Thursday, 18 August 2011

FHS Visit to Chenies Wednesday 17th August.

Valerie Marsh organised a visit of the Finchley Horticultural Society to see the Gardens and Tudor house at Chenies Manor, a stones throw from Amersham and the M25 or the M40.  As this is so near to our base in north London it was sensible to use our own available transport rather than to hire a coach and at just after 1 pm on Wednesday this week 22 people left in a convoy of cars from Gordon Road Finchley on this mini adventure.
The first view of the house as we drove up to Chenies Manor
At the first sight of the house my heart skipped a beat; this looked very promising. On arrival at the gate we were given tickets for the house tour.  Driving along the gravel path through to the car park we felt very grand indeed.
Jenny kindly offered me and two of her friends a lift in her car
As mentioned on Chenies website, there is ample parking and people and signposts aplenty to guide us to the right area.  We were then free to roam the gardens at our own pace until it was time for the tour of the house.  
Courtyard garden 
All the plantings were colour co-ordinated; in this area the planting was predominantly white with some blue agapanthas. The potted plants in The Courtyard garden were magnificent. I wouldn't fancy being the one who has to water all of these!!!!!!
Fountain and bell in Courtyard garden
In the centre of the courtyard there was a fountain surrounded by beautiful plants in pots.  I spotted a bell hanging from the gable; I can't imagine how you begin to ring it as the little piece of string hanging down is so short and the bell is so high!!!
Rose garden lawn
This literally breathtaking vista opens up before you as you walk through from The Courtyard garden.  The lawn is immaculate and the white and pink flowers seem to sparkle around the edges.  The topiary hedges are a wonderful foil for the exuberant planting.  I would absolutely love to have this garden at the back of my house. 
Keeping it tidy!

An army of paid and volunteer gardeners are needed to keep this garden tidy. This is definitely not a low maintenance affair. Many ladies were in evidence pruning and deadheading. They must get wonderful compost from all of this stuff.  As we were walking round someone mentioned what wonderful soil they had.  I may come back to that one later.
West face of house
The castellations and marvelous brickwork are very impressive and the Chimney stacks (of which there are 22) are of the same period as Hampton Court, hence the similarity.  Many large windows are visible and when inside the house it is generally very light. 
There seemed to be no dead heads on any plants so the gardeners are clearly working very hard to keep things in the peak of condition.  I didn't see a single slug hole either.  Iam extremely jealous.
Tea Time
We stopped by for tea in the most wonderful setting, surrounded by plants and trees including and enormous old Bramley apple tree laden with large green fruit.
Gazebo left over from a film shoot
Lots of films and television programmes are shot here and this gazebo was a left over prop!!!!!!  My garden wouldn't be big enough for this "prop".  Just nearby this feature there is an intriguing yew maze, quite a difficult one to master based on a double icosahedron.  This was "built" very recently from an Sunday Times award winning design to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Hampton Court maze.
I came upon a mulberry tree in full fruit it was so pretty that I have decied this is something I must have.  It was wonderful and mulberries or SO tasty. 
Grape vine
Grapevines ("Brandt") with masses of bunches of grapes were draped over this metal pergola.  Parallel to this on the south side of the white garden there was a pleached lime tree walkway,which you can see in the background of the photograph below.
Topiary Bird in The White Garden
The topiary birds in this garden were the main feature in my opinion although there is still wonderful planting here and a central "island" bed with a modern steel sculpture as its main feature. 

Elizabeth 1st's Oak
There is a great deal of history and legend associated with Chenies Manor not least of which is its association with Tudor Royalty.  This oak tree is said to have been one under which Elizabeth 1st sat .  It is certainly old enough and would no doubt have looked very different in those days.  It is entirely hollow now but trees don't need the core to survive so it may go on for another thousand years.  What a thought!
Scarecrow in the Vegetable Patch
This charming scarecrow has inspired Jenny to organise a scarecrow competition for a future event at our Allotments.  I think it is a fine figure of a scarecrow especially the nose!
Guided House Tour, Inner Court Garden
We still had quite a lot left on the list to see before the guided tour,which was most informative about the history of the house and its occupants and royal visitors. There have been dwellings on this site since about 1180 but the main period of brick construction occured in the 15th century.  The buildings have undergone many changes over the centuries. Henry VIII and Elizabeth 1st were certainly documented as visiting. Henry's ghost is said to roam the stairs at night..........  Our Guide told us of various films and TV programmes shot in the house and gardens and the story of the leftover gazebo.  Time Team have also dug here and uncovered what were thought to be Tudor royal apartments.  As People still live in this house it is very much a home and feels like it as you walk about the place.  I think however that the bedrooms may not be the one's they family sleep in and we didn't see any bathrooms although we did see an Elizabethan Privy!! Not still in use (I hope).  However apparently the privy products fell down to the South Border and the plants are particularly lush in this part of the garden!!!!!
Ancient Lawn Mowers around the Well
Although we had fine weather for most of the time it was starting to rain and we still had quite a few things left to do and very little time to do it.  We eventually found our way to the physic garden  and the Well House.  There was a collection of old lawnmowers and other interesting finds housed in this pretty little 19th century hexagonal building.  The well is about 170 ft deep ; the top is covered by a grille now; thank goodness, but the water still supplies the garden when needed.

There are lots of seats dotted all around the gardens to allow one to sit and enjoy the vistas and views or just to sit and contemplate.  There is a lot more to see here and it is a wonderful garden to visit. I am looking forward to go again in Spring to see the tulips.

Don't forget to click on my Flickr site for more photographs
Please note:  Any Errors in this account are entirely my own.
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