… the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise
of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.”
– Gertrude Jekyll, On Gardening
Last Sunday we decided to take the day off from cleaning and clearing and go down into Derbyshire for a walk around the open gardens in the village of Birchover near Bakewell.
It was if you remember a very hot day and not a lot of shade for me but I was determined to see as many of the gardens as possible I just had to walk more quickly around the ones out in the open. Luckily most people have a tree or two which provided me with some cover when I needed it.
We began our tour at an artists garden – this was my absolute favourite although my photo does not do it justice.
I have never seen a garden with such a limited colour palette before but this one really works. There were three basic colours – green of course with many shades and tones of purple and cream through to lemon. The planting was casual and mainly Ferns, Irises, Alchemilla Mollis, Geranium and Lavender and the majestic plant to the right (which may be a Thalictrum?) all surrounding a daisy lawn. The paint colour of the house toned in well with the garden. The effect was amazing.
Behind this ladies cottage is a tiny white-painted chalet used as an artist’s studio and gallery complete with wood burning stove. This would be my absolute dream.
Before long we headed for the village hall named the Reading Rooms were they were serving tea and cakes.
The hall has now had a full refurbishment and is well used by all members of the community.
The notice on the wall made interesting reading – the hall opened in 1907, but only men were allowed to go and read the newspapers provided to broaden their horizons. The rules state that 3 newspapers had to be provided (which I forgot to make a note of but I think one was the Sporting Times!) and no women were allowed.
It was a good cup of tea and a delicious slice of Victoria sandwich cake made by the village ladies.
Lower down the lane is the church of St Michael’s originally built as a private chapel for the owners of Rowtor Hall.
It is a modest church with a tiny graveyard sited next to the huge old vicarage (now a private residence). In the large picture below you can see that this would have been the garden entrance from the hall which then became the vicarage from what I understand.
In contrast to the traditional window in the chancel the stained glass windows pictured below in the South wall are the work of acclaimed artist Brian Clarke and generously gifted to the village. Clarke lived in Birchover for a number of years and his work has worldwide recognition.
The striking clear colours and simple shapes are stunning.
The pew ends had been delicately decorated with a few wild flowers for the event.
On leaving the church we decided to wander further down the lane to stay in the shade.
The notice above is asking the Council not to spray this section of verge to preserve the wild flowers and the organic garden beyond.
We eventually came across Rowtor Rocks – a series of caves and intriguing rocks to explore – we will definitely go back and have a walk around here another day. This is just one of the unusual caves at the entrance.
Such a beautiful day the light dancing on the water and through the overhanging trees was quite spectacular.
We walked all the way up to Rocking Stone Farm with the promise of Pimms and strawberries – well worth the trek even in the heat.
We walked back into the village and spent another hour wandering from garden to garden. On the South side of the village all the gardens seemed to have a stream running through or a babbling brook probably coming from the same source and occasionally disappearing underground in places. Most of the gardens had made a feature of the water like the picture below.
Out on the main street under the shade of the trees was a pottery stall run by two lovely ladies who belonged to a co-operative pottery studio.
This little bowl in particular caught my eye – I am told it is a bubble glaze – and you might now spot it on my dining room table!