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The Newt in Somerset, to be precise. I hadn’t seen my cousin Mary, who lives in Croydon, for several years, so her love of gardens and gardening, along with the fact that I had a garment to hand over that I had knitted for her, gave the perfect pretext for us to get together last Friday, 20th August, in one of my favourite local places.

South West Trains brought her in perfectly on time to Templecombe Station, which is about 15 minutes’ drive from The Newt (also served by GWR to Castle Cary, just five minutes’ away). We started with the obligatory coffee, bought from the Cyder Bar, and studied the plan of the grounds.

By then, we had just 30 minutes or so before our lunch reservation at the Garden Café, and Mary opted to visit The Parabola, which features hundreds of varieties of apples, and I suggested that the kitchen garden would nicely fill the rest of the time.

(I covet Mary’s bag, which she told me she found in a charity shop.)

Not only apples are grown in The Parabola, so named for its shape.

To get to the kitchen garden, you go past the huge wildflower area,

and through a tunnel, which I’ve seen develop from not there, to there but plantless, to supporting small nameless plants,

to producing many different varieties of gourds.

The kitchen garden goes in for a lot of companion planting.
The view from our lunch table, showing well the parabolic shape

It was time to make our way to The Story of Gardening. No time to wait for this deer to lift its head.

We could have just walked down the slope to the entrance, but instead went the slightly longer way round on the slightly vibrating walkway,

from which we saw these deer.

I think this selection of photographs does not too much replicate the visit I made with my friend Mary four weeks previously!

We are not holding mobile phones, but the gadget with its white aerial, which knew exactly where we were and therefore which commentaries to offer us, and from which we could choose using the little shovel-shaped labels.
Interactive panels about famous gardeners abounded. Who knew that Charlemagne was among them?

Mary was very envious of the Victorians for their greenhouses.

I have a booking for the Eden Project in three weeks’ time.

Four weeks ago, I assumed that these smell horns would not (because of Covid) be working. This time they certainly were.

On the long Tool Wall, I was attracted to these many balls of string, all apparently made by the same company.

It was time to move back to real plants, mainly flowers, once we had visited the cactus house.

The Cottage Garden

The Victorian Fragrance Garden

Mary pointed out toxic Monk’s Hood to me.

Part of the White Garden, near to the Red and Blue Gardens

The beginning of The Cascade

Hadspen House, now a luxury hotel

The view from the same spot 180 degrees round. The far pool retains its historic name of the Bathing Pool, though I think paddling would be all it enables, now anyway.

The Fowl House, within the Lower Egg

Back through The Parabola,

where Mary got the joke before I did.

After a visit to the farm shop, where we bought freshly ground coffee, and bottles of the pink cyder of which we had been given small samples at lunch, we made our way to the Cyder Bar, where we enjoyed glasses of The Newt’s delicious chilled fresh lemonade.

A final look round the tropical greenhouse, and it was time to take Mary to my place, from where her brother (a third first cousin – I only have five! – met within 11 days!) picked her up from her to spend the night of his and his partner’s house.