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Houghton Lodge Hampshire

While down in Hampshire last September we enjoyed a day out exploring the grounds of Houghton Lodge an 19th century fishing lodge built in a style similar to the later Arts and Crafts style. It is a uniquely beautiful white building surrounded by sweeping striped lawns and fascinating grounds running down to the clear running River Test.

As we took a walk along the banks of a short stretch of the Test a lone trout fisherman cast his fly from the opposite bank hoping in vain for a fish to rise and take his fly. The water was so clear and the stringy water weeds flowed with the water over its stone and sand river bottom giving us the occasional fleeting glimpse of a brown trout.

We were fascinated to find two collections of plants in the walled garden, hostas and dahlias.

   

But there was far more of interest throughout the gardens here, so here are a few photos of other borders and garden cameos. This proved to be a great find!

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architecture buildings Church architecture the sea the seaside the shore townscapes

Hampshire Seaside – Lymington

Here is another post to remind us of warmer sunnier days. It is the story of the second seaside town we visited while in Hampshire earlier this year.

Holidaying in the New Forest gave us access to beautiful countryside, trees aplenty to give us autumn colours and just to please Jude, the Undergardener, proximity to the sea. We spent two afternoons at the seaside, the first at Lymington and the second at Milford on Sea. In this post we will share our day at Lymington.

We got lost getting to the car park  in the town centre but after skirting the coast we went all around Lymington and by luck ended up parking right next to the quay.It was a better place to enjoy the town from than where we had intended to park and to make it even more convenient as we got out of the car our noses caught the aroma of fresh coffee! Brilliant car park! The coffee house was a converted boat house with views across the quay.

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Once suitably refreshed and loaded with caffeine we wandered the old narrow streets close to the quay. We were taken by the amusing and original shop names and their signage.

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We left the old town and wandered along Quay Road which ran parallel to the estuary. The many old boathouses have been converted into homes, business premises and holiday accommodation.

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We passed several boat repair yards, marinas and boat builders. We were attracted to the sign of this boat builder, with its two letter B’s depicting yachts with wind-filled sails.

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Jude the Undergardener could not resist playing in this old fashioned seaside entertainment.

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Our walk took us away from the waterfront and back to the town’s main street, where we found buildings of different ages, old shops, churches and cinemas.

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After a stop for coffee and cakes we walked back through the old village with its cobbled streets and tiny shops.

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We had enjoyed our day by the sea even though we found no sandy beach to walk on or even shingle to crunch through.

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buildings colours photography the sea the seaside the shore

Hampshire Seaside – part two – Milford

To bring some sunshine to a very dull January let us turn the clock back and enjoy a visit to the Hampshire coast.

While in Hampshire we drove down through the New forest avoiding cattle, donkeys, pigs and ponies on the road and down to Milford on Sea.

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Just like Lymington this small seaside town overlooked the famous stretch of water, the Solent and beyond the Solent we had views of the Isle of Wight. Frequent ferries trundled passengers and vehicles over to the island and back. The Solent as expected was busy with yachts and launches.

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The cliffs here defied any sense of scale. In the photos below the cliffs look as tall as any along the south coast, but in reality were merely 12 ft or so in height.

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Whenever we visit the sea we look out for beach huts as they are so colourful, so full of character and a close look reveals interesting details of colour and texture. So we were delighted to come cross a small street of them at the end of our beach promenade.

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As usual when we find them my camera worked hard to capture their spirit. I hope you enjoy my little gallery dedicated to them. As usual click on the first pic and then navigate with the arrows.

 

 

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autumn autumn colours community gardening garden furniture garden seating gardening gardens gardens open to the public hardy perennials light light quality ornamental trees and shrubs shrubs trees

Furzey Gardens – a wonderful gardening community – Part Two

Back at Furzey Gardens we continued to wander along its magical paths seeking out secret places and reveling in its beautiful plants. Beyond each corner more beauty was revealed  and the depth of its calmness and peace increased. Furzey Gardens takes hold of its visitors and admirers. Throughout the garden volunteers and clients work together, laugh together and learn together. The trust here is set up to help adults with learning difficulties gain new skills, social and horticultural and develop a sense of self esteem and confidence. This results in everyone at Furzey having great pride in what they are doing and a deep level of satisfaction.

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A graceful stand of Birches with the white umbels of Cow Parsley scattered at their feet felt as full of  calm and contentment as any place could possibly feel.

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The rust colours of autumn trees matched the seeds of Primula close by.

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The colours, tints and shades of Autumn can make ordinary places look special but it can also make special places look exceptionally beautiful. Just as we discovered here at Furzey.

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Homes for everything can be found at Furzey. As well as homes for fairies we found homes for hay bales and homes for birds.

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The hedges along the edge of the gardens were full of fruit ready for the invasion of winter migrating thrushes and our resident Blackbirds and Thrushes.

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Enjoy our wanderings back to the cafe where we refreshed ourselves before journeying back to out hotel.

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Among shrubs and trees we discovered a building which hid a secret place for sky viewing.

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I thought I would drop in a couple of pics of herbaceous flowers to show that there was a lot more to Furzey than shrubs and trees.

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I promised to share with you more of those Fairy and Insect Doors secreted around Furzey.

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Our tour of the gardens at Furzey finished as we explored the 16th Century Forest Cottage, beautifully renovated and re-furnished in simple elegance. It sat in a garden of equal character and an accurate portrayal of its period.

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autumn autumn colours community gardening garden buildings garden design garden furniture garden photography garden ponds garden pools garden seating gardening gardens gardens open to the public light light quality memorials ornamental trees and shrubs trees

Furzey Gardens – a wonderful gardening community – Part One

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.

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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.

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The views from the table at which we enjoyed our coffee and cakes were certainly very encouraging. We set off with high expectations!

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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!

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We found more beautiful hand made furniture throughout the gardens.

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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.

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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.”

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We moved on and the low autumn sunshine lit up the foliage all around like a massive stained glass window.

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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.

 

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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.

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Throughout the walkways there were secret places for children to discover, “Fairy Houses” hidden low down and camouflaged.

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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.

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autumn forests photography trees woodland woodlands

Textures of the New Forest

Autumn is a great time for noticing the many different textures all around us. The bright low sunlight emphasises changes in light and shade hence enhancing the textural qualities in the woods and heaths of the New forest.

I hope you enjoy my gallery of photos of the many and varied textures we spotted on our walk. Just click on the first picture and use the arrow to navigate through.

 

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Walking the New Forest – part two

We will continue our walk where we left off at the end of part one of “Walking the New Forest”.

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We left the old Oak behind crossed a clearing and followed a pathway through Beech trees as we aimed for an old wooden gate.

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The gateway afforded us views of an open area with few trees and most of those were now of Birch, our native Betula pendula.

Ferns within the wooded area tended to be the Hard Fern variety but once out in the more open and much drier heathland the main ferns were our common Bracken. The Bracken was showing signs of changing into its autumn coat but the Hard Fern is an evergreen and keeps its leathery deep green coloured fronds.

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We took an indistinct path which led us diagonally towards a little wooden bridge which enabled us to cross a ditch. As we crossed wet muddy patches we found signs of life, bicycle tracks left by previous human visitors and prints of deer

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Crossing the footbridge we aimed for a distant stand of brightly coloured Silver Birches.

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Leaving the heathland behind we crossed over a gravel track that led to a forestry worker’s house and entered a new inclosure of forest. The trees here started off as a selection of mixed deciduous native trees, but before too long conifers crept in. Slowly these dark pines took over completely and we found ourselves walking in dark woodland. Little grew beneath these trees as they blocked out the sunlight. The fresh smell of our native broadleaves was replaced by a resinous aroma reminiscent of pine household cleaners. Less inviting a smell than the warming and welcome scents of our native broadleaves.

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The path we were following suddenly met a crossroads where a clearing allowed more light through to reach us and the forest floor. Foxgloves appeared both as first year rosettes of leaves preparing to flower next year and as seed heads, the remains of this years flowers and the promise of more Foxgloves to come.

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We looked up from the bench where we sat enjoying our coffee break and noticed the bright leaves of Sweet Chestnuts and beneath them we discovered their nuts, nut cases and fallen leaves. We were entertained by the loud noise of rutting stags roaring through trees and the gentler sounds of the diminutive Goldcrests high in the branches of the conifers.

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The final leg of our walk took us along forestry tracks through the conifers and then back into the brighter world of native deciduous trees.

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Just before finding the car park we passed alongside a line of huge conifers blown down in strong winds, a line of destruction.

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We really enjoyed our first experience of the world of the New Forest. We had plenty more planned for our break.

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autumn autumn colours colours countryside landscapes light light quality outdoor sculpture photography trees wildlife woodland woodlands

Walking in the New Forest – part one

We decided we would take an Autumn break so went down to the New Forest for a short mid-week break. We loaded the car with coats, waterproofs and warm clothes thinking we were planning for whatever the weather had in store for us. We got it totally wrong for as we went further southward the weather improved and we ended up enjoying warm sunny weather. A real treat!

We have driven through or past the New Forest, Britain’s smallest National Park, several times and vowed we would holiday there some day. So as we arrived we had great expectations and we were not to be disappointed.

The New Forest proved to present the unexpected. Traffic jams and delays were not caused by vehicles but by livestock, cattle, pigs, donkeys and of course the famous New Forest Ponies. So here are a few shots of the many critters we encountered as we drove around the forest.

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Our first day excursion was to a Forestry Commission area of woods and heathland with way-marked walks winding through it.

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We set off firstly in search of the Knightwood Oak the oldest oak in the New Forest which reached maturity during the reign of Henry VIII. We followed the posts marking the way, rather beautiful way markers carved in wood.

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Among the hundreds of oak trees here we passed two other significant oaks on the way, celebrating important moments in the forest’s history. Firstly the Queen’s Oak was planted by Queen Elizabeth II to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the founding of the forest by William I in 1079. Secondly the Deputy Surveyor’s Oak planted to mark the contribution of a former Deputy Surveyor of the forest, Donn Small. The second oak was planted as a sapling from the Knightwood Oak itself. The ancient oak itself was surrounded by a chestnut paling fence to keep the public away from falling branches and to prevent the public from getting too close to the tree.

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Although this was a forest of mature trees there were signs of regeneration throughout, little saplings of all the main species of trees, so its future looks secure.

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At the other end of the age scale we were pleased to see that dead and dying trees were being left for the benefit of wildlife, insects, birds and of course the many fungi that live in woodlands breaking down and decomposing dead wood.

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In my next post about the New Forest we will continue walking this walk deeper into the woodland and across heathland until we found our way back to the car park.

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Harold Hillier in Hampshire – Part 3

The third and final part of this series of posts celebrating our summer visit to the Harold Hillier Gardens in Hampshire features their wonderful collection of Cornus chinensis, a family of small trees. We were amazed by this collection as we had not realised just how many there were and how varied their bracts were in colour and form.

Please enjoy this gallery celebrating the Cornus collection, which finishes this little series of posts about the Harold Hillier Gardens.

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Harold Hillier in Hampshire – Part 2

So here we are back in Hampshire and still wandering around the miles of paths along which we explored the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens.

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The Acer Grove was full of colour when the sun hit the foliage after the dullness of the rains.

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The Pinetum was a wonderful place to explore the many shapes of the trees and the texture and colour of their needles. Cones added even more interest. Not a great lover of conifers I felt myself enjoying being among their rich variety.

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But the broadleaved trees were my stars of the gardens with their colourful bark, flowers and the leaves.

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Jude was easily distracted by this wonderfully sculptural swing!

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We continued to discover a huge variety of sculptural pieces along every path and around every corner.

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But there was so much more than trees and sculpture to enjoy at these amazing gardens – we found so many interesting colourful flowering plants too.

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I will finish part two of our visit to the Harold Hillier Gardens with these photos of an amazing archway over a path and a beautifully coloured and shaped pot.

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