Saturday, 29 May 2010

Last Sunday at Hinton Admiral House

Every spring, for just a few days each year, the magnificent landscaped gardens of Hinton Admiral House, in Western Hampshire and on the edge of the New Forest, are opened to the public. Last Sunday, we walked in the afternoon through bluebell woods, beside lakes and into formal walled gardens.

In a leaflet given to each visitor, the house and estate is described:

"Hinton Admiral was built in 1720 and increased to its present size in 1790 after being badly damaged by fire in 1775. The gardens have been developing gradually, with contributions from designer Harold Peto around 1900. The present Sir George and Lady Meyrick have greatly restored the house and, more recently, the gardens."

We began our walk near the front of the house, where acres of bluebells were in flower. After a dry, sunny week, the flowers out in the open meadow were fading, but under the beech trees, newer blooms showed a fresh deep blue . The scent of bluebells filled the air.

This is the view along the beech avenue that can be seen from the front of Hinton Admiral House.

The house from the front. Formal lawns are bordered by a gravel drive wide enough for a carriage to have driven to the front door.

To the left of the main house, azaleas shone yellow and orange in the afternoon light.

Cream wisteria climbing over red brick walls .

Peonies in the walled Millenium Garden.

Herbs in the kitchen garden.

A fruit cage large enough to protect two cherry trees, as well as bush fruit, from the birds.

White Abutilon in the kitchen garden.

Lilies and other tender plants are grown and propagated in the Victorian glasshouses, which are heated by modern solar panels.

Looking from the arboretum, across wide meadows where a herd of fine Holstein Freisian cattle graze.

The young heifers rest at a respectful distance from the bull.

In the Arboretum, many interesting specimen trees have been collected over the centuries.

A young copper beech in new leaf.

New trees and shrubs are regularly added to the collection. This delicate wisteria is being trained into a tree habit.

A view through the trees towards the back of the house.

Golden carp sunbathing in the green lake.

Up into the branches of a Monkeypuzzle tree.

A cave in an oak tree.

Through the shaded bluebell wood and along a tree lined path to the estate church of St Michael and All Angels, which is also the parish church for the farms and houses in the Hinton area.

The red bricked church was built in Victorian times and has a distinctive peal of bells.

In the peaceful graveyard , landowners and rural workers rest together among shade and wild flowers.

An angel guards the grave of the previous Lord Meyrick and his wife.

Self heal and plantain bring bees to the grassy mound of an unmarked grave.

The pathway back to the garden.

We walked through azalea scented shade towards the edge of the still lake.

A stream drains away from the lake and is planted with streamside plants both native and exotic.

Rosemary in full flower.

Dicentra spectabilis and bluebells in a damp, mossy corner.

The Stumpery, where old tree stumps from the estate have been collected and arranged as a natural sculpture reminiscent of dinosaur bones.

The Handkerchief Tree, Davidia involucra, was in flower, with its white bracts around the flowers hanging in delicate contrast against the blue sky .

Approaching the side of the main house.

Along a shady pergola.

Views across garden and lake from the terrace at the rear of the house.

On our way home, we drove around the edge of the beech avenue and saw our last view of Hinton Admiral House across a haze of bluebells.