Savill Gardens. 04.06.13

Sir Eric Savill built a wonderful garden in Windsor Great Park. He started work for the Crown Estates in 1930 as a deputy surveyor and was promoterd to deputy ranger in 1937. He built the garden through the 1930's and it has become world famous for am almost unique style and exuberance. All if that is well known. He built it as an extension to the Valley Gardens which have stood on the north side of Virginia Water since the mid eighteenth century. For some years there has been a suggestion (which is probably not true) that he built it on his own initiative without seeking approval. Whatever the facts, it is a remarkable place.

Gloria loves to visit in the sunshine of late spring. She enjoys the inky black shadows and I enjoy the magnificent display of spring blooms. I'm sure the garden is lovely at all seasons but if I missed the Rhododendron I would feel slightly cheated. Gloria talks ecstatically about the interplay of something-or-other and the subtle conflict of illumination. Apparently it can be seen in her pictures. I'm sure she's right.

Many years ago I was married to a man whose chief passtime appeared to be the purchse of mines of one sort or another. As a result I spent many hours sitting in a motor car looking through the window at some form of landscape devastation, occasionally with distant protestors. My main consolation was a wonderfully warm camel coat and a small dog. In the end the coat went when the chairman of something that was probably important at the time described it as the camel that barked, more Yorkie than coat. Fortunately they went out of fashion (coats, Yorkies, Chairmen) and I was left rather unimpressed.
I don't like magnolia either. Stupid colour, nothing like the real thing.
I do like this one however, which is 'Charles Coates', a rather large and energetic thing that stays well furnished to the ground and has the intangible scent of high finance.

This is the season of evergreen azaleas, alight with the unlikely colours of a burning chemical store. The great talent in evidence here is the grouping of them by season rather than colour so that they all reach a peak at the same time and the display isn't spoiled by the brown tatters of those that peaked too early.

In years gone by the garden has been awash with rivers of Meconopsis but they have dried up. There are a few last 'Lingholm' to speak of past glories to a photographer who was happy to squirm about on her tummy to record them and you won't need to be told who had to make her look a bit more presentable at the end of the day.

The dense tree cover of mature oaks has been thinned through the years to allow the rich understorey of Rhododendron and shade perennials to prosper. It creates a fascinating patckwork of light and colour and tells of long hours of weeding.

This is the boldness of planting that characterises the best parts of the garden. These splendid Tulipa sprengeri are massed under an oak tree and have been prospering for some years. They seem to be naturalised. In my garden I would have to add to the bulbs each year to keep such a display going.

Away from the protection of the trees, the dry garden bakes in the early summer sun like a tiny mediterranean maquis in Windsor. Later in the year it will be fragrant with the dry herbs of late summer. By August the whole garden will develop a rich burnished tan speckled with colour like a beach on the Italian riviera.
I'm sure we will return when the giddy colours of spring have receded and we can enjoy the calming form and structure that supports them.

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