oakley!

Simon Suter's dog Oakley steals the show!

A rustic tent with hay bale seating decorated with some fine bunting provided the setting for Lia Leendertz' talk on creating a night-time garden.  I was right in my expectation that Lia would be an engaging speaker but wrong in having believed that the subject matter itself would not engage me.  Once you get past the inevitable mention of the evening opening  Zalusianskya ovata (which I bought before 'everyone' caught on to them) which does indeed waft it's sensuous scent around in the fading light, what else is there to say? The only time we tend to use an evening garden now is when we are on holiday, relaxing in some foreign evening warmth.  At home I'm usually settled on the sofa watching Corrie by that time. Lia reminded me of the various evening emotions my own garden had evoked over the years, the heavy sweet scent of the honeysuckle by the back door as I sat in the dark with my emptying glass of wine making the decision to leave my job of sixteen years, the moths hovering around the white phlox catching its evening light and the attention of our ageing cat who spent much of  his late years curled sleeping in the scented bed.

NB: Lia did NOT make the bunting herself!

Several audience members were busy jotting down ideas about sculptural shapes and shadows thrown by plants in the evening and I started to feel quite inspired, until I remembered our new vile neighbours massive outdoor lights which flood our entire garden but which have only been on once - so far... But we don't want to think about that. A bit more shopping and perusing plant stands and a quick wander around the woodland then we retire to  the terrace overlooking the gardens and serenaded by a string quartet, devour a rather decent cream tea.

The remains of the tea
As we are about to leave the misty rain begins to descend from Dartmoor and sticks with us for most of our drive home.  Mixed weather, gardens, bunting, traffic and tea - a very English summer day out indeed!


Ms B said...

Well you just transported me away from this dreary rainy day & annoying flapping pigeons for a few summer filled moments.

patientgardener said...

what a delightful outing - what more could you ask for. I dont use my garden in the evening either

Petra/Oxonian Gardener said...

Sorry to have missed it. Will add to calendar for next year. Plus big awwwwww for Oakley... handsome little fellow.

Helle (Helen) said...

Oakley deserved to steal the show - nighttime lighting in the garden, I'm not so sure. There seems already to be so much light on at night - street lamps, porch lamps, light from windows etc. I find it really does not need anymore - and in autumn all this non-natural light can seriously confuse migrating birds and gets them into all sorts of trouble. Obviously don't mean a couple of lamps in somebody's garden, but the whole mix together.