AGM Waterperry Gardens - 9 August 2002

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Driving to Waterperry for the 5th South Chilterns Group AGM was a dark, wet experience.  All the cars from Oxford had their headlights on and it looked extremely black.  However there was a little ray of sunshine to the East and luckily that was the way we were going.  We arrived at the Gardens of Waterperry and it was a pleasant evening.  Although there was a lot of blackness in the distance.

Everyone gathered round Steve who was to lead us on our tour around the grounds of Waterperry.  The house and grounds are now owned by the Economic and Political Science Group, but there is an agreement with Waterperry Ltd for them to use the grounds for trials and to maintain the beautiful gardens.

The walk led us through the garden centre area with over 800 different varieties of plants for sale and then to the dry garden, which is protected by a wall and also is on a slope so that it drains well.

The Dry Garden

We then passed through the arch of the dry stone wall towards the long herbaceous border.  This border is truly herbaceous and dies down totally in winter.  It has no shrubs in it.  It is cleverly contructed by height, with some plants dying down allowing others to take their place. 

The Herbaceous Border

At the end of the border we came to an area that had very pale eryngium called Miss Wilmott's Ghost.  These seeded all around and the first year just have green leaves, the second year they produce silver coloured leaves which look quite eerie, the ghost of the green plant.

Steve surrounded by Miss Willmott's Ghost

We then walked along another beautiful herbaceous border and by island beds which had a lot more modern air about them, this was a different form of planting, as it was necessary for all sides of the plant to be on show rather than being viewed from the front. An extra feature were many sculptures around the gardens, as a travelling Zimbabwe exhibition was currently exhibiting at Waterperry.  Some were really beautiful, while others were quite thought provoking.

The Island Beds

Further along we reached the Mediterranean Garden which is a recently added feature to Waterperry and had only just been planted when we visited the gardens three years previously for our AGM.  In spit of it being relatively new, it was starting to develop beautifully.

The Mediterranean Garden

We then made our way past the water feature which was 2'6" deep and contained lilies discarded by Wisley.  Everyone wondered at the reason for the cost of water lilies in nurseries, as they seemed to grow incredibly strongly and everyone seemed to have to throw a lot away when clearing out their ponds.

The Water Feature

We then moved round through more island beds with beautifully coloured phlox and also trial gardens and areas that had been left fallow. They are left unplanted and are treated with weedkillers about three times during the year to make certain that all pernicious weeds have been killed.  We then entered a garden which covered several ages from the Elizabethan knot garden through to the present day.  The main feature of the garden was a statue of a young girl which had been done by one of the students at Waterperry House. She had used two models for it, so that neither would feel that they were isolated within the statue.

Statue of a Young Girl in the Garden of Different Ages

Our final stop was the Rose Garden.  This was dominated by a circular dome, which had been constructed about ten years ago from green oak.  Unfortunately it was in a rather sorry state and would probably have to be taken down. It was surrounded by every sort of rose imaginable and had probably served its usefulness, as the roses had grown in size and did not need it there any more.

The Rose Garden

We had now reached the end of our tour.  The skies were getting blacker and blacker and thunder could be heard in the distance.  The group decided to have a quick look at the Church which had been left open for us before starting the AGM. We then all sat down for a cup of coffee and the skies opened. 

Everyone agreed that they had thoroughly enjoyed themselves and a vote of thanks was given to Helen Turner for organising yet another extremely enjoyable event.