Hyde Hall began life as a family farm which was later donated to the RHS after the horticultural interest of the family became so popular that it was too much for them to manage. The gardens retain the charm of the original house and farm buildings, pay tribute to the original inspiration of the planting and now also include a wide range of cleverly designed projects and vistas.Hyde Hall began life as a family farm which was later donated to the RHS after the horticultural interest of the family became so popular that it was too much for them to manage. The gardens retain the charm of the original house and farm buildings, pay tribute to the original inspiration of the planting and now also include a wide range of cleverly designed projects and vistas.

During our tour we were shown the Dry Garden in which there is a dry river valley that will only flow when the rainwater, collected from the café roof, overflows its underground storage tank to fill the channel and run on down to a lake at the foot of the gardens. The dry garden does not receive any additional watering or management beyond minor clearing to prevent too much self-seeding. I was very interested to see how many plants thriving there are current regular favourites, giving me hope that in a drying climate all is not lost in our own gardens.

To contrast with the very dry, another area we visited was the site of one of the three farm ponds listed in the Domesday Book of 1086. Here there is a small spring and in order to provide it with protection while creating an interesting planting, a gabion wall encloses a wonderful and secret space which, when you walk through it, definitely enjoys its own cool, damp microclimate.

Walking through the more formal rose gardens and colourful summer perennial garden ‘rooms’ each divided by clipped hedges, we continued our tour with a visit to Floral Fantasia, currently featuring an impressive Calendula trial garden which is the brainchild of Peter Seabrook MBE. Finally, through the newly established orchard and hop garden to the global vegetable area featuring a mass of intriguing cultivation challenges including chickpeas and lentils.

With just enough time for a circuit of the garden centre, shop and to buy an ice cream, we gathered together (with plant purchases!) to return home. Due to traffic closures, we were also treated to travelling a complete loop of the M25 (northern route there with southern back) and to crossing the QE2 bridge, an unexpectedly stunning vista in the late afternoon sun.

This was a most enjoyable and inspiring day out after a very long break, and I look forward to seeing members and friends again for our 2022 garden visits, which will be announced soon.

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