On Sunday Grayshott Gardeners met up with an old friend: Tom Hart Dyke, who last year visited us to talk about his plant-collecting adventures and the resulting World Garden project, stocked with non-native plants introduced to the UK by the great Victorian and Edwardian plant hunters.
A comfortable coach took us past lavender fields and via the adjacent Lullingstone Country Park to Lullingstone Castle, one of England’s oldest family estates dating back to Domesday times. The World Garden is situated in the midst of 120 acres of beautiful grounds, comprising a lake, vast lawns (great for picnics!), a stream meandering through woodland, a genuine, albeit ruined, bath house nearby, and wild flower and orchid meadows populated by dragonflies and butterflies.
Fortunately, exploring the continents proved much less arduous than Tom H-D’s real- world exploits, yet offered plenty of interest and excitement at the sight of the sheer variety of trees, shrubs and other plants (totalling more than 10,000!) not native to the UK. Most colour was found in the European borders, while amazing shapes, height and hues were more evident in the southern hemisphere. Some very prickly specimens seemed to come with in-built corks to stop visitors being spiked!
Appropriate sculptures denoted each major region: the Greek Goddess Europa, a totem pole, a cobra, Uluru (Ayers Rock) and a pineapple in Brazil. Tracks through thickets and a hidden stream with wild piglets appealed to the Livingstone in some of us, whilst others were happy to retreat to one of the strategically placed seats before continuing their global discoveries in the Cloud Garden and the Hot and Spiky House.
Several members found their way to the tea and cake marquee, some with purchased plants, before embarking on a guided tour of the originally Tudor Castle and a fascinating tale of the Hart-Dyke family and its many royal guests. The church with some original stained glass windows also proved well-worth a visit.
Not surprising then that some of us nodded off on the way home following this packed and interesting outing organised by Terry.
More information on the heritage and horticulture at Lullingstone Castle from www.lullingstonecastle.co.uk
Gordon Rae’s flower photographs are amazing: