The Valley Gardens, Windsor Great Park. 19.04.13

We left Sir Harold Hillier's lovely garden in the full sunshine of a spring afternoon and whizzed up the motorway in a jolly frame of mind. As we approached Windsor Gloria said that she could do with a little walk to relieve the pressure on her legs (which swell up if she sits for too long). We stopped for a wander through the delightful Valley Gardens as the clouds gathered and the evening started to whisper of the dinner to come.

It is a most remarkable garden, arranged to provide shrubby entertainment during a walk through the wonderful woodlands

This Corylopsis sinensis was grown from seed gathered in China and planted in the gardens in 2009. The primrose flowers shone out in the evening light. Gloria says that she took the picture more in hope than expectation but it seems to have worked out for her. She is a diligent wonder with all the little buttons. I had a housekeeper once who could keep my husbands shirts in working order long after the contents had ceased functioning, but I digress.

The plaque on this tree reminds us of the great storm of 1987 which brought down 1500 large trees in the Gardens. The damage has been repaired and the shrubs have taken advantage of the extra light so there have been some good outcomes.

Among the large trees that survived was this Magnolia campbellii 'Charles Raffill'. It is a Champion Tree, and in 2010 (when it was last measured) it had a girth of 2.75m. Gloria tells me that if the two of us were wrapped around the trunk we would just about meet head to toe, but I didn't find that any more helpful. With Gloria's legs and my tenuous dignity I can't imagine either of us would be willing to lie down and test it.

It is much easier to appreciate the size of this meadow of Narcissus bulbocodium in one of its paler lemon forms. I was always taught to call this 'Citrinus' but I have recently been informed that I am wrong, so I have stopped. It grows wonderfully in the rich wet soil that forms in hollows in the garden.

The water table is quite close to the surface here as the presence of Virginia Water will attest. We had a relaxing and informative walk through the Royal Landscape and I didn't think there could be a better end to a day. I was wrong, naturally. I sometimes suppose that it would be better if I didn't think at all. As we returned past the head of Virginia Water, Gloria was attacked by a duck. I haven't laughed so much since I heard that our local supermarket had been cautioned for selling Horse Wellington ready meals.

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