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After a pleasant ‘first Friday’ walk with my friend Zoe, starting and finishing in the village of Wrington in North Somerset,

on Sunday I visited Milton Lodge Gardens, just north of England’s smallest city, Wells. It is open to the public three times a week, but this time it was in aid of the National Gardens Scheme.

The weather was lovely, and the outing was popular, so I had to use the overflow car park, from which this was the view, with Glastonbury Tor, whence I had come, a pimple on the horizon.

Right near where I had parked, was this curious depression, explained in a note nearby to be a ‘triple entry pond’, unique to Mendip, and likely to date from the late 1700s. It was constructed to capture naturally draining water from the Mendip Hills, and used to channel water underground to nearly stock fields.

According to Wikipedia, “Milton Lodge was built by Aaron Foster in 1790 and descended in his family until it passed, by marriage, into the ownership of the Tudway family in the mid 19th century. The Tudways had lived nearby at a house, known as The Cedars, which was built in the 1760s by Thomas Paty, and had bought up much of the local land. In 1909 Charles Tudway moved the main family residence to Milton Lodge, with The Cedars being used during World War I as a military hospital and later by Wells Theological College and Wells Cathedral School” [which it still is].

The same source goes on to say that, “The garden was laid out in 1903 by Capt Croker Ives Partridge of the Alfred Parsons garden design company for Charles Tudway. It consists of a series of terraces planted with mixed borders including a collection of roses and climbing plants. The terraces include Yew hedges, ponds and fountains.[4] The traditional English vegetation is supplemented with Mediterranean plants which are able to flourish due to the microclimate of the site. The upper terrace includes four canons from the Napoleonic Wars are on display.”

Wells Cathedral can just about be made out middle left.

My Candide app suggested that this, of which there were several examples in the Gardens, might be a Flowering maple, (which is not a maple at all but an abutilon), but I’m not quite convinced, while failing to find a better suggestion…

The Gardens go just beyond the big hedge.

As I had walked from the car park, the way was lined with wild garlic, ransoms. I did not take a photo, but need not have worried about there being no further opportunity.

I was tempted up this tiny path to my right, (the terraces being to my left),

and was rewarded with this.

I returned to the main path, went down a few shallow steps, and found a few more ransoms.

Into parkland.

A clearer view of Wells Cathedral

As I said, the Gardens go down to just beyond the big hedge.

At the end of this path was a large area of wildflowers.

My app identified this as Camass, of which I am more confident

On the edge of the wildflower area was this knobbly tree, which I have failed totally to identify,

even given the clue of its leaf shape.

Just by the tree was a bench, one of several in the Gardens. I partook for a minute or two, surveying the lowest terrace

As I stood up, something made my eyes turn skywards, and I was thrilled to see this red kite. It is now some 30+ years since they were reintroduced into the Chiltern Hills. I had seen some in Scotland in 2011 following their reintroduction there, and I knew that they had spread westwards from Oxfordshire into Somerset. But this was the first I had seen here.

I walked through the tea area to explore the middle terrace.

Turning round I spotted a bench hidden on the other side where I thought it would be nice to take a cup of tea.

It’s hidden!
Olivia Rose Austin

Tea and cake duly bought, I found ‘my’ bench still unoccupied, with this to my left,

this to my right,

and this ahead.

As I returned to my car, it was all too tempting to take an arty photo of the Cathedral, where I shall be singing at a memorial service in a week’s time.