Sunday, 19 August 2012

Levens Hall

The weather forecast was for sunshine and showers - good enough. Off we set for Levens Hall, arriving just after 11 under grey skies. The house doesn't open until 12, so after a quick coffee from the flask, we headed into the gardens.

On the way we passed one of several heart motifs that we came across during our visit. Legend has it that Levens was won on the turn of an ace of hearts so you can see how this might be a popular symbol with the family!

Levens Hall is famous for its topiary and it's the first thing you notice as you step through the garden gate. Isn't the acid green of this pyramid amazing against the darker greens of the yew and the purple of the flowers?

I preferred the use of geometric and organic shapes for the topiary rather than animals.

Well, except for this patriotic little fellow who we fell in love with. We couldn't contain our delight when we rounded a corner and there he was in front of us!

We also fell in love with the planting in the rose garden with the contrast of the cottage-garden flowers against the sculptural shapes of the topiary.

These old-fashioned roses smelled wonderful. We wandered around sniffing as many as we could in between dodging the showers and sheltering under the trees.

You're really spoiled for choice for colourful planting schemes. I particularly liked the bold colours in the 'hot' beds.

And beautiful vistas in every direction. The garden is separated into different 'rooms', each with a different feel. I'm a sucker for flowers but this water garden was simple, calm and serene.

After a tour of the gardens it was time for dinner. The weather had improved so we sat at a picnic bench in the shade of a tree. Cheese and ham roll, pea soup, crisps and an apple.

By the time we'd eaten, the house had opened. No photography in the house so you'll have to take my word for it that it's worth a visit. I think I've mentioned before that me and Chickpea like older properties so, with its Elizabethan origins, this one didn't disappoint. It has a lovely feel - beautiful plaster ceilings, wood panelling, squeaky floorboards.

One of the highlights for me as a quilter was the 1708 quilt which has incredibly fine stitching. My Dad would have been interested in the wooden bowl which is reputed to have been used by Sir Francis Drake in the famous game at Plymouth as the Armada approached.

After the tour of the house we went back around the garden to experience it in the sunshine. At times the topiary reminded me of Alice in Wonderland.

I have no idea what this plant is but the colour and shape of the flowers was fascinating.

The warmth of the sunshine carried the scent of the sweet peas and enticed you down the path. In this area, vegetables were intermingled with flowers. All along the path were courgette plants - we struggle to keep up with the number produced by our one plant so goodness knows what they do with the amount produced by all of these!

Eventually it was time to go and we left reluctantly. I enjoyed the visit to the house but it's the gardens which linger in my memory and for which it's justifiably famous. I've seen photos taken at different times of the year and it must be beautiful with the spring bulbs.

Above all, it was a pleasure just to be out in the countryside enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. Let's hope we get more for the rest of our planned day trips.

1 comment:

  1. I am enjoying all your tours of houses and gardens. As an American, these are always difficult for me to visualize from books alone, because we don't really have them over here so much. If you like topiaries, there is a very enjoyable documentary about a man who loves making them. It's called "A Man Called Pearl" .