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Last weekend I visited two National Garden Scheme gardens. On Saturday it was to two adjacent gardens in the village of Benter, near Radstock, Somerset. Radstock celebrates Somerset Coalfield Life in its museum. Coal-mining flourished in Somerset in the first two decades of the twentieth century, the last mine closing in 1974. It is believed that mining went on in the area as long ago as when the Romans were here. The ‘Father of English geology’, William Smith, was working as a surveyor in these coalmines when he made his observations leading to the understanding of geological strata.

Apart from the occasional relic, you would never know of the county’s coal-mining past, though stone-quarrying still flourishes in some parts. The whole area is now almost entirely idyllically rural once more. And that is certainly true of the small village of Benter. These two lovely gardens were those of two generations of the same family, (and there was evidence of a younger third generation!) There was no clear boundary between them.

This flower bed is one of the first to greet you, and the picture also shows the two very different houses.

Another bed …

… tried to draw me into a formal area, but I was soon enticed away to the woodlands. The background in this first image is outside the properties.

The tree house was out of bounds to visitors, sadly!

This was quite a lengthy walk, and I was beginning to wonder if I was going to have to walk all the way back, hoping not as some of the path had been a little tricky by the stream. But no, after a while I found myself approaching open space again, and on my way to the planted gardens.

I was very excited to know the name of this: hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’. It had featured on Gardeners’ World the evening before! It had only stuck in my mind – I who know nothing of botany – because of the ‘arborescens’ bit, which meant something to me from my schoolgirl Latin days. Moreover, the younger generation host was standing by – this her in-laws’ garden apparently – and she said she just knew it was called ‘Annabelle’.
The cock was crowing loudly as I stopped to observe this strutting group.
None of them volunteered to demonstrate how to use their swing.
I was now definitely in the younger generation’s garden.
The kitchen garden was a great mixture of edibles and decoratives.
I admired how the spiky plants were grouped together, united by the flat-headed ones.
The wingspan of this colourful day moth was just 15 millimetres (1/2 inch).

A pleasant hour spent in two lovely ‘domestic’ gardens. A pity the sky had been overcast all the time, but it had been warm. The next day’s visit was to a very different kind of garden – and the sun was out.