This is a particularly good year for tulips, so I took a detour on the way home from Woolbeding to visit the gardens of Arundel Castle – in particular the Collector Earl’s Garden – which, like the picturesque garden at Woolbeding, is another Bannerman creation. It is an extraordinary place with structures and planting that manage to draw the eye away from the fairy tale turreted and crenelated castle and the looming Gothic cathedral, reducing them both to backdrops to the magnificent and rather bonkers recreation of a garden that the 14th Earl of Arundel created in London with Inigo Jones. It’s bonkers because it is so daring, so removed from current taste, and epic in the imaginations that have created it.
I love the crown that dances on a jet of water in the grotto, the perspectives through the pergolas, and the Stumpery that is new since I last visited. Having recently seen the film ‘A Little Chaos’ about the creation of one of the gardens at Versailles, it seems to me to have more connection with that garden than anything I might see at the Chelsea Flower Show. Oh, and the tulips are rather good too.
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