Tuesday, 10 June 2008

O to be in Herefordshire

We drove through Herefordshire yesterday morning, almost to the Welsh border near Presteigne. Then we returned a different way, with the evening sun over the Marcle Ridge. What a beautiful county it is! From the moment I near the end of the M50, coming down into the Wye Valley, my heart lifts.

Leaving the motorway, we took country lanes towards Weston-under-Penyard to visit Mr. and Mrs. Hughes's garden at Kingstone Cottages, which I had found in the Yellow Book. Though it didn't look very exciting from its entrance, we were rapidly captivated. Not least by the stunning vista Westwards towards Ross Church, with Garway Hill in the distance. The garden itself represents thirty years' labour of love. I took this photograph from the grotto, created by Michael Hughes. A narrow path leads down to the entrance: you think it leads nowhere. Eventually there's a tiny room, its walls lined with bottles and shells. Sitting on a stool, the window gives you a frog's eye view over a pond. An entirely secret place.

Monet's Garden at Giverny is the nearest thing I've seen to Kingstone; but we had this one all to ourselves. The National Collection of old pinks and carnations resides in a parterre - important, but really the least magical part of the garden for me.

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