Horti Trip 2012

Last years visit was no exception and we all had a truly great and memorable time. We 'crossed the border at Watford' and headed North towards Stoke on Trent. Our first port of call was Ryton Organic Gardens. Despite slightly inclement conditions (well, come on, we are talking 'the North here') we all collected ideas and then mulled them over, whilst enjoying our coffees.

From here we headed further North and stopped at Mosely Old Hall. A paradise for historians, with wonderful guides. The gardens, too, provided us with interesting observations. Of course, we don’t go wanting on the catering side and the National Trust Café, despite our numbers, did us proud.

It was an hour and a half’s drive to our hotel at Stoke on Trent, which true to form looked after us superbly. There was a whisper of concern when it was realized two wedding parties were taking place but we wouldn’t have known abou them, such was our accommodation and dining arrangements , had we not seen the brides.

The following morning we set off for Trentham Gardens, a mere stone’s throw away. The weather was beautiful with everyone in high spirits (not to be confused nwith hangovers!) The gardens lived up to all our expectations and beyond. It offered a walk round around a lake, with an option to emulate Tarzan on the treetop rope paths area, much discussion followed but I think the feeling was we’d run out of time!!!!! ( and if you believe that, you really have our measure).

An amazing Italian Garden and vast areas of horticultural splendour were all there for us to enjoy at leisure. A small shopping area for those in need of retail therapy was also available. The café had unfortunately, had an odd queuing arrangement which necessitated an incredibly long time for the waiter to arrive and who appeared to need a GPS to find our table. Still, it was worth waiting for – just as well we had not decided to swing through the trees earlier!

Our next stop was Biddulph Grange. What a beautiful garden! The sun shone through the resplendent rhododendrons making us gasp at their beauty. The Victorian garden was yet another stunning picture for the horticulturalist to absorb. The collection of plants took us through Italy, Egypt, the Himalayas and China.

Lunch was enjoyed outside in the glorious sunshine. There was a slight hiccup on the cream tea front later, but we are all stalwarts and made do with what was on offer, and besides we had a good dinner to which to look forward.

The following day found us at Shugborough and although the weather wasn’t particularly good, we had plenty to see and do. The ancestral home of the Earls of Lichfield had costumed characters available to answer our questions which made the tour of this Georgian Mansion fascinating. A walled garden, restored of late, grows historic varieties of vegetables and fruit.

The Birmingham Botanical Gardens came after our visit to Shugborough, making a convenient stop on our way home. By now it really was wet but nothing dampens our spirits. Suitably clad, clutching brollies we ventured forth and admired in detail what wonders the gardens had to offer.

A wonderful tea room with cream teas a plenty topped off the day and indeed the whole weekend.

Tempted to join us? What are you waiting for!