The Real Secret Garden

Did you see  the Great British Food Revival on BBC 2 last Wednesday? It was all about rhubarb. I love rhubarb and we grow (or used to) so much of it in England; mainly in the Wakefield area. The dimple-cheeked presenter of the show, Gregg Wallace, visited  Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire to interview the head gardener there. Apparently Clumber Park grows 95 varieties of rhubarb in its kitchen garden. 95. Sheesh!

So yesterday (Sunday) Mr P and I took ourselves off to Clumber Park. Not just for the rhubarb – we’re not that mad on it – but because Clumber Park, a National Trust property, is beautiful in Autumn.

Here’s one of the varieties of rhubarb we found, just to get you wild with excitement:

The walled garden itself is a magical place. The second you step into it you go back in time. Everything is as it was in Victorian times. Better still, everything is as it is described in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s book The Secret Garden.

This is one view (above) of the walled garden in Clumber Park. Here’s a description from The Secret Garden when the newly-orphaned Mary Lennox sees it for the first time:

‘She  went through the door and found that it was a garden with several walls around it and that it was only one of several walled gardens which seemed to open into one another…’

Mary befriends the curmudgeonly gardener, Ben Weatherstaff. I didn’t spot his equivalent at Clumber yesterday but the Mess Room (below) is where he might have had his lunch. Love the bowler hat on the table:

Of course the kitchen garden isn’t the secret garden. Mary discovers that later, when a gust of wind swayed ‘the trailing sprays of untrimmed ivy hanging from the wall…’ to reveal the wood and iron of a hidden door.

I couldn’t see any hidden doors at Clumber but there were plenty of locked ones like this (above)

More photos:

Terracotta pots

The glasshouse

Homegrown produce – pumpkins, marrows and gourds galore. Everything grown in the garden would have been used to feed the owners and workers on the estate. Now it tends to be used in the cafe and restaurant or sold to visitors.

 I’m hoping my blog has made you want to do one of two things: visit somewhere like Clumber Park or read The Secret Garden. The original  is a classic, of course but if you wanted a simplified yet equally satisfying version might I recommend an adaption in the new series from Oxford Treetops? Condensed for your delight by …erm… little me:

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