Gardening doesn’t come much better than this – a bit of expert advice, some decent food and perhaps even a night away from it all.
York’s Middlethorpe Hall and Spa, a 29-bedroom hotel which dates from the 18th-century, also happens to have 20 acres of manicured gardens and parkland.
It’s a plantsman’s garden full of unusual and interesting treasures scattered throughout a maze of small gardens.
The foundation of the original garden wall, at the end of the south lawn, now acts as a ha-ha planted with scented shrubs such as lavender, and part of the extensive Victorian walled kitchen garden has been retained and planted with a magnificent central double herbaceous border and box-edged beds containing species of old fashioned roses.
To the west of the kitchen garden is the rose garden noted for the wide stone path lined with lavender, the flowers of which almost touch in the centre, and for the tall razor sharp yew hedge that surrounds it.
There’s also a garden planted with white-flowering plants such as Wisteria floribunda with Agapanthus campanulatus albus below, but also has blue ceanothus clipped to the wall. The walk leads to the spring garden where cherry and apple trees are planted in grass around a red oak.
And throughout this year, Middlethorpe Hall will be hosting events with an emphasis on its gardens.
On Thursday, June 20, there’s a RHS garden tour and luncheon when head gardener David Barker will lead a tour of the award-winning gardens.
This will be followed with a demonstration of the use of herbs. To round it off, there will be a three-course luncheon with wine. All that will set you back £29 or £36, depending on whether or not you’re a member of the RHS.
Then, on Thursday, July 4, flamboyant Yorkshire florist Carl Wilde will lead a tour of Middlethorpe’s gardens before he demonstrates the use of garden flowers in stunning arrangements. This will be followed by lunch. That little lot comes to £59. Finally, on Thursday, October 3, David Barker will be out and about again to take visitors on a tour of Middlethorpe’s walled garden while discussing the harvesting and storing of fruit and preserving fruit and vegetables for Christmas. Again, there’s lunch to follow (£29 members of the RHS/ £36 non-members).
More details from www. middlethorpe.com