A bright sunny Sunday in October, eager to get out in the air, we took ourselves off to Lanhydrock House, barely half an hour’s drive away. I’d not heard of Lanhydrock before we moved here but I quickly learned it has vast estates with plenty of paths for walking (and cycling). An exploratory stroll seemed in order.
Such a lovely sight as we headed down towards the house! The gatehouse, with its crenellations and pinnacles …
… the low wall around the formal gardens…
… the tightly clipped yew trees and the gaudy parterre, which I failed to photograph but which you can just see here from behind:
It made me think instantly of Alice in Wonderland! Off with their heads!
It all seemed a bit surreal. Delightful, but slightly bonkers!
I found myself thinking of flamingoes and croquet lawns!
The house, behind the formal garden, seemed to pale into insignificance; I was more aware of the family church, rising just behind, than I was of the house.
(This is not my photo, needless to say, but it is Lanhydrock in autumn. The trees were not so far advanced in their colour during our visit and the parterres have been cleared of summer colour in this photo but it gives a flavour.)
To be fair, I had already decided we would save the house for a less than perfect autumn day: the weather was far too good to be inside on this occasion. Instead we wandered around parts of the garden, enjoying the first colours of autumn against a magnificent blue sky. My photography skills were not up to speed today: my trusty point and shoot could not compete with the strength of the low-lying sun. But the Alice-in-Wonderland garden certainly made me smile.
Strolling around the side behind the house, we wondered at the family church…
… and the humped graves around it. There’s always such history in graveyards. What stories must lie here from centuries past.
There were some wonderful autumnal plantings.
At Lanhydrock, the spent heads of astilbes have been left untouched. Planted in drifts, they looked beautiful – the feathery, faded heads perhaps more natural and evocative than when they sported their full range of pastel and gaudy pinks, reds and purples.
We also enjoyed some more traditional herbaceous plantings, which were mostly set out in geometrical curving beds with a helpful plan of what was where. I rather enjoyed these more intricately-patterned flower beds – though the only reasonable photos I managed appear to be of the few straight borders!
I was especially pleased to see this particular combination (poorly captured I’m sad to say): pink nerines (Cornish lilies) and dark red astrantias. I have been trying to grow this combination at home! The astrantia has done well this summer; the nerines…. The less said the better at the moment, but maybe next year.
Bernie would probably disagree when I say that we didn’t really take a walk on this trip. Yes, we walked to and from the car park; we wandered around the gardens and we strolled along what must once have been the main drive to the house. And of course we sampled the restaurant (very nice). I would have liked a proper walk – down to the banks of the Fowey perhaps, where we might one day see a kingfisher or two – or even the White Rabbit looking for the croquet lawn!
On this occasion we did little more than a languid stroll. We did enjoy the company of a bold and inquisitive robin in the herbaceous gardens, who sang beautifully and popped up all over the place. (B is convinced it was the same robin each time.) And we certainly got our bearings.
Next time, perhaps the river. And definitely, the house! Mostly rebuilt after a fire in 1881, part of its Jacobean heritage remains, but it’s primarily Victorian and the vast majority of its 50 rooms are open to the public. The photos I’ve seen are enticing, as is the family history, for the house had been in the same family for centuries before passing to the National Trust. I’m looking forward to the next visit already!