Driving north through Yorkshire yesterday morning, things looked ominous. Southbound cars had their headlights on and the sky ahead of us was dark. Having come this far though, it seemed churlish to turn around and head back to Surrey and my faith in the weather gods was rewarded as we passed the Angel of the North and headed west up the Tyne Valley. Patches of blue, enough to make a City player a pair of shorts, were breaking through and by the time we reached our destination it was almost like a summer’s day.
The North East group were holding their Summer Party in the village of Wylam, birthplace of George Stephenson, as guests of Veronica and Neil Goulty. We arrived with our contribution to the feast, a cake, naturally, and were immediately drawn to the view down the garden and across the valley.
Off to explore the delights of the garden. Across the croquet lawn where Zephie the boxer was either a handicap or an asset depending on which side you were on.
Through the woodland glade, by now dancing with shadows in the sunlight.
To the view of the orchard from the top of the hill.
And the maze mown into the meadow, inspired by Veronica’s maze at Parham Park, near Pulborough in West Sussex, which was based on the 16th century embroidery on the Great Bed in the house and created in 1991 as part of the celebrations for the Year of the Maze.
As well as enjoying the garden, everyone was catching up with news, comparing garden successes and ‘experiments’, and making plans for next growing season. Lord Howick is President of the NE group and I heard about his imminent plans for a plant hunting trip in California. As part of the National AGM last year we visited Howick Hall Gardens and I could visualise the valley glade where he hopes to add some new specimens.
We left the party to go on up into Northumberland to return some Sedum plants to Ray Stevenson, borrowed for the Hampton Court Palace Flower show. I have promised the recipe for the chocolate cake to Veronica’s mother, so when I get back to Guildford I will do a ‘cake post’. And if the person who made the Cheese, Olive and Anchovy Empanadillas would like to share the recipe I would be delighted.