Thursday 12 August 2010
Wild Glyndebourne, civic Lewes
Don't know what the current Glyndebourne head gardener has been up to, turfing over bits of herbaceous border, pulling up the roses and thinning out the planting. But where nature is left to run its course, parts of the Glyndebourne grounds have never looked better.
Meadow zones are the new gardening black, of course, and there are more of them towards the east end of the lake where we usually set up our picnic (can't recommend too strongly, by the way, that you go to Bill's fabulous deli emporium in Lewes and get yourself one of their £11 boxes - superb salads, best quiche, fruit cocktail-drink, cake). The trees, of course, look more glorious than ever swaying in the wind on the other side
and the north walk can be especially magical in the late afternoon light, if it's sunny, which it was on Sunday and most of Monday.
The border I still approve is the one that runs alongside the organ room and house. Here there's a buddleia of an almost phosphorescent lilac.
More formal and blowsy in effect are the plantings in the council-owned Southover Grange Gardens of Lewes, one of several places I saw for the first time following a Tom Paine trail (he played bowls on what's supposed to be the oldest green in the country, pictured up top and another area I'd overlooked on a previous trip to the castle). To celebrate the diplo-mate's birthday, we stayed for once in a hotel - Pelham House. Pricey, but worth it, because here are idiosyncrasy and a real link to the civic fibre of the town, appropriate since the council once held court in the newer wing. Our room was decorated with images from the covers of the excellent free Viva Lewes magazine, and the hallways had plenty of town images from talented local printmakers. The jewel is the hallway ceiling painted by Cressida's brother Julian Bell, a trompe-l'oeil tightrope walk which reminds me of those Moscow metro friezes.
All this ties us more closely to the place, though I've learned one thing: not to think of buying a house on the lovely south slopes of the town, could we afford it, as the noise of the nearby A27 is all too apparent. Better to think of being up the hill to the north, where Glyndebourne education dynamo Katie Tearle and husband, that incredibly knowledgeable and flavoursome music writer Mark Pappenheim, live. We popped in for coffee and to see Mark's bees, which were buzzing around rather frenetically. He's full of apine wisdom and presented us with some honeycomb from this year's relatively rich takings.