On a very hot and sunny Thursday in June, twelve of our members went to the Longstock Water Gardens near Stockbridge and enjoyed two hours strolling around the beautiful gardens which are part of the John Lewis Partnership. The gardens are only open to the public on selected Sundays from May to September but thanks to the generosity of the JL Partnership, our group was allowed a personal visit. The head gardener told us a little of the history of the Gardens, before we were left to explore some of the 7 acre site. “The Gardens were created by the Beddington family in the 1930’s and further developed by John Spedan Lewis in the 1940’s as a place to reflect and relax”. That certainly is a very apt description.
Our group had previously visited the Gardens in August last year on an overcast and somewhat drizzly day, but despite there being only a few flowers, the setting and the plants were stunning. We were hoping for beautiful blooms this year, in the sunshine… and we weren’t disappointed!
The sun was reflecting off the water, and the plants were in full bloom. There were fish in the lakes, swimming among the 40 different varieties of waterlillies. Blue damselflies landed on the huge leaves of the Gunnera plants and we saw many varieties of Hosta, which had somehow avoided being eaten by slugs. A number of garden benches were sited around the lakes, offering the perfect location to soak up the peace and tranquility.
We drove the short distance to the Longstock Park Nursery and Leckford Farm Shop where we wandered among the huge array of plants for sale. The Farm Shop offered fresh produce, where some of us took advantage of the reduced price items including the very delicious “Berry Compote” – perfect with yoghurt for breakfast the next day.
The Nursery also has a beautiful brick and flint walled garden which is home to National Collections of Buddleja and Clematis Viticella. It also houses an historic 80 metre herbaceous border with a fabulous display of colours and textures.
And finally, we had afternoon tea and cream teas at the Leckford Farm Cafe – a feast of sandwiches, scones and cakes. A truly wonderful afternoon of serenity, good company, beautiful weather and good food.
Thank you to Jackie Bugg, Sue Arnold, Linda Bett and Jackie Evans for arranging this trip and thanks also to the John Lewis Partnership for allowing us entry to the Gardens and Leckford Café for the lovely afternoon / cream teas.