Tag Archives: Quercus Suber

Osborne House revisited


Some of you may remember my previous visit to Queen Victoria’s summer residence, Osborne House, in March when there was plenty to see despite it being early in the year.  More importantly, there was plenty of promise to draw me back, so, on Saturday, back I went.

It really was the most glorious day and the walled garden was completely transformed from spring time.  Not only were the agapanthus stupendousIMG_8128

and the greenhouses groaning with potsIMG_8126

but what I’d really come to see were the annuals.

Remember this?IMG_6150

Well it became this:IMG_8136

Huge drifts of white Antirrhinum, Cosmos Purity, Molucella laevis, Ammi majus and white sweet peas.  Wow.

And in the opposite corner, a more colourful mixIMG_8120

of Cosmos, Echium vulgare Blue BedderIMG_8122

and Larkspur ‘Fancy Purple Picotee’.IMG_8123

Out of the walled garden walking north towards the house, I came across this magnificent cork oak, Quercus SuberIMG_8143

and look who planted it.IMG_8144

Round the house to the north side is the extensive terrace.  Here the planting was even bolder and the colours really sang on such a glorious day.IMG_8153




Happily this time the Solent was much more visible than in March, so we decided to walk down to Queen Victoria’s beach for a closer look, taking in more agapanthus and pots on our way…


On the way I noticed this bench I’d never spotted before:IMG_8186

Did you ever see the fabulous film ‘Mrs Brown’ with Judi Dench and Billy Connolly?  It was all about the relationship between John Brown and Queen Victoria after the death of Albert.  A lovely film, beautifully acted.

So to the beach and Queen Victoria’s bathing hut.  These huts were wheeled down to the water in the Victorian period so that the ladies could bathe without the indignity of having to wander down the beach in their (near) altogether.  Sounds pretty appealing to me, particularly if the beach is pebbly!IMG_8169

And here is the beach she swam from, looking particularly pretty with numerous yachts on the Solent sailing on the first day of the Cowes Week regatta.

I have to confess there was also a deckchair and an ice cream involved in my enjoyment of this view.IMG_8171


Arundel Castle – after the party’s over?


Having read an article about Arundel Castle’s 15,000 tulips in April’s English Garden magazine, I was keen to see them for myself.  And on Monday 20th April, on the way to taking my daughter back to college, I arrived for the show, only to discover the castle doesn’t open on Mondays -doh!   Instead, we went to Brighton shopping, and I was hoodwinked into buying a pair of expensive sparkly sandals for her Leavers’ Ball.  I know where I’d rather have been.

Fast forward nearly three weeks and we were passing that way once more, so I tried again and here is the result.  Sadly the skies were grey throughout, and most of the time it was drizzling (evidenced by droplets on some of the photos, sorry) but I’m still delighted we went.

Although we’d been before in high summer, what struck me this time was how the structures, both the castle, the chapel and even Arundel Cathedral (outside the castle grounds), form an extraordinary, unique backdrop to the planting.


A relatively new  area of the garden, the Collector Earl’s Garden, has been designed by Isobel and Julian Bannerman, and has been conceived as a Jacobean formal garden.  It includes a domed pergola and fountains made out of green oak, which have already weathered significantly since our previous visit.

The centrepiece is the rockwork ‘mountain’ planted with palms and rare ferns to represent another world, supporting a green oak version of ‘Oberon’s Palace’, which contains a shell-lined interior with a stalagmite fountain and gilded coronet ‘dancing’ on top of the jet.



Whilst sadly some of the tulips were past their best (and doubtless would have been in their prime three weeks earlier), there was still plenty to enjoy, and it was of course, a completely different visit to the previous one last June.IMG_7094





Before leaving the main garden area we admired this glorious stumpery.  The ancient tree stumps are from the Norfolk Estate, and were looking magnificent with the fresh green planting.  IMG_7110

Walking between the Collector Earl’s Garden and the white garden, we came across this magnificent cork oak, Quercus Suber.IMG_7135

We arrived at the white garden, adjacent to the Fitzalan Chapel, at nearly closing time and a volunteer was keen to ensure we didn’t miss visiting the chapel.  However, his exhortation that there were some ‘very interesting tombs’ couldn’t quite persuade me away from the glorious white planting outside…




The tulips will be followed by ‘over fourteen varieties’ of Alliums, and then, later still in the season, numerous Agapanthus.  It’s a glorious garden, with spectacular, ancient structures and skilled planting.  I’m looking forward to returning.IMG_7127