, , , , , , , ,

Still with bruises all over, and my arm still bandaged, I went with three friends to Knoll Gardens, near Wimborne in Dorset a few days ago. To quote from their leaflet, In just 40 years, Knoll has progressed from being a market garden to being a private botanic, specialising in Australasian plants, to today’s naturalistic display garden. Many of the rare and unusual trees and shrubs you’ll see in the garden are a legacy of the original plantings. Now under the stewardship of Neil Lucas, Knoll is internationally acclaimed showing Neil’s fabulous collection of ornamental grasses through a series of horticultural galleries.

Having lost a lovely, but old, crab apple tree to honey fungus last year, I had converted that area to a gravel garden, and had already furnished it with a few ornamental grasses a couple of weeks previously. But I just had space for two more. So I was delighted that they had an excellent selection on sale, and found just what I wanted as we left. With four of us in the car all buying, it was a good job that I hadn’t decided to buy my entire stock from Knoll!

But I’m jumping ahead. Come round with us to see the trees, grasses, lawns, shrubs and other plants – and then we’ll go blueberrying…

It was quite overcast when we started going round, but as a high chance of rain was forecast, we did not complain when the sun only came out not long before we left.
Pontederia/pickerel weed in one of the ponds
A well-established bug hotel
The ‘guardian’ of the garden seen from the pergola walk
The dragon, specially commissioned from Susan Ford, (link to come if I can find an authenticated one) is based on the legend of St Dunstan, patron saint of goldsmiths and one of the four patron saints of Wessex. The legend goes that when the devil tried to tempt him from his work he struck him on the nose with a red hot tong. The harp is the emblem of St Dunstan, who was a metalworker, born here in mid-Somerset, sometime Abbot of Glastonbury, and later Archbishop of Canterbury.
This eucalyptus was blown down in a storm some years ago. Retained as a feature it is re-growing.
Each of us took a photo of the other three sitting in these chairs. (There was no passing stranger to take the four of us, and it did not occur to any of us to try to take a selfie – I’m quite pleased at that!)

Tipped off by a neighbour that there was an organic pick-your-own blueberry place next door to the Gardens, I had suggested that we take containers. So, having bought our plants, we left the car in the car park and walked to the nursery.

We were invited to try the five different varieties of blueberry before we started picking, ranging from sharpish through to sweetish. I chose somewhere in the middle (Herbert). These are the bushes you come to first but we were encouraged to go to the other end, where the branches were absolutely dripping with fruit. We soon learned not to pick the berries individually because other ripe ones dropped to the ground. So we held our containers underneath the bunches. Tickling them was a very speedy way of gathering all we wanted. Picking goes on until the fruit runs out, likely the end of August.
A humorous request not to eat while picking

I was so busy picking – or rather catching – that I failed to take pictures of either the dripping bushes, or the full container of more than one kilo that I picked. I’m now enjoying the latter in smoothies, with ice cream, and on their own, and there are many more in the freezer. I may even try one of the recipes on their website.

There is talk of this becoming an annual expedition.