So in reverse order, I'd like to share three wonderful things I did on this beautiful sunny day in England. Based on a recommendation by Debbie in the Great Dixter Nursery this morning, Theis and I stopped by a plant fair on the grounds of Fairlight Hall (www.fairlighthall.co.uk) which was only 20 minutes from Great Dixter. We drove there from the Town of Hastings which is featured further below in detail. The plant fair was nice but part of the appeal in attending were the open gardens around this "castle-like" mansion which has an interesting history. Apparently it is now owned by an American and the gardens were beautiful. The owner was at the entrance to the garden and heard my "accent" and said, "Sounds like an American!?" and I indicated the affirmative and mentioned home as Wisconsin. The gardens were excellent and I should mention that all of our adventures were made possible by Theis and his excellent driving conversion to the nuances of English "rules of the road" (he's from the Netherlands).
Prior to our Fairlight Hall experience, we drove to nearby Hastings (15 miles away) which is an old coastal town (population around 90,000 including many Great Dixter employees) with cliffs overlooking the sea. The beach (below) was all smooth rocks and very clean. The water seemed to be quite cold so we passed on swimming. However, there was a Food and Wine Festival that we enjoyed and I can be seen with my first English pint of beer below...this was at 11 am. When I bought the beer I said to the guy that I feel guilty having my first beer before noon and he replied in his strong English accent, "You should feel guilty that it's only your first." So I had a second one too. The food was good as well (see Theis in the third photo down). I had Pad Thai which is good everywhere in the world apparently. We toured the older portion of the town which was neat and some of the old architecture, particularly the churches, was still intact. The eighth photo down shows the ruins of Hastings Castle which was ordered built by William the Conqueror when he landed in 1066. Much of the most recent decline was from damage during WWII. This is the first Norman motte and bailey castle to be built in England.
Above is an example of some of the country roads that we traveled today. By the way, this is a road for both directions and is only about 12' wide and lined with solid hedges. In fact, in some areas, we hoped we wouldn't run in to a vehicle coming the other way as I couldn't imagine how they would pass! The roads here are a lot more narrow than in the United States but they certainly manage. Theis did an excellent job driving and has some good experience over here since his arrival to Great Dixter as a student as well. Speaking of Great Dixter, I didn't neglect my walk around the gardens this morning and I continue to capture great plants and combinations at every turn!
'Brunette' fairy candles (Actaea simplex) - perennial