Friday, 12 April 2013

Fri: call this spring?

Well, I don't. It's been cold, wet and miserable all week, and I have done less than half of my usual work, groan.  About the only good thing you can say about this so-called spring weather is that at least the weeds aren't up in force yet.

Mind you, neither are the daffodils.

Which reminds me, last weekend I went round Buckland Lakes, opened under the NGS Yellow Book scheme: my friend Marina recommended it as being a good place to go and look at conifers, but it turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, as there were only about two conifers there. Mind you, the Ice House was nice.

I got quite excited when Marina suggested it, as on the map it appeared that the grounds of Buckland House had quite a lot of mixed woodlands, with a lot of the little pointy conifer symbols, and a quick internet search came up with "6 acres of mixed woodland", but alas,  the grounds weren't open, just the lakeside walk. It appears that the lady who owns the lakes does not have any sort of arrangement with the owner of the House to allow the once-a-year visitors to enjoy the woodlands as well as the lake, which is a bit of a shame.

Had there been any level of co-operation, we might have been presented with a circular walk, instead of an out-and-back along one side of the lakes and back again. I always find this a disappointment when visiting gardens, do you?   I seem to remember being quite scathing on the subject when I visited Bourton House garden a couple of years ago. Almost every path they had was a dead end, and I grew very irritated with it. Not only do you keep bumping into other visitors - and I mean literally bumping, if the paths are not wide enough for two to pass - but it means you keep coming to a dead halt, and not for the good reason of being stopped in your tracks by admiration for a plant or a statue or a view, but for the bad reason of there not being any attempt to create any sort of coherent path through the garden.

This was the situation at the Buckland lakes - at the very end, there was a rope across the path and a sign indicating that visitors must turn around, and every single visitor ambled up to it, was brought up short by the rope, and said "Oh!" out loud. Usually followed by "oh dear, do we have to turn back?" in various degrees of disappointment.

And then, as you trudge your way back along the path, not looking around as you have seen it all already, it's quite painful to see the optimistic faces of the new arrivals falling, as they are greeted with a stream of  returners, somewhat in the manner of salmon swimming against the tide.

And, to get back to the daffodils, I know these openings have to be booked at least 18 months in advance, and you can't choose your weather, but oh! what a shame it was for the owner, that spring is so late this year. All the snowdrops had gone over, and hardly any of the daffodils were out.  I expect that in a fortnight or so, it will be a glorious walk, but last weekend? Frankly, it was a bit dull.

I'm a big fan of lakes: as you'll know if you've read much of this blog, I work in a couple of gardens who have lakes (I'm so lucky! I love my job!) so I'm familiar with the problems and joys of gardening around water.  And I have to say, as lakes go, these ones were a bit on the dull side.  We were on what you might call the "far" side of the lakes, away from the house - so from our perspective, there was a flat sheet of water, then a flat sheet of grass leading up to the House in the distance. Somewhat less than eye-catching, especially as, because of the perspective, the view didn't really change from one end of the lakes to the other.

From the house, or from the other side of the lakes, at least you'd get the sheet of water with trees reflected in it, which would have been more interesting, and is another point in favour of the circular walk going around the lake, rather than along it and back.  No doubt when the lakes were built - and they were built, they are not natural - it was for the benefit of the folks in the Big House, so from their  point of view I expect it looks lovely every day.

There seems to be a bit of taboo about daring to say that a garden was less than "lovely" but honestly? This one (not  a garden, a lakeside walk) was far from lovely.  Ah well, can't win them all, and at least, being NGS, the entrance money is going to charity.

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