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Anyone following the Chelsea Flower Show this autumn (it’s normally held in spring) will be familiar with the name, Yeo Valley, makers of organic dairy products. Their organic garden won the People’s Choice Award for large show garden this year, not bad for first-time participants.

I had visited their garden, with my friend, Zoe, previously – it is situated roughly halfway between the homes of each of us – but the weather had been miserable on that occasion, and we didn’t get as much from the outing as we might have done. Our birthdays fall close to each other, and, for our October birthday ‘first Friday’ monthly walk, we decided to visit the garden, and make a day of it, visiting other places in the area afterwards. We went on the second Saturday, as in October the garden only opens to the public on Saturdays, and this was forecast to have better weather than the first.

In fact the weather was gorgeous. The autumn mist above us allowed the hazy sun to bless us early in the morning, and had disappeared entirely by lunchtime. My camera clicked away – I couldn’t restrain it. In the order I took them:

At the entrance – some of the plants returned from the Chelsea Flower Show, awaiting the reconstruction of the Show Garden
Sarah Mead, head gardener, resident for 25 years and original developer of the garden

On 23rd November, I shall be ‘going to’ this talk by Sarah Mead and designer Tom Massey, on how the Show Garden came about.

One of several metal sculptures in the garden
We are approaching the café where we will stop for coffee
View from the café’s terrace
The egg is that featured in the show garden, though I imagine this may only be a temporary placement
Blagdon Lake in the distance
A small woodland area
Closer inspection of the egg when occasion offered
Zoe told me that this building has some connection with the planning in BBC2’s ‘Your Garden Made Perfect’.
A small boy and a big girl play with the mirrors
Given that it was getting on for mid-October, there was an amazing amount of colour.

At midday our allotted time was up, and we had seen just about everything there was to be seen. Zoe knew of a great fish and chips place, Salt and Malt, by the side of Chew Valley Lake, just a short distance away. Alas, I took photos of neither the view nor the fish and chips, but both were very good.

We drove round the Lake to the next car park, intending to do the short ‘Grebe Walk’, which would take us firstly through some woodland, and then along the lake to see, theoretically, grebes among other birds.

But on the return leg we saw nothing but reeds in the lake at that end. Whether this was deliberate cultivation for wildlife reasons, or because of Covid-related (or other) neglect we could not tell.

We walked on beyond the car park to see what we could see. We couldn’t get closer to the lake than this.

Zooming my camera showed me that the boats were colourful.

And, looking back, gave me the chance to see some unidentifiable birds.

We had no desire to find ourselves back at the fish and chip place, so turned back to where our car was parked, with a view to winding down from our day’s outing. The drive back to Zoe’s, where my car was, took us along a quite busy road, which serves as a dam of the lake, and which is actually a reservoir owned by Bristol Water, the fifth-largest artificial lake in England. The lake is also a nature reserve and an SSSI.

There were many people leaning on the rail, but the birds were unfazed.

Mr and Mrs Mallard
Black-headed gull in winter plumage keeping watch while his friends take a nap
Shoveller duck – eclipse plumage – and ?young moorhens

Zoe and I had not quite finished putting the world to rights, so before I got into my car, we had a cup of tea in her garden, and I admired the mini-woodland she and her husband are creating there.