It’s been a great day. Reminded about West Dean Gardens near Chichester in West Sussex (don’t you just love Facebook?) we drove over this morning. As we did so the fabulous Red Arrows RAF team were wheeling overhead with their colourful smoke trails. On verges and road footbridges crowds of people stood, looking skyward, with cameras raised, to capture the aeronautical acrobatics. It was all part of the Festival of Speed (see my last post). I remember the Red Arrows in my childhood, when on some of those hot summer days they would appear in the sky, colouring it as if with fat Crayola crayons. We looked up in awe.
The gardens at West Dean (surrounding the artsy West Dean College and home of surrealist collector Edward James) were glorious. And luckily, not that busy – we’d certainly timed our visit to give enough time to enjoy the outdoors before returning for the World Cup Final.
As with the Sussex Prairie Gardens, that I visited recently, I concentrated on the close ups with my camera. I did take longer vistas but they look very ordinary and didn’t really convey the beauty of these gardens.
The Victorian glass houses here are just fabulous – the hot colours of the begonias, the leafy beauty of the ferns, just have to be seen. I was reminded when looking at these, and the beautifully presented vegetable and cut flower beds, that these sights would have been familiar to so many ‘big houses’ before the First World War. In those days there were staff to tend and hoe, before that war decimated the labour supply and life as it was known.
I certainly took away ideas for the new garden that I am planning (watch this space) – the colour combinations, the planting choices. I just wish that I could have a river (OK, a stream) flowing through (great stone bridges). Great to have the space to show off two large sculptures, with their white smooth surfaces contrasting with the green foliage. Dipping toes into The Lavant, was just amazing given the on-going tropical temperatures, watching as a family of ducks paddled past! It’s not the same with a bowl of water is it?
Then it was home for cold beer, World Cup final football (I’m a casual observer – spent my time going through my photographs but liked the Croatian’s ‘checked’ football shirts), profiteroles with hot chocolate sauce (why not?). And a film to watch tonight……..relax!