Thursday, 12 December 2013

Savillers in the Mist


Christmas coloured cornus brightens the misty mood

Time for the 'Ladies who Launch' pre-Chrimbo meet and this time the chosen venue is the delightful Savill Garden in posh Surrey.  Leaving the bright blue skies of sunny Brighton behind I headed up the M23 in the Sockmobile - a hair-raising  journey of frequent fog patches worsening the nearer I got to the Savill Garden. By the time I arrived I could barely see my 'Ladies' through the mist!

A steaming mug of coffee in the fine cafeteria at the visitors centre and we were ready to brave the penetrating damp cold.  It seemed such a shame to be visiting at this time of year, that brown, soggy, mournful, misty season when the dreary autumn leaves have dropped into damp decaying piles and everything is a bit dead or glum.  Add to this mournful scene the swirl of a dull grey smog and reasons to be cheerful were rapidly vanishing. Or so I thought...

A brocade of dying flower heads in rich autumn hues

How wrong could I be? Apart from the delightful company of my silly friends who always light up any occasion - the gardens themselves were fantastic! A lesson in how winter creates its own wonderland without the need of Santa and snow to show it off.  The rich brown and purple autumn hues were punctuated with the brightest of Christmas reds. (Double clic on any picture to get a better slideshow, as usual blogger fuzzes the photos slightly.)

Tree bark redder than  a reindeer's nose!

Every tree, every fallen leaf, every shrivelled bud or fruit on tree had its own form, and texture creating wonderful patterns .

A carpet of silver and brown

 Whilst the wider landscape was enshrouded in mist

the minutiae was all, I couldn't look at it without imagining it inspiring the finest textiles rich with pattern and threadwork, embossed with the tiny crystals of dew on spider's webs. 

Whilst my fellow 'Ladies' are both very knowledgeable about horticulture (LazyTrollop applies her talents gardening for people and the Highly Organised Helen Reeley has her own Landscape business) I am not particularly a plantsperson.  I garden by colour and texture as far as possible with random regard to any rules - much as I live the rest of my life.  Had I listened properly, I may have heard my companions naming the various trees and shrubs we passed but I was too busy  recounting the latest set of disasters to befall the Socks and my "Why I hate Christmas" stories. I was stopped in my tracks (for a while) by this fabulous tree, which I think they agreed was some sort of malus. With its tiny yellow and red fruits just beginning to shrivel - it looked like a modern art picture  This was my absolute favourite

We moved onto the rose garden which I didn't realise was designed in 2010 by twitter friend Andrew Wilson (@andrewwilsonii).  It was a shame we hadn't read the blurb (interesting piece in the Telegraph here ) because it was quite marvellous and it always adds to the occasion when you can associate a place with someone you know. The walkway in the centre reminded me of the prow of the titanic and impossible not to indulge in the Winslet/DiCaprio thing at the end.   [LazyTrollop took the pictures here so I can't share those with you until I have persuaded her to let me have one and then photoshopped out any superfluous chins and wrinkles.]

It was obvious from the moment we entered the Savill Garden that everything was immaculately kept, even down to the perfect edging of the borders.  Nowhere was this truer than in the rose garden where Helen voiced her astonishment at the extraordinary way all the roses had been pruned to exactly the same shape and size, as if someone with an extreme OCD had been in control of the secateurs. The overall ordered effect was very pleasing even in its winter bareness. In summer standing on the walkway with the scent of the roses rising up to its prow must be a very special experience.

 We warmed up in the greenhouse where despite the no-entry barrier stopping people tramping all over the Chistmas display, Helen was determined to get a robin on her hat again like last year..

Helen & robin 2012
Helen and robin 2013

Unfortunately, after we had left, a naughty child entered the display and chucked fake snow at us. Really some children should be kept under control!

Shiny bark like chic Christmas wrapping paper

On to the New Zealand garden - this was being constructed when I visited with the Bedsock some years ago and we had always meant to return to see it. Here again the joy was in the form,  this ocean of carex comans rolling waves of grass onto the shoreline

I found the subtle shades of autumn leaves caught up in this curly stemmed bush most amusing

It may just be clumps of blue grass but the patterns formed when grown en masse like this add a whole new dimension

Who needs to buy tinsel when spiders can spin it for  free?

The cafeteria food is good and my fellow Ladies felt the visitors centre was one of the most beautiful architectural buildings they had seen (I was not quite as taken with it).  The gardens have obviously got a lot to offer at all times of year - I visited with the Bedsock previously in early Autumn and the hydrangea collection was a revelation. No faded pastels of old lady pants here - these hydrangeas are chic and classy!

I thoroughly recommend a visit to Savill and will ensure my next one is not a long time coming.


VP said...

I went to a talk given by Andrew Wilson a few years ago, just after the rose garden had opened. Apparently on busy days there's a queue to perform that 'Titanic moment'.

I'm a firm believer in 'out of season' garden visiting - there's always something of interest to be found and I find they really help to counteract the winter blues.

Anonymous said...

You've perfectly captured some of the ephemeral beauty of a good winter garden, without need of frost and glitter. Sounds like a lovely visit.

Anonymous said...

I do wish that wordpress and blogspot would get their act together. Blogspot posts are not always showing in my timeline so I missed this one.
We used to live by the Thames just up the river from Windsor.Windsor Great Park and Savill Gardens used to be a regular haunt for us, so we got to see the big visitor centre being built. We would particularly enjoy our New Year's day walk round the park stopping off for a cup of tea at the Savill Gardens tea shop, (when it was just a little place off to the right of where the main building now is). The Polo grounds are a short walk from the Savill Gardens so in the summer we would wander up there to see the Henrys and Farquhars trotting around. I was always a big fan of the Valley Gardens on the other side of the water. It has been a good few years since we have been back. Your post has inspired us to get there soon. I see it is free entry throughout December. Even more of reason to go.
Lovely photos. :)

Juliet said...

Hi Arabella,

Sorry I haven't had time to keep up with your blog over the last few months - we are finally in the middle of moving house and I've been spending all my time wrestling with the mountains of emails and forms from estate agents and solicitors. I just dropped in to wish you a Merry Christmas, though as you hate it perhaps I should be sending a bah humbug card instead. Savill Garden in the mist looks lovely - must add it to my to-visit list.