Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Time off for (good) behaviour

After a long run of plant fairs and sales, we had a free weekend in the middle of May, allowing us to catch up with things and to have a day out. Back in March, we went to Alfriston, to look at the Clergy House, and have lunch at the Cricketer’s Arms in Berwick. On Saturday, we retraced our steps to the Cricketers, and thence to Charleston Farmhouse in Firle, with its long association with the Bloomsbury set. I hadn’t actually realised that it wasn’t Virginia Woolf’s house, but that of her sister and her extended family. Being of a conventional nature, one rather admires the chaotic yet highminded lifestyle.
A hot afternoon, we were kindly guided to a shady parking space in the old farmyard in honour of the dogs, who joined us on a wander up towards Firle Beacon through fine Sussex farmland. Back at the farmhouse, it was Festival time: a marquee full of polite applause as some literary figure opined sagely. Tea was taken in a wildish orchard, overlooked by a redbrick sphinx peering out of a bush.The garden was delightful, a blue riot rapidly reaching its peak. Some interesting plants, including a small mauve allium, and an electric blue anemone that I didn’t recognise. Big bold clumps of plants with the dignity of long tenure.
We enjoyed our tour round the house:the decoration, startling at first, tied the building to its time and inhabitants :so different to the lives and tastes of middle class opinion.European and outward looking, yet, in its general dottiness, English.
As a counter to all this, I spent half a day in Surrey on a speed awareness course, having fallen foul of a speed camera on the A23 back in the winter.
A full weekend of plant selling ahead:Horsmonden Farmers Market on Friday, a return to High Beeches on Saturday, followed by Finchcocks’ Garden and Jazz Festival on Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday.

The wonderful garden at Charleston.


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