One advantage of having a musical daughter is that her concerts give us the perfect excuse to leave the island. And so it was on Friday. With the concert not due to start until 7pm, we were on the 11am ferry with plans for a day out. Our destination, Hinton Ampner, a National Trust property in Hampshire.
The property seems a little unlucky – it was rebuilt in the 1960s after fire destroyed the original, and has suffered further damage this year when, on February 14th, a storm took the roof off. The ground floor of the house has only just reopened, but the first floor remains closed and repairs are ongoing.
We’d visited previously in June, a couple of years earlier, but it had been chilly and I hadn’t been overly impressed. On Friday, although blustery, the clouds were friendly and the garden had plenty to recommend it.
The house faces south, and has fabulous views over the South DownsBeyond the wall to the left of the photo above, is a formal area, with really effective massed dahlia planting. I’m not sure which one it was, but I assume from the leaf colour it was one of the Bishop series.
Further west from here, less formal planting included this lovely combination of Salvia darcyi together with a silver shrub. I thought it might be an Eleagnus but it has a very dainty leaf. The photo doesn’t show it, but both were over 5ft tall!
To the eastern end of the dahlia beds was a much more informal area with rather uninspiring planting (plenty of buddleia), but I did come across this fabulous shrub. And clues?
From here, we wandered on to the kitchen garden which was entered via this stunning gateway:
The kitchen garden was really striking, certainly not just vegetables
but flowers for cutting and some ancient espaliered apples and pears.
There were plenty of quotes from ‘old girls’ who’d been evacuated to Hinton Ampner, but one of the most striking comments related to the fact that they were still sufficiently close that they could hear the bombs falling on Portsmouth, which of course, for many of the girls, was where their parents were still living.
From sobering thoughts of evacuated, fearful girls, we make a quick visit to beautiful Winchester and stumbled across the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition which just happened to be showing. I love this exhibition and for years visited it at the Natural History museum and so was delighted to see it on Friday.
So, up until this point, largely harmony, and it certainly continued that way during the wonderful concert. So where was the disharmony? Well, try leaving the concert on a melodious high, and then finding the A31 closed for roadworks and consequently missing the 23.45 ferry home. And the next ferry? 04.15.
I really am too old to be sleeping in a car.