….. we went to Abbotsbury Gardens which are a delight to visit at any time of year. Just now it is Camellia and Magnolia time. On a beautifully warm, cardigan’s-enough, Spring Day I took Mum out to lunch there. We ate on the verandah of the colonial style restaurant. Mum had a Brie salad and I had a baguette with a small pot of chips which Mum shared. As she dipped her chips and slices of her pickled onion into her small pot of Branston Pickle I thought, give me such zest for life if I make old bones!!
I borrowed a carriage so Mum did a mix of walking and riding round the gardens. They were established in 1765 by the first Countess of Ilchester as a kitchen garden for her nearby castle. The building is no more but since then they have developed into a magnificent 20-acre garden filled with rare and exotic plants from all over the world. Many of these plants were first introductions to this country, discovered by the plant-hunting descendants of the Countess. Alan Titchmarsh says of Abbotsbury “One of the finest gardens I have ever visited”. I feel fortunate to have this haven so close by.
Not all the tracks are vehicle-friendly but we managed up and down the minor slopes, and Mum and I were charmed. With the occasional glimpses of colourful birdlife and the intermittent loud and piercing call of the male peacock we certainly had a sense of the exotic.
Inevitably we end up in the Plant Sales section where I buy a pink Magnolia stellata Leonard Messel for WK and some other perennials. The Magnolia variety is said to be one of the prettiest and can be grown as a shrub or small tree.
A pot of tea for two and a shared slice of Carrot Cake rounded the afternoon off nicely.