The recent run of warm, sunny days has seen us out and about visiting National Trust properties in the area.
This is an integral part of each growing season for me because it offers a yardstick against which we can measure the performance of plants in our own garden.
Each of the places visited displayed more growth and colour than anyone could have anticipated given the late start to the growing season.
At Wallington’s walled garden, a long-time favourite, that view from the holding pool down the stream’s course, was the best I’ve seen it in years – the highlight being groups of mature hydrangea in full bloom.
Cragside’s formal garden offered colour in abundance, not least from eye-catching bedding near the glasshouses, and who could resist The Gertrude Jekyll garden set over the field from Lindisfarne Castle?
Two weeks ago, still in tourist mode, we drove across between tides for what has become a regular visit.
The Exhibition Centre was first up, with its excellent Lindisfarne Gospels display.
After discovering how the tome was made, how wonderful to experience the interactive touch-screen facsimile. Outside, almost over the road, stands the Gospels Garden, a reconstruction by friend Stan Timmins of the 2002 silver medal exhibit at Chelsea.
Saint Mary’s Church was on our route anyway to re-visit the evocative, larger-than-life-size, wood sculpture The Journey, but this time there was the bonus of a flower festival.
With the sun shining brightly outside, we took leisurely tea and scones at Clive and Sue’s Island Oasis, then the 15-minute walk down to the Castle and on to that lovely garden.
It has been restored as authentically as possible to the original Gertrude Jekyll design and is maintained by the National Trust.
Knowing the historic background enhances the experience of sitting on the bench looking out over to the fortress and sea beyond.
But to enjoy it to the full, you must first read Edwin Lutyens’s documentation (in the castle) relating to his stay there and collaboration with Miss Jekyll, whom he refers to as Bumps.