A visit to the garden at Wyken Hall – August 2011

We went on a visit to the garden at Wyken Hall – not exactly a well-worn way, more a meander along grassy and brick paths.  It was so incredibly beautiful and full of character, I wanted to share the experience – it may inspire your creativity.  Maybe you’ll discover it here, tucked away.

Wyken Hall and its garden is a magical place and the map gives a feel of all there is to discover.  It reminds me of many novels including The Children at Green Knowe by LM Boston (based on The Manor at Hemingford Grey in Cambridgeshire) or the wonderful manor garden in Elizabeth Goudge’s novel The Rosemary Tree from which I offer some quotes, of partial accuracy and relevance. 

Look at the map and you’ll see what I mean. Artwork is by Julia Bickham.

‘He rounded the hill and saw the manor-house in front of him at the bottom of a sloping field.  He climbed upon the gate of the field and sat and stared.  It was a timber-framed house, small for a manor-house but quite perfect…’

The garden invites you in to explore.  There are half-open gates everywhere, gates you want to pause by and admire, gates inviting you in to a new space to wander and contemplate.

Some of the gates in courtyards are closed but they don’t feel like they’re keeping you out.  There is a feeling of warm welcome attached to every touch here, all has been conceived with attentive care.

The hares plastered on the house capture your attention.

Two majestic turkeys preside in statuesque stillness over their young.

Similarly there are two stone sheep with the real animals in the field beyond the fence.  And there are rare birds scuttling around the lawn in the orchard, where the trees are bursting with ripe fruit – a bumper year for apples and plums.

‘The other garden had had no frontier, it had enlarged itself to meet the fields and the river and to look to wide horizons, but this garden was warm and luxuriant within prescribed lines and its solidity had a most comfortable and comforting beauty.  Nothing could get in here, thought Michael.  The furies might visit the outer garden, but they would not get in here.The walls were covered with old fruit-trees, peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines and pears.  Beyond the kitchen garden he could see the tops of the apple-trees in the orchard, still with their winter beauty of old bare branches twisted into strange shapes that seemed to have language in them, some rune or other written against the parchment sky, full of wisdom if one had the wisdom to read it.  “But what the dickens does she do with all the fruit?” wondered Michael.  There was more of it in the kitchen garden…

‘…he began walking round the garden and found the vegetables, a jungle of cabbages, broccoli and spinach…There were traces of a herb-garden in one place, perhaps one of the Elizabethan knot-gardens, where the herbs were grown in the shape of fantastic knots….the air was rich and heavy with their scent.  Moss-grown paths, edged with miniature box hedges about a foot high, wandered in and out…’

It’s wandering through the garden rooms though that brings its own inner peace.  A patio with rocking chairs invites you to sit and meditate or read and ponder.  Ideas came to me here uninvited, making me realise how important and valuable it is to change your setting to open your mind – open it to what is already there but undetected, unsurfaced.

‘He surveyed the garden with amazement and delight.  There appeared to be no one about and he could stare as he pleased.’ 

He saw the small trim green lawns and beds…, the rose-garden with its standard rose-trees, like Tenniel’s illustrations in Alice in Wonderland, the hedges…bordering the paved court and the sundial.  For a moment, through the song of the lark, he could hear the bees humming….and semll and flowers and the scent of the new-mown grass drawn up by the neat of a summer sun.

And as we leave the garden we continue to discover small gestures that are perfectly wrought.  An unexpected pleasure on a beautiful summer’s afternoon, one that will linger casting its warmth in memory.

‘He turned and looked up at the device on the shield over the archway. ….He went back the way he had come.’

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2 Responses to A visit to the garden at Wyken Hall – August 2011

  1. Wyken Hall is lovely, and it’s nice to see that my garden map is still being used! Any chance of a credit where you’ve mentioned the map please – many thanks! Julia Bickham.

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