Until July 2017, documenting the seasons of coastal Dorset. I'm a complete amateur so don't trust I'm always right. If ever you see I'm wrong - whether with identifications or in anything else - do say! Meanwhile . . . I've now moved to Halifax in West Yorkshire. Click on the link below to collect the new URL. Don't forget to follow there!

Sunday, 28 June 2015


Bulbs (hyacinths I think by the look of them) drying on staging in a sheltered
green house with dusty windows at Kingston Lacy.
This is currently my favourite photo and I have it as my desktop picture.
Years ago (literally years (not metaphorically as they would say in Pirates of the Carribean) (July 2011)) . . . I wrote about the way romantic ruins may have brutal histories and took you with me to visit Corfe Castle in Dorset - a popular tourist place but a pace of war too for it was sieged during the Civil War of 1642 - 51 and demolished when the Parliamentarians won. (When a Castle Explodes.) The Civil War was never fun.  But regardless of which side one can imagine ourselves supporting, we are all likely to be impressed by the bravery of (the Royalist) Lady Mary Bankes and the others who held it for six weeks against the Parliamentary siege.

I don't know what happened to the Bankes family next (can anyone tell me?) but in 
1660 their fortunes were restored, along with the monarchy - and in 
1643 they got Sir Roger Pratt to design a new home at Kingston Lacy. 
It was completed two years later - 1645.
1645! Given it's size (and it really is big) I'd say that was pretty good going.

It's now owned by the Natinal Trust and I visited it for the first time earlier this year.
(Remember, I mentioned it in a review about Victoria Summerley's new book 'Secret Gardens of the Cotswolds' (not that Kingston Lacy is in the Cotswolds but we'll pass this by) and annoyed some readers by saying, among other things, that visiting National Trust properties is 'a diversion for the semi-geriatric with nothing better to do'.)

But I really enjoyed it there so . . . thinking there was nothing I'd like more than to re-visit I donned my elderly person attire and went back to potter around as fast as I could.

Now, dear readers, I don't want to put you off Loose and Leafy so whenever you find yourselves wary of anything, please keep a large pinch of salt to hand.

Runner bean poles in the Vegetable Garden. The gardens are pretty as well as practical.
I imagine the marigolds are there as companion planting. (To distract blackfly?)
Here there are chives as well.
Varieties are noted on upturned flower pots..
HOWEVER, all the time I was there I thinking

'how many visitors are here today who don't have white hair?' 

I didn't do an actual count but the answer was . . . tarantara . . . hardly anyone. (And the place was throbbing with visitors. No-where in the large grounds could you co without half a dozen other people being there too.)

Not really surprising, I suppose. It's right out in the country and most un-retired people are at work on Thursdays - and at weekends too. (Though I've been told a lot of younger people become National Trust members for the sake of free car-parking when they meet up with friends at places like Studland Beach.)

Now, there's nothing wrong with having white hair. One of the good (good?) things about blogging is that we are all, nearly all anyway, largely anonymous. So . . . perhaps . . . I have white hair too . . . or green . . . (I've always liked the idea of having green hair or blue, at least bits of it, maybe streaks . . . so one day . . . ) . . .

One of the things I specially like about the gardens at Kingston Lacy
is the way an incredibly efficient way of growing vegetables with a relaxed atmosphere.
Here, an empty small-plant tray lies on a patch where there are scarlet pimpernel.
Bother. Too many brackets and too many dots and not enough about the gardens.

After the semi-geriatric post, Pat (one of whose ancestors was a woodsman there in Victorian times) asked if I'd got as far as the vegetable gardens. Well, I did and didn't. The grounds are enormous and the vegetable gardens are at the bottom of the hill which is a long way from the house and evening was drawing in and I didn't want to get locked in with it. (Pause for breath.) So I took a glance at the neat rows and labels and green houses and cold frames and the outside of the orchid house (though orchids aren't quite vegetables) and other buildings . . . (I mean, as much of a glance as I could manage for the vegetable beds are themselves so vast they rattle off into the distance) and zoomed up and down some of the paths before it got dark. The grounds are pleasant but not right for a February sleep-over (I think it was February) and the gates were ready to close by the time I re-reached the top of the hill . . . 

I could have shown you the fabulous array of scarecrows across the gardens but decided
to go for this damaged strawberry instead for this will be its one moment of fame.
All the other strawberries will be eaten but this one will more likely be cast aside.
But the vegetable gardens were the very part of the gardens I'd wanted to see so, when I went back, I hurried past all the white-haired people snoozing in deck chairs (sorry, I really can't resist this now) and whizzed as fast as my feet would carry me to the bottom of the hill and out of the woods into the glaring sun of the . . . we've made it! . . . vegetable gardens.

Thank heavens for ice-creams and coffee and tables with sun-umbrellas.

And thank heavens too for my camera. I think I would have needed ten ice-creams and ten coffees if I hadn't had it with me as a distraction. No. Of course not. My camera is not a distraction! Goodness no. It's more-or-less the point of going anywhere.

The variety of potatoes planted in this row.

End of post. Goodbye brackets. Stop littering the place with little dots Lucy. Stop making remarks re. the age of National Trust members. (I'll try!)


Eileen T said...

Here's some information about the Bankes family ...

Rowan said...

I'm an NT member and although past retirement age I don't have white (or grey) hair and am definitely not geriatric:) I know what you mean though, our history group visited Haddon Hall last week and pretty much everyone there was old and frequently doddery. My mum always used to make me laugh - she spent the last few years of her life in a nursing home as she had senile dementia and when I visited she frequently used to say that the place was 'full of old people' - even though she was in her mid 80s at the time she obviously didn't think of herself as one of them! I have pretty much the same attitude:)

Anonymous said...

Glad you made it that far in the end! It was a spanking hot day when we went there, too, and as you say, a VERY long way from the house. But worth it.
As you know, I'm an NT member, pretty old but not white-haired. I would be at NT places every day if I weren't working more than full-time. Their outdoor bits (not the house interiors, usually) are brilliant.
I'd like to think the NT visitors are older purely because retired people are the only ones with any time these days.
Can't wait...
Cheers :)

The Furry Gnome said...

Now this could be an interesting debate. We'd be NT members if we lived in England, but not much in the way of white hair, in fact not much hair at all. As for the geriatric, I think I can graciously admit to that, at least on some mornings. But I note that these 'older' NT members are at least OUT, visiting interesting places. Better than sitting in your rocking chair all the time! Actually, I was going through old slides of our past UK garden visits and was very Impressed at the number of families. Perhaps the private but open gardens have more kiddie attractions than NT houses, but we've always been impressed at the number of families out visiting the places we've seen. So there! I will go on dottering my way around the gardens and enjoying it!

Anonymous said...

A most enjoyable post and lovely pictures. My primary school was named Lady Bankes, and I remember a school trip to Dorset and Corfe Castle whilst attending there.
What hair I still have is grey/white, but I'm not a NT member.
Flighty xx

liz said...

Friends of mine here in the US just got a year's pass to all Federal parks, monuments, etc. for $8; what they described as "a nice perk for being 65+". Do "geriatric" or what we euphemistically call "Senior Citizens" get National Trust membership at discounted rates by dint of age? I agree with the comment above that it is good to see white-haired (young or old white-haired!) out and about visiting these historic sites and lovely gardens. I'd be a National Trust member and I'm not disclosing hair colour!
Your photos of the drying bulbs, the view through the bamboo canes, and the lonely strawberry, are lovely.

Katie Bedlow said...

I have a national trust and english heritage membership at 26 ;) But then again, I'm the only one of my friends who even enjoys gardening so it's not exactly common, but because I've been taken to these places ever since I was little It's just my idea of a good day out! Plus they usually involve a cream tea, even better! ;) Katie x


Diana Studer said...

so many white haired ladies prefer to dye their hair alarming colours. Pitch black. Lavender hair seems to have gone.

My niece has been enjoying vibrant pink streaks. When I commuted to Zurich by train there was a blonde young woman. Each Monday her streak was a fresh colour ...

If I lived in Britain I'd be a NT member. Here I have a National Botanical Gardens card, and a 'National Parks' Wild Card. And grey hair.

Gary Davis said...

I don't fall into the grey hair bracket either ( actually no hair). Great post and great photo's, love the one of the drying bulbs.

Angie said...

Having only recently decided to stop colouring my hair, I now fall into the 'almost' white haired category.
As always Lucy a great read and your take on life always leaves a smile on my face.

Donna said...

still coloring so I would be one without white hair or going gray hair perhaps...

Gina said...

Hubby and I are brand new NT members. He's grey but I'm still bright ginger. I'm impossible to lose in a crowd, even though I think he tries really hard to

Sue Garrett said...

Hi Lucy sorry bit I can't find a link box for July

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Sue - this is it