Friday 10 July 2009


Dahlias, eh? 

Last night I was sitting out in the gardens here in Cambridge at dusk and I saw this great big shape scuttle across the garden. At first I thought it was a rat, and then I suddenly realised its hips were too big. It was a hedgehog, racing along, undulating over the lawns. Sniffing. 

Anyway that made me laugh. 

The funny thing about Cambridge gardens is that they are all behind great big tall hedges and fierce iron gates and wooden structures that stop you looking in. I saw one gentleman being politely directed away from King's Fellows Garden yesterday and then I realised it was Ian McEwan. What about that? Even he isn't allowed in. 

So you spend your whole time peeping over things and round things to try and get a view. And even then it's just a tantalising one, with no sense of the whole perspective, just leaving you with a rather disappointed feeling and a bit of a cricked neck. To be honest, a bit like Chelsea show gardens. 

Anyway this is the kind of thing you are faced with: immaculate herbaceous borders behind tempting walls with delicious skyline scenery, but no way in. 

(this is a tiny glimpse of the much-loved Clare College Scholars' garden, thought to be one of the best)

Anyway it was pissing me off, so instead of showing you lots of awkward views of halves of gardens, I posted the dahlias, from John Brookes' Denmans. Which don't hide their love away at all. Which is how I like it. 


VP said...

Or you could just direct them over to my friend's place for a better view. She managed to get into the Fellows garden too...

I got caught up in a traffic jam in Hulavington (v. small village near here) on Tuesday afternoon. We had to wait for a hedgehog to cross the road.

Have a great weekend - I'm coming to London on Sunday!

Simon said...

"Anyway it was pissing me off.." Nice one Emma, good to see you're still here.

colleen said...

Guess I'm a dahlia girl myself too.

Helen/patientgardener said...

Very fustrating. Do they have special days when they open the gardens like the law temples so in London?

LittleGreenFingers said...

I have visited a few, but it was always dark and I was, almost always, the wrong side of squiffy so hardly conducive to garden contemplation.

Maybe Ian McEwan should consider this course of action.

Martyn Cox said...

I interviewed a lovely lady recently who said 'if you have a precious jewel, you shouldn't hide it away in a box' - she could have been talking about a Cambridge garden, although of course they're behind walls, hedges etc and not in a box, but you know what I mean.

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

There should be a law against that sort of thing Emma, no wonder it was pissing you off, would do me too.

It's very different here, where people leave the curtains open at night so that everybody can see their new settee. Or something. And they don't mind who sees their garden either.

Juliet said...

Quite a few are opening for the NGS now (including your namesake, Emma*) - there's a list of Cambridge ones here which includes a lot of the college ones which are normally closed to the public.

Opening them all the time would be a bit like having a public footpath through your back garden though, for the people who live in the colleges. Then you'd end up with the sort of thing that happened to someone I knew when I was a student - he was walking across the quad from his room to the bathroom, dressed only in a towel, when a complete stranger took a photo of him :o

*Emma obviously knows this, but for non Cambridge people, Emmanuel college is affectionately known as Emma.

Helen/patientgardener said...

I was wondering if the Emmsworth Show was going to be on this year or whether it has succumbed tothe credit crunch, swine flu and rubbish weather??!!!!