Spring in Benjamin Britten’s garden

The Red House on the outskirts of Aldeburgh in Suffolk was the home of Benjamin Britten from 1957 to 1976.

The Red House from the croquet lawn.
The Red House through some budding mahonia.

Britten shared this extended, late-seventeenth century farmhouse with his partner, the tenor, Peter Pears, until Britten’s death in 1976.

The Composition Studio with first floor window giving views across the orchard.

Many of Britten’s world famous operas and music pieces were composed working in his first floor composition studio. Once when giving a talk he said

At the moment in my studio where I work in Aldeburgh . . . there’s a blackbird making a nest just outside my window and I’m very interested to know whether she’s sitting on her eggs when I should be working.

Benjamin Britten, 1963.
Viburnum, mahonia and ornamental flowering currant are planted along the garden wall of the Red House.

When I visited the garden earlier this week it was full of floral potential and already the gorgeous scent of an early flowering viburnum was wafting across the path on the way to the archive building.

There were buds and tightly furled leaves just waiting to burst given a couple days of sunshine.

The orchard has some old apple trees supporting mistletoe and a variety of new fruit trees that were added in 2008 as the garden was rejuvenated and recreated following the 1950s layout. The orchard has been underplanted with daffodils and pale yellow primulas and hellebores are growing beneath the surrounding hedging.

Receipts discovered in the extensive Britten-Pears Foundation Archive show that in 1958 Benjamin Britten ordered 63 fruit trees, 76 roses and two dozen blackcurrant bushes from Notcutts, the local nursery in Woodbridge.

It was a gentle, pleasant English garden and will be worth another visit later in the gardening year.

Advertisements

I may be temporarily gardenless but . . .

Bouquet-kitchenFor the first time in 22 years I am not spending spring weekends both coaxing and at the same time taming a garden from its winter state. It is a strange sensation to be without even a windowsill of outdoor plant space. Dare I say it, for the moment it makes me feel rootless!

Here is my old garden last year on the 26th April 2016 . . .

26-April-2016And, here is my last photo of the garden taken on 27 February 2017 before the pots were loaded onto the lorry.

Back-garden-27-Feb-2017B&W

So it is thank goodness for the odd bunch of seasonal flowers.

seasonal-flowersFor me certain colour combinations are simply crying out to be tweaked and developed into some form of textile work .  .  .

sp2watercoourHere, above and below, are a couple of ways I have manipulated the images to emphasise the colours and the shapes in preparation for possibly a silk scarf or a hand hooked cushion cover.

sp2-sketchAfter working on these photos saving some and deleting others, I pondered my gardenless state. Reminiscing I scrolled back through hundreds of old photos featuring the gone garden when I came upon this strange picture. If you were wondering just how odd some people can get here’s proof. No, it wasn’t April Fool’s Day either when I concocted this visual yarn!

A-moment-of-whimsey

After the rain some cheery survivors

Pattern-floral-possTimes are a little turbulent and it’s been a grey summer so far, but some flowers are doing just fine. Hardy geraniums, single clematis, small spray roses, foxgloves and poppies.

Beautiful flowers in the garden, as arrangements or simply as a single bloom bring some cheer to our daily grind.

Although I have been moaning about the English weather in previous posts, I have had enough survivors by the beginning of July for two mantlepiece arrangements.

Summer-arrangement

Catching up on those five buds of potential

Very-early-backgarden

Here is the group of five plants that were in bud at the beginning of June.

Buds-first-weekend-June

Now two weeks of early summer sun and light rain and . . . we now have the foxgloves out.

And the Oriental poppies, pink roses and the knautia.

The garden is full of daisies.

However, we’ve to wait a little for the salvia and then much later for the hollyhocks.

But time is marching on and it’s almost time to start clearing away the euphorbia bracts after all the seeds have popped out.

And-finishing-Euphorbia

Past, present, future – the first weekend of June 2015

Blue-and-white-bearded-irisRecently, we might have experienced unseasonably cool weather across East Anglia, but there’s still been plenty of blooming flowers in the garden to brighten the first weekend of June.

Some of the irises, aquilegias and early summer roses are in full glory.

A few stragglers from May are graciously fading away.

But, wait a minute, there’s all this potential just about to burst forth!

June in an English country garden (well, actually a suburban back garden with cottage style planting) can be a quietly charming moment – weather permitting!

Wisteria – a scented affair too

Long-white-racemes-Wisteria-

Wisteria floribunda (Japanese wisteria) comes out a little later than the classic mauve Chinese wisteria, but it’s well worth the wait. It also has a rich heady scent particularly noticeable at dusk.

wisteria floribunda
Weather permitting sitting in the dappled shade under the pergola dripping with Wisteria floribunda is a romantic experience.

Some of the white racemes are 18 inches long and the whole display is humming with bees.

Richly-scented-too

It is a fleeting display though as before the last buds at the bottom of each raceme are open the pea-like flowers at the top are already dropping.

Wisteria floribunda 25 May 2015
Wisteria floribunda
25 May 2015

May Day Holiday – labouring in the garden

End-of-dayUnusual for us Brits to get a Bank Holiday with sunshine so I made the most of it busy in the garden. Seem to be snowed under with self-sewn white honesty this year.

Honesty-soldiers

All the greens are vivid and fresh and over the pergola the wisteria is just about to burst into its dramatic display.

Spring-garden

It’s a busy time in the garden pricking out seedlings, potting on and preparing the raised beds for plantings.

Pricking-out

I’m always surprised at how each year the garden is different. Over the winter some plants have survived and others have withered, but this spring the amalanchier lamarkii (Juneberry) is finally looking tree-like after 10 years.

Amalanchier lamarkii finally looking more like a tree than a shrub.
Amalanchier lamarkii finally looking more like a tree than a shrub.

Breakfast please – it’s been a cold night

Blackbird-food

First very cold night of the winter and this morning five blackbirds have been squabbling over the limited food resources round the garden. One of the birds came up close to the window and just perched on a pot staring out across the frozen pond.

Bird-frozen-pond

Blackbirds will feed from a high bird table, but they prefer pecking around at ground level. This morning I mixed up some uncooked oats with a little lard and chucked in a few raisins and left the mixture on the patio. One male bird attempted to claim the lot, but whilst he chased off one competitor another would dart in and sneak off with a beak full.

Blackbird-waiting