Although we were going to Pashley Manor to see the tulip festival, we abandoned the journey due to my sciatica playing up, and instead stopped by Herstmonceux Castle. We last visited in March, and much has changed in the gardens: the magnolias are finished, and most of the daffodils, and where before the Elizabethan border was looking a bit sparse, all the perennials are growing. Tulips are out, camellias and azaleas too, and it’s all very lush.
We meandered through the orchard and admired the apple blossom and the late narcissi and then through the woods which are awash with bluebells at the moment. Apparently you can tell the age of a woodland by its bluebell population.
The most fascinating inhabitants of the grounds at Herstmonceux are the ancient Sweet Chestnut trees, many of which are at least three hundred years old, some possibly centuries older than that. They are the original scary trees in fairytales with goblin faces – all huge, gnarly and misshapen. Some have big hollow spaces in their trunks. They are just magical. We wandered through this landscape and met nobody else – we were alone with the birdsong and the bees, dappled sunlight and bluebells at every vista.
Another feature of the gardens are the stunning redleaved acers (Japanese Maple)…
We also had fun exploring the Folly and its kitchen garden, and a new rope maze. The whole place is so peaceful and wonderful. We’re already looking forward to a return visit in high summer when all the borders will be heaving with flowers and the roses will no doubt be making a fantastic display.