Helmsley Walled Garden
A walled garden must be every gardener's dream - sheltered from the elements that often take their toll on our own patches - especially after a heavy downfall - whose delphiniums aren't looking a little sorry for themselves after the recent soaking? A couple of weeks ago a good friend of mine, who happens to be a professional gardener, suggested a trip to Helmsley Walled Garden. We often meet up and do a walk together but it was looking like quite a hot day so a lovely garden with some shade - and nice café beckoned.
The garden originally provided fruit and vegetables for the Feversham household at Duncombe Park until just after World War One when it got leased out as a market garden. Sadly, it fell derelict over the years and it wasn't until 1994 that its restoration started thanks to the vision and sheer hard work of a local lady, Alison Ticehurst. Alison wanted the garden not only to be a beautiful site once again but also to be a place for horticultural therapy. Today supported volunteers learn horticultural skills here whilst at the same time benefiting from new skills and gaining confidence.
The garden now contains a spectacular long double herbaceous border planted with vibrant reds, yellow and oranges; a white garden; a clematis garden and orchards. Wherever you are the castle is always a looming presence - whether behind formal layouts....
...or as a backdrop to pretty wildflower meadows. Doesn't this look quintessentially English with its daisies and bright red poppies peering out from the long grass?
Even the cow parsley looks gorgeous rather than unruly especially when it's set off with a mowed path down the centre with an orchard either side.
The bright yellow laburnum arch and purple alliums dancing at either side look stunning at this time of year...it was an irresistible photograph to take.
Did you ever read The Secret Garden as a child? Well, this door really reminded me of this book. Wouldn't you have loved to find a hidden garden like Mary Lennox did in the story? I wonder what is behind this lovely old door.
As well as the gardens, the glasshouses have all been restored and house a fantastic array of plants including succulents and this impressive display of gourds.
Alongside the floral attractions and not forgetting some rather cute looking resident hens, there is also a wonderful cafe here. The Vine House Café is in a restored Victorian vinery where you can eat beneath the vines or in the courtyard.
The café serves mouth-watering cakes and gorgeous lunches including delicious salads. Mine contained strawberries and blueberries which I wouldn't have thought of adding. I did try this at home afterwards, serving up a mixed salad with grapes and blueberries - it took a bit of convincing my brood that the fruit hadn't got in there by accident - I have now moved over to the 'anything goes' mindset when putting together a salad thanks to my fruity salad encounter.
If you get a chance to visit, the garden is looking stunning at the moment with a blaze of colour in the borders; lovely wildflower meadows sprawling out beneath orchards of apple and pear trees as well as a plant centre offering plenty of inspiration to take home with you.