This is the home of the “Naked Gardeners” and they regularly hold “clothes optional days” which are the best attended of all! Our visit did not coincide with one of these days – just as well as it would probably have been very difficult to take any photos of the plants! We arrived shortly after opening and spent the next couple of hours wandering through a series of rooms and admiring the planting. The gardens have been constructed in part of what was the original abbey and from nearly everywhere in the garden you can catch a glimpse of the old stonework of one of the broken arches of the abbey.
As you enter the main part of the garden the first thing you see is a topiary face, the first example of a topiary face I had ever seen.
One of the beds (the serpentine bed) had been planted with 2000 roses apparently following the colours of the rainbow but some of them had not flowered in the colours they were supposed to but they had been left anyway.
mixed in with the roses were alstromeria, verbascum, geraniums and hollyhocks
There were a number of other sculptures scattered throughout the garden celebrating the human body.
This naked man with chains round his wrists was un-named
as was this one
I call this one “Mushroom Head”
In front of the naked man was another sculpture, this time incorporating water. As the water trickled down over the metal disks it emitted a delightful tinkling musical sound, the perfect accompaniment to the garden
All the borders were a mass of colour
a delicate red clematis
tiger lilies against the backdrop of a smoke tree
A huge circular herb garden was surrounded by a sort of trellised cloister over which climbed espaliered fruit trees, vines and clematis. The owners apparently designed this and built it with raised beds as described in a 9th century poem “Hortulus” (Little Garden) written by Walafrid Strabo.
lavenders in a raised bed in the herb garden
Several silver balls floated on the surface and visitors were invited to roll these along the surface of the water (not to throw them as this would frighten the fish) and the fish appeared to enjoy floating up to the surface and nosing at the balls.
carving above the main internal doorway It had some fine stained glass windows,
this one was designed by the artist Burne Jones, which commemorates a young serviceman killed in combat.
There was also another one which I only found out about later (and therefore missed seeing) of a young monk called Eilmer who apparently constructed himself a pair of wings and flew some 200m from the roof of the abbey in the 11th century.
After lunching in a nearby pub called “the Whole Hog” whose walls were decorated with paintings of pigs in assorted shapes and sizes, we returned to the car via the garden, spotting this carved lintel en route.
We had intended visiting the wilder part of the garden and the woodland walk but somehow missed our way.
view of the river garden from the bridge near the car park
and found ourselves back at the car park where we witnessed an angry swan seeing off a dog that came too close to its cygnets on the grass near the river.