Thursday, April 18, 2013

Chickens, derelict and lungwort.

1. "It's certainly the most unusual view I've ever had from a B&B window," says Nick. Our room looks out over a small paddock containing the family's half dozen chickens and geese. They are endlessly fascinating -- we watch them squeezing nonchalantly under the gate if they fancy a wander round the garden or a raid on the horse's dropped food. And once the cockerel with his glossy plumes flying rushes a goose who is bullying one of his hens. I like them best when the wind is behind them so their tail feathers are blown forwards.

2. We go to visit the gardens and steam museum at Bressingham. Everyone apologises because the Nursery Line, which used to run through a working nursery ablaze with colour now runs through a derelict wasteland of abandoned polytunnels. I rather like it though -- it's an unusual landscape, post-apocalyptic. I comment on the vast glass house now full of lusty goat willow that is flowering well ahead of the trees outside. The guard smiles wryly. "You don't want to be up there when the wind is high. Glass panes flying everywhere."

3. The gardens are rather bare and earthy just now (except the winter garden, right) -- but the new mulch smells delicious. There are a few things out -- the sheer variety of pulmonarias astonish me. In our garden it's a thuggish creature with flopping smothering unhealthy-looking spotted leaves and flowers like the reds and blues in a dirty paintbox. Here there are dozens of genteel cultivars with neat, shapely leaves and flowers in astonishing intense sapphire and crimson; or shell-like pinks and blues. I want them all.

4. Peering through the window of a one-time royal train and seeing that it has a bath.