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Author Topic: Colesbourne Park and other Snowdrop Gardens  (Read 21257 times)

KentGardener

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Colesbourne Park and other Snowdrop Gardens
« on: February 04, 2007, 12:58:39 PM »
Hi Everyone.

Yesterday the sun shone, temperatures reached 10 degrees and I was fortunate to be one of the passengers in a car en route to Gloucestershire.  We had to leave Kent at 5.30am to arrive at my aunts house in London for 6.30am – my uncle then very kindly acted as chauffeur for the following 14 hours.  Once the sun came up the skies were clear and blue – we did spot one cloud whilst travelling round the M25 motorway near Heathrow.  It was rather alarming as it resembled one of John Forrest’s disguised alien space ships….

Our first port of call in Gloucestershire was a visit to the garden of Phil Cornish.  When there was a mere 1.5 miles remaining of our 200 mile trip the fog descended – and that was the story for the next 3 hours.  Phil has been growing snowdrops for many years and in that time has discovered some wonderful new varieties.  He has definitely got a good eye for spotting the unusual and we came away with some of his finds (Octopussy, Gloucester Old Spot, and Bungee).  Mrs Cornish, too, is a lovely person who managed to keep the fogs freezing effects at bay with a generous supply of hot drinks and a vast selection of cakes and biscuits – there was even mention of her cooking a casserole if she had know that we would be there as long as we were.  Between them the Cornishs also have the best collection of snowdrop related items I have ever seen (ranging from tea sets and cutlery to paintings, jewellery.  There was even a walking stick with a beautifully carved Snowdrop as the handle).  Our quick stop at Phil’s turned into a very informative and most enjoyable 3 hours.
 
The next stop for us was the Colesbourne Estate, which opened its gates at 1pm for the start of their 5-week snowdrop season.  This was our first ever visit to Colesbourne so we didn’t really know what to expect.  The walk from the car park down to the main house is through light woodland with vast drifts of snowdrops - S Arnott, Lord Lieutenant, George Elwes and many others.  Further into the trees we found ourselves standing at the edge of a hill that dropped away to a beautiful blue lake.  The hill has been terraced with the path meandering down to the waters edge.  The banks of earth between the terraces have been utilised to perfection with large swathes of Galanthus wherever one looks that can be viewed with ease as a result of the steepness of the slope and the paths cut into the hill.

walking down from car park
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view of bank from lake walk
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another view of the bank
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the lake
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At the far end of the lake are steps cut into the incline that lead up to the main house.  This is where we discovered the real treat for anyone suffering from ‘white fever’.  We found many desirable snowdrops grown to perfection in borders at the base of walls, raised beds and planters.  Just when I thought that we must have seen everything we encountered an archway leading to what must surely be described as the largest collections of rare snowdrops we had ever seen.  I would guess this area is possibly an acre in size with banks and walls on all sides and many mature trees creating a very well protected garden.  In one corner is an old ice house that served the needs of the estate in times past.  Across the whole area is a network of wide paths meandering through the many beds of snowdrops, hellebores, ferns and cyclamen.  There were at least 100 different named snowdrops that were all clearly labelled and Dr John Grimshaw was even on hand to answer any questions.  This was my personal favorite part of our visit and I found this wonderful part of the estate to have a magical feeling of calm about it. 

the Two Johnies (John Grimshaw and John Finch)
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We finished the day off by returning to the house where a fair selection of rare snowdrops were available for sale.  Caroline Elwes herself was part of the team at the sales table to help and advise - I found myself buying a ‘Diggory’ and a ‘Lord Lieutenant’.   Whilst viewing the sales area we met a man that turned out to be Henry Elwes.  He said that he really enjoys seeing people enjoying the garden and that for the 8 years that Colesbourne have been opening its gardens to the public he had never known such a wonderfully sunny day.  A team of volunteers were supplying teas and a great selection of home baked cakes that were a most welcome respite at the end of what was a very enjoyable but rather tiring day.

Henry Elwes
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Our last view of Colesbourne before leaving - hopefully one day we shall get the chance to return.
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I hope some of you get the chance to visit Colesbourne and that the above review will help convince you to go.

cheers

John
« Last Edit: February 04, 2007, 08:16:47 PM by Maggi Young »
John

John passed away in 2017 - his posts remain here in tribute to his friendship and contribution to the forum.

Brian Ellis

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Re: Colesboune Park Snowdrop Gardens
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2007, 01:06:24 PM »
Wonderful report and fantastic pictures.  I shall have to go!  Well worth the long trip I am sure.  We went to Ashwood's last weekend and saw Diggory growing there, it's a stunner.

Thanks John

Brian

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Maggi Young

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Re: Colesboune Park Snowdrop Gardens
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2007, 01:52:03 PM »
Wonderful armchair travels for us to enjoy. Thank you, John for your report. It seems the white flowers are locally very plentiful at Colesbourne !
I am interested to hear, too, about your trip to the charming Cornish family and their garden. I have heard of G. 'Gloucester Old Spot' and I have seen a photo... it is just that the name tickles my fancy... I like pigs.  funny how there seemsto be a connection with pigs and snowies: at Cambo, pigs are used to grub up rough land for planting, Phil Cornish has his Gloucester old Spot,  even if only if snowie guise, perhaps, and there, in your last pic from Colesbourne, a wild boar (sculpture) sitting guard over the estate! Delightful!
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KentGardener

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Re: Colesboune Park Snowdrop Gardens
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2007, 03:57:40 PM »
Hi Maggi

it is interesting that you should pick up on the reference to Gloucester Old Spot pigs.  Whilst we were talking to Henry Elwes he was told us the story behind the pig statue.  If I remember correctly (which may not be the case as I was suffering from the white fever by this point) there were Gloucester Old Spots kept at Colesbourne when the latest Elwes took the estate on.  Caroline Elwes wanted to keep them but Henry thought otherwise.  In the end the pigs went but Caroline's last stand was to buy the bronze and have it sited looking down at the house.

John
« Last Edit: February 04, 2007, 07:26:19 PM by KentGardener »
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snowdropman

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Re: Colesbourne Park Snowdrop Gardens
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2007, 08:04:31 PM »
Hi John

So glad that you enjoyed your visit to Colesbourne - the walk around the grounds is quite something with those great rolling swathes of snowdrops (including what remains of the original clump of 'Carolyn Elwes' - I hope you saw it!) but then the garden with so many 'special' snowdrops - I told you that you would really enjoy this - unlike you with your lovely sunny weather, when I went around the grounds last year, it was pouring with snow but, with John Grimshaw to guide us, no less impressive.

I am going down for the two 'Snowdrop Study Days' in February - with the likes of Chris Brickell, Jorg Lebsa, Gert-Jan van der Kolk and Rod Leeds, they have probably the most impressive list of speakers of any snowdrop event this year & hold great promise.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2007, 08:32:08 PM by snowdropman »
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Re: Colesbourne Park Snowdrop Gardens
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2007, 08:05:08 PM »

Maggi-not sure if you want this post here and make it a "Snowdrop Garden" thread or whether you want to put it somewhere else.



A few pictures here of a visit we made today to East Lambrook Manor in South Somerset. East Lambrook is a cottage (though on the large side) style garden originally developed by Marjorie Fish in the 1950/60's. The pictures will be little different from those John Finch posted in two ways:- firstly that he can take photos whilst I just persevere (I'm told I am to artistic design what Rudolph Nuryev {spelling?} was to Rugby League); and secondly whilst John's setting was a significant estate you can walk across East Lambrook in less than 100 strides. Mark Smyth was lecturing at East Lambrook yesterday but I didn't see the brass plaque! :D


General View 1

General View 2

Marjorie Brown

Can't remember what it was!

Tubby Merlin


David Nicholson
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Re: Colesbourne Park and other Snowdrop Gardens
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2007, 08:25:15 PM »
Here will do nicely, David. Another charming garden, I like the "sunken" walk.
I can think of  ways in which Rude Old Nearenough the Bally Dangler might have been a great asset to rugby of any sort : not , for several reasons,that we are mentioning rugby here at the moment :(
Also, I was distracted by my mother in law at a crucial time and manged to forget to video record today's game for Ian. He is returned from a couple of days in/around Glasgow and no rugby to watch. :-[ :P

Can't think why no blue plaque for MS... someone must have pinched it!!
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hadacekf

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Re: Colesbourne Park and other Snowdrop Gardens
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2007, 08:33:44 PM »
John, I enjoyed your visit to Colesbourne very much.
Many thanks for sharing them with us!
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snowdropman

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Re: Colesbourne Park Snowdrop Gardens
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2007, 08:38:08 PM »

A few pictures here of a visit we made today to East Lambrook Manor in South Somerset.

Hi David

Hope that you enjoyed your visit - in recent years they have discovered some really exciting new snowdrops - the only shame is that they still do not have any of them on general sale, although James Coles (the Head Nurseryman) tells me that they are working on bulking up their stocks for sale in future years.
Chris Sanham
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Re: Colesbourne Park and other Snowdrop Gardens
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2007, 08:53:35 PM »
Chris, I enjoyed our visit very much, it is not the first time I had been to East Lambrook but we have always gone in the early Summer before-it is only about 1.5 hours journey time for us. Although it was by no means crowded there were quite a few people around but I don't think the "powers that be" made the best of their audience. There were one or two pots of G nivalis, and the odd pot of G elwesii for sale and precious little else. Had I been the Nurseryman I would have backed these up with plenty of pots of Iris reticulata varieties, some Crocus species and a few nice Hellebores-people do like to see a Garden and then buy something from it-well at least I do!

My other grouse was that although some snowdrops had name plates many didn't and were given just a code number- and there was nothing to help visitors to decipher the codes (of course this may be to deter people from pinching the rarer plants?)

Apart from that, oh and the Tea Shop had run out of Soup at 1315 (for God's sake on a thoroughly soup day!) and |I had to force cake down instead (Maggi and Lesley would have been proud of me!) it was a smashing day out
David Nicholson
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snowdropman

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Re: Colesbourne Park and other Snowdrop Gardens
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2007, 09:02:44 PM »
Hi David - glad to hear that you enjoyed the day - I am sure that the owner Marianne Williams would welcome your feedback on the day - I can let you have her email address if you want it.
Chris Sanham
West Sussex, UK

mark smyth

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Re: Colesbourne Park and other Snowdrop Gardens
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2007, 11:47:58 PM »
David what time were you are East Lambrook? I've been lodging in the house for the last two days. I left there at 11.45 to head for Colesbourne. We all should have arranged to meet
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Re: Colesbourne Park and other Snowdrop Gardens
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2007, 08:20:19 AM »
Thanks John and David for sharing these bits of "SnowdropEngland" with us !  Great show !


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Re: Colesbourne Park and other Snowdrop Gardens
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2007, 07:35:29 PM »
David what time were you are East Lambrook? I've been lodging in the house for the last two days. I left there at 11.45 to head for Colesbourne. We all should have arranged to meet

Mark,

We arrived about 1300 so you would have been about half-way to Colesbourne by then. Decisions about days out in the Nicholson household tend to be "made on the hoof"-we only decided to go to East Lambrook after breakfast on Sunday morning. It would have been nice to meet you though.
David Nicholson
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tonyg

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Re: Colesbourne Park and other Snowdrop Gardens
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2007, 07:52:37 PM »
John et al Great to see the gardens and the flowers.  BUT John you look so much younger in your avatar ;)  In the pic with JG you look like someone I have met at the shows!

 


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