On Bank Holiday Monday, my friend Jen and I went to visit Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. Apparantly, according to my mother, I have been there before, but personally I think that before the age of about 25, every single country house/National Trust place blends into one, and I can't remember any of it.
The house was beautiful and interesting, with the only real disappointment being that we weren't able to see the kitchens, only to read a tantalising display board about them. But the real fascination lay in the gardens. There were acres and acres of formal planting, sensory gardens, fountains and ponds, and a yew maze, which was mildly entertaining. And then we discovered the Kitchen Garden.
Vegetable and fruit gardening is hard to make interesting and attractive to look at, but at Chatsworth it was fascinating. Not only that, it was also quite encouraging - slugs had been at their swiss chard, for example, but was also a really good example of how a garden should be maintained - green manure was planted where a crop had been harvested, even if it was only a small space.
Another area which was lovely to look at was the cottage garden - literally, a smaller space, bigger than my entire garden, but not much bigger, had been planted as a cottage garden. What was very interesting here was how the colours had been used - with the purple and blue-toned flowers were the purple cabbages, the black kale, and the darker vegetables. The bright chard had been sown alongside marigolds and nasturtiums. Very interesting.