Wednesday 7th May saw our small party of 20 or so gather at Newcastle Central Station for the start of our four day trip to Tewkesbury and surrounding area. It was a bit dull and overcast, but otherwise dry – unlike the days to come! Irene had organised a really exciting programme for us, which included two private gardens (Hillbark near Leeds and Dorset House in the West Midlands), three nurseries (Avondale, Hoo House and Harrells Hardy Plants), two stately homes (Hidcote and Wentworth Castle) and, of course, a day at the Malvern Spring Festival.
The entire trip was a delight, but for me the highlight was Dorset House. It was a beautiful garden, like all of the ones we visited, but the reason I liked it best was because it was behind a ‘normal’ detached house at the end of a small high street. The garden was bigger than mine (which isn’t hard), but not by very much, and they had divided it into sections so that we could easily see how we could apply their ideas to our own gardens.
I’d love to be able to tell you all about the Spring Festival (Princess Anne, Carol Klein, the show gardens and all the wonderful plants for sale), but I’m afraid that I spent most of the day in the tea tent with Jan and her friend Barbara, who we had met just by chance (it really is a small world). As tempting as the Show was, nothing can beat time spent in the company of good friends.
Having said that, by the end of the trip, we were all good friends, if only because we had together faced the worst an English Spring could throw at us: boy was it wet!