Jude, The Undergardener, and I always love visiting community gardens to see what is going on. As we are Chairman and Secretary of a community garden, Bowbrook Allotment Community, we always appreciate everything our fellow community gardeners are achieving.
When in Hampshire we discovered that we were close to Furzey Gardens, run as a charitable trust and a very special community garden indeed, described as “A haven of peace and tranquility in the heart of the New Forest.”
We discovered this 10 acre garden created within woodland around a 16th Century forest cottage. It is a partnership between Furzey Gardens and the Minstead Training Trust. To find out more check out their respective websites, http://www.furzey-gardens.org and http://www.minsteadtt.org .
We arrived at their car park where our progress into the car park was hindered by wandering pigs belonging to local commoners taking advantage of their “rights of pannage”. The signage looked promising. We soon came across a photograph of some of the garden’s volunteers and a shed where produce was sold.
And once inside we discovered a lovely cafe and gallery run by some of the trust’s volunteers. This was to set the scene for the whole visit.
The views from the table at which we enjoyed our coffee and cakes were certainly very encouraging. We set off with high expectations!
We noticed within the outside seating area this huge table carved by a local wood sculptor from the trunk of a tree. It was hard to see how this was possible. But possible it was! In the picnic area we found another!
We found more beautiful hand made furniture throughout the gardens.
We soon discovered that this was a garden sporting some beautiful specimen trees and shrubs which in early autumn were performing a colourful show. The volunteers maintained the gardens and individual specimens to a very high standard. Above all a sense of peace pervaded every space and the volunteers we saw working looked full of contentment and displayed a great pride in their work.
We loved this sign which faced us as we followed our pathway through the garden.
“We love children but we also love plants!
Many of the plants at Furzey are old, rare and fragile.
So please don’t climb our trees or trample on the flowers.
Feel free to hop and skip along the paths
And follow the secret places map.”
We moved on and the low autumn sunshine lit up the foliage all around like a massive stained glass window.
We enjoyed having so much choice when it came to sitting resting and taking in the beauty of Furzey. Many benches were memorials of volunteers, clients and visitors who simply enjoyed the special nature of this place.
After a break for tea and yet more cake we set off through the shrubs and trees to find the lake, a lake whose surface was cluttered with water lily leaves and its moist margins decorated by big-leaved plants and umbel seed heads.
Throughout the walkways there were secret places for children to discover, “Fairy Houses” hidden low down and camouflaged.
We shall find more of these little magic places in part two of our visit to Furzey, but I shall finish this first part by sharing with you one of the many thatched rustic garden buildings scattered throughout the gardens. The use of coloured glass leaves added magical light effects.