The second day of April, and the last day of our Presteigne cottage holiday, we set off to nearby Hergest Croft Gardens. The 70 acre gardens, part of the Hergest Estate, lie on the England-Wales border in Herefordshire, not far from Kington. From the first moment you set foot in the place you know it will be a gardener’s treat at every turn. And how could it not be? Not only does it hold the national collections of maple and birch trees, it is also six gardens in one, created from the late 19th century, and home to over 5,000 rare trees and shrubs; every specimen mindfully placed and nurtured over the years by members of the Banks family, a dynasty of local lawyers-bankers-plants-men-and-women.
We’d hoped for sunshine, but the weather forecast lied. The day of our visit was overcast and, while the profusion of daffodils and magnolia cascades through the trees said ‘spring’, to this human it felt more like winter, the Arctic edge to the breeze lingering on and on, fingering into every exposed cranny. I was glad of my quilt-lined waterproof and woolly hat.
Here and there were signs of winter hanging on. In fact most of the deciduous shrubs and trees seemed to think so too; there was a general air of arboreal slumber, their hint-of-green looks (on closer inspection) often down to profuse colonies of lichens, which tells you something about the quality of the clear, fresh air up on Hergest Ridge.
In the end it didn’t matter if spring was slow to happen. The gardens were beautiful, and it somehow added to the pleasure of small finds: a clump of violets, some snake’s fritillaries, primroses, more daffodil and magnolia vistas, a maple just unfurling:
Of course all such visits to English gardens must include a tea room, and Hergest Croft has a very fine one with a suitably gracious terrace overlooking the lawns and parkland. The cakes were so delicious I forgot to take their photo (apologies cake lovers). I was anyway distracted by a burst of sunshine. That didn’t last long either.
But by four o’clock even pots of tea and slabs of coffee and lemon cakes could not fend off the gathering chill, and there was one final spot to visit before heading back to the car and the warmth of our Presteigne cottage.
The kitchen garden.
At first sight it was definitely still in winter mode, although the rhubarb was putting on a good spurt, the terracotta covers set out for forcing.
Then we found the orchard, an avenue of ancient apple trees, and beneath them an exuberant (if slightly mad) planting of bulbs and hellebores. I forgot about shivering and laughed. We’d been looking in the wrong place. Who said it wasn’t spring yet?
21 thoughts on “Spring Comes Softly at Hergest Croft”
Beautiful post Tish, both in images and narrative. We are also waiting for spring and an end to the rain.
Many thanks, Anne. There’s been so much rain in the UK too, hopefully abated. Now we just have the very cold air. Onwards and upwards to some warmer weather for both of us.
The kitchen garden is beautiful. What a lovely surprise. We visited in late September, if you want a different look.
I had a notion you’d done a post, Jude, and then forgot to look. So thank you for the link.
Did you ever visit Bryan’s Ground?
No. And I think you’ve mentioned this to me in the past. Must stick pin in brain to remind me to look into same.
Famous for irises, but I believe the place has changed hands and no longer open to the public. That might change of course.
I will keep an eye out. Thanks for the info. I love irises. The gentle scent of oris root.
This is really beautiful, Tish.
Thanks, Mak 🙂
Six gardens in one / such a lovely ola e to explore (and have tea and lemon cake / mmm)
And by the way – congrats on the move / I read your post in March – with the movers delayed by the snow and I wasn’t logged in to comment but enjoyed the post and felt a connection to the place (through your shared over the years) and so could really feel the move a bit with you !!
Hello, Yvette. Many thanks for those congrats. I rather feel we’ve earned them. It was v. stressful, the snow being only one factor. And now we’re setting ourselves up for a repeat by looking for a house to buy!
Hello Tish! Best wishes with the new house – and so goes the ebb and flow of life – which sometimes includes a new home
What a great visit you had, Tish, despite the rather gloomy weather. I like that you were upbeat, commenting that the less than perfect conditions “somehow added to the pleasure of small finds: a clump of violets, some snake’s fritillaries, primroses, more daffodil and magnolia vistas, a maple just unfurling… “ and that orchard!
Thank you for that lovely comment, Sue. The apple trees in the orchard were amazing. There was a really old one I didn’t show. It was so gnarly and covered in moss and lichen that it was hosting its own fern gardens all over the place. When the blossom comes out it will come ready ‘flower arranged’ with ferny extras.
My pleasure, Tish! The orchard rather seems to have been the star of the show
Now that would be a fun visit even without the sun beaming down. Really pretty place and tea/ coffee and cake. Perfect.
Such a beautiful and versatile garden, I bet you loved it all. Here too spring seem slow, only 11 degrees Celcius today with rain…and that on Easter day!
It does look rather lovely even in this poor weather, and I enjoyed all the flowers, especially the magnolias and those delicate pale primroses 😀 I also like the look of the sculpture on the lawn.
I’m sorry I forgot to make a note of who created that sculpture. Too busy nattering.