This may well be the quickest garden-visit-to-post on here because I was in Marle Place gardens just this afternoon. And talking about speedy, look autumn is on its way.
There’s a reason for putting this up now though. Marle Place shuts to the public on the 29th September so there is only just enough time to visit if you rush there this week. If you do, you’ll be rewarded by the annual sculpture show.
When I told a friend where I was going, she told me she loved ‘the art garden’. Oh-uh, let me tell you a secret. I try and I try but I’m not all that fond of most garden art. Why gild the lily when gardens are so beautiful anyway?
In fact, as I was driving there, under the aching tunnels of trees my mum always called ‘cathedrals’, shafts of sunlight was dripping through so it felt I had my own disco ball turning above me, I was wondering if I wasn’t making a terrible mistake.
But Marle Place is nothing if not welcoming. Even these stones are getting a hug!
Relaxing place for a snooze too.
And as I started wandering round, a woman rushed up to tell me I was getting the garden to myself. She’d been walking round, she said, and she’d been the only person. ‘We are so lucky,’ she repeated.
In fact, there were several other visitors, but the garden is designed in a series of rooms so it is possible to imagine that you are alone. More that that, it feels as if it is your garden!
You certainly don’t feel shepherded through from one bit to another as you do in many other gardens. Which is lucky, because this is a garden to amble slowly around.
And because I’ve already told you one secret, let me tell you another. Many of the gardens I visit are subject to what I call the ‘Alice Test.’ I’m planning a garden tour to take my American friend and fellow writer, Alice Elliot Dark, on next time she comes – actually she doesn’t know she’s coming again yet but she may if I entice her with photographs of where we could write together. (Yep, that’s cake. What can I say? I am ashamed to say I’m not above bribery…)
Well, Marle Place definitely passes the Alice Test. It was, to be honest, just a little past its best but it’s still possible to see how ‘specially secret’ this garden is. In fact, I wonder if it is this influence that is encouraging these confessions today.
The house isn’t open to the public, but it’s architecturally interesting…
… and there’s plenty enough to see like this Victorian gazebo…
… tennis court…
… and swimming pool, for a quick five minute imagining of what it would be like to live there (one of my favourite things to do).
In fact, the house and gardens have been the family home of the Williams family for the last forty years. So the garden is definitely a personal creation.
A feast for the senses, and not just in the scented garden. It is rare now to be able to visit a garden with no road noise. Just birds, trees rustling, and when you find them, the chickens.
And the sculpture?
A big sigh of relief. Whether it is the careful placement…
or the mixture of artists exhibiting…
but this felt like art that added to and enhanced the beauty of the plants around it, rather than shouting so loudly it dominated everything else.
Some was witty…
… others more organic.
And I was surprised at how it encouraged me to start noticing the sculptural quality of both the plants and the garden itself…
… until I remembered that Lindel Williams, the owner, is an artist, as is her daughter, Lucy. So no wonder the private gardens are an artwork in their own right.
I bought a goodie bag to take home with me too.
And in honour of the ‘art garden’, here’s a haiku…
Late heat on my skin,
shadow tattoos on tree bark –
Website here – Marle Place gardens
Date visited – September 2013