J's Garden Notes - Spring 2013

Wrest Park, Silsoe in Bedfordshire

- A History of English Garden Design and Statuary

On occasions, when visiting a wonderful estate such as Wrest Park in Bedfordshire I am disappointed to find that the garden ornaments and statues there have been replaced by copies due to their condition or for their safety.  Sad is the world we live in today that we are often not allowed to enjoy the excitement of seeing and experiencing something of real age and beauty at close quarters.  I am pleased to say that this is certainly not the case here.

At Wrest Park – ‘the glorious amalgam of three centuries of English garden design’ - the gardens display a large and important collection of statuary and ornament and English Heritage is actively trying to reinstate, where possible, some of the originals that have been sold over the years. 

- with the help of the Arts Fund, a lead statue of Diana was bought back for Wrest Park last year and is now settled into her place overlooking Ladies Lake.

It is well worth a visit to this really varied in style and exciting garden and to see the use of garden ornament there.  You can feel the history through the beautiful statuary, follies and pavilions, vases, finials, grand carved gateways, hidden avenues and even a glade encircled with Roman altars.

Wrest Park has ‘one of the few remaining gardens of the early 18th century.  Top landscape designers were invited to take part in their evolution including ‘Capability’ Brown who was responsible for the introduction of the amazing Bath House (below) and the serpentine canals fashionable in the mid 1700s.















Wrest Park, Silsoe, Bedfodshire MK45 4HR 01525 860152 – English Heritage


Oh to have an orangery!

 "The orangery became a necessary adjunct to the great house when the fashion was adopted from France and Italy of having orange and other tender trees in tubs for the summer ornament of the great terrace."  Gertrude Jekyll from her book 'Garden Ornament'

The organgery at West Park is French in style and was built in the 1830's.  It was once stocked with large orange trees which were apparently bought from King Louis Philippe of France.  These grew to a great size and were occasionally wheeled out through the full height doors to adorn the slope below the orangery or the paths around it.  

Sadly there are no longer plants in this really beautiful building.  The orangery houses the original chimney piece from the old house dated around 1600 which bears the family - de Grey - coat of arms and the motto (also found in stone over the entrance to the gardens - 'Foy est tout'  Faith is everything.

Finally....... Spring is here


Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

William Wordsworth - Lines Written in Early Spring


The Sound of Water

The sound of water in the garden is very special but can also be extremely unpleasant if got wrong. 

I have found that if you set up a water feature with the water falling into the deepest part of the reservoir of water (be it a trough, bowl or pool) it has the most pleasing sound.  If possible use a long spout to get the fall of water well out beyond the edge.

Don’t be afraid to turn down the flow on a small pump – or fall into the trap of buying too large a pump which will only pump very fast and therefore very loud.  There are lots of really good small pumps available these days with filters to stop them clogging up too often and they don’t need to be expensive either.

If possible try and split the water out of a tap or pump spout.  This can be done in the mouth of the spout so that it is a much more interesting flow, not a rounded pipe - heavy flow.  If using a simple hose out of a spout you can fit a little piece of copper pipe into the end of it which can be flattened to split the flow of water.  This also can make the sound of the water subtly softer and more pleasant in the backround.


Wrought Iron Gothic Windows

These wonderful old windows are crying out for someone to build an orangery or pavilion around them.  

There are 5-7 of them at 7ft2in high and there are some smaller matching rectangular ones with the diamond pattern also.

They are on the website under miscellanious


'Verrucchio Boy with Dolphin'

This little figure of a boy with dolphin is in bronze and is a 20th C copy of the original Putto col delfino di Verrocchio which is to be found surmounted on the fountain in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.  Andrea del Verrocchio 15th C sculptor.

This is a really nice reproduction and stands as the fountain head on a wide cast iron fountain bowl made by Handyside in England in the late 19th C.  

Together they create a wonderful low fountain which could be used stand alone or preferrably standing above and flowing into a larger pool.  The design of the wide bowl creates a beautiful flow of water into a pool below.

J's Pots has moved.  Our new base is we discover, the home of many wild and semi wild ducks.  We share our new ground with these families and are gradually being accepted by them!  They do however need to check out all of the ornaments, being especially partial to the ones with water!


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