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A winter wander at Batemans

It's at this time of year I feel the need to get out to a few local gardens and discover their stripped back winter beauty, and the promise of spring. At Batemans the structure of the yew hedges that frame the views remain year round, protecting the seemingly fragile beauty and naked wood of trees and climbers that fill the garden with colour and scent in warmer months. It feels a bit special being here in winter, with the house and gardens almost deserted, apart from a few hardy and cherished volunteers.

You enter from the 'top' of the property into the kitchen garden, here the orchard is waiting, splendid in its structural simplicity, and covered in lichen. I never seen so much in an orchard before, an amazing and very slow growing organism, this impressive collection must have taken many many years to grow and is truely beautiful in the winter sunlight and does no damage to the trees. In fact Lichens don't have roots that absorb water and nutrients like in plants, instead they produce their own food from sunlight, air, water, and minerals in their environment.

And so, back to Batemans... This garden has a wonderful feeling of serenity. Formal yew hedges give structure and journey, none of which is lost in the winter, each area offering a different sence of place, there's a wonderful balance of feeling enclosed and comforted, whilst the wider landscape and view is teasingly offered beyond the formality, with the use of gates and pathways providing a sence of easy escape and connection.

To the back of the house, the feeling of relaxed formality continues with two stunning rows of very mature pleached lime trees framing the lawn and seperating the space from the formal pond. These stunning pleached trees, which we tend to think of as an intrinsic part of modern design, have been here for 100 years or more, as can be seen in a painting of the garden in the 1920's thats hanging in the house . This great technique of creating seperation of space in the garden can be achieved relatively easily at home, for more advise from the RHS click here.

On the upper lawn, the magnificent magnolia souliangea stands getting ready to put on the most amazing display, its furry little parcels full of promise, quite brethtaking against the sky, Im definatley going to try to revisit in a few weeks to see it full flower. A slow growing aristocrat of the garden, I was once told 'you plant a magnolia for your grandchildren to enjoy'!

The formal pond provides peace and rest, particulaly when tucked in to the yew nook at the end, snuggled out of the wind in the winter sun, bliss, I might stay a while.... here i could...

'wait and not be tired of waiting' - If, Rudyard Kipling

Well worth a visit at any time of year - this is the first year that Batemans has been open in the winter.

Batemans, home of Rudyard Kipling, at Burwash, East Sussex

The Glory of the Garden by Rudyard Kipling

OUR England is a garden that is full of stately views, Of borders, beds and shrubberies and lawns and avenues, With statues on the terraces and peacocks strutting by; But the Glory of the Garden lies in more than meets the eye. For where the old thick laurels grow, along the thin red wall, You’ll find the tool- and potting-sheds which are the heart of all, The cold-frames and the hot-houses, the dungpits and the tanks, The rollers, carts and drain-pipes, with the barrows and the planks. And there you’ll see the gardeners, the men and ’Prentice boys Told off to do as they are bid and do it without noise; For, except when seeds are planted and we shout to scare the birds, The Glory of the Garden it abideth not in words. And some can pot begonias and some can bud a rose, And some are hardly fit to trust with anything that grows; But they can roll and trim the lawns and sift the sand and loam, For the Glory of the Garden occupieth all who come. Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made By singing:—“Oh, how beautiful!” and sitting in the shade, While better men than we go out and start their working lives At grubbing weeds from gravel-paths with broken dinnerknives. There’s not a pair of legs so thin, there’s not a head so thick, There’s not a hand so weak and white, nor yet a heart so sick, But it can find some needful job that’s crying to be done, For the Glory of the Garden glorifieth every one. Then seek your job with thankfulness and work till further orders, If it’s only netting strawberries or killing slugs on borders; And when your back stops aching and your hands begin to harden, You will find yourself a partner in the Glory of the Garden. Oh, Adam was a gardener, and God who made him sees That half a proper gardener’s work is done upon his knees, So when your work is finished, you can wash your hands and pray For the Glory of the Garden that it may not pass away! And the Glory of the Garden it shall never pass away!

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