That was our Feline Expert, Buffy, communicating with you via the medium of sitting on the laptop and shuffling about. And now, on with the #wander.
Imagine a day full of drizzle. Sodden, grey, steely, and lots of other colourless adjectives also might describe the sky that glowered above as Ma Wombat and her trusty henchman (me) climbed into the Meriva and headed West.
"Aha!" I hear you thinking (for I am a psychic henchman), "I'll bet that on a miserable day like that, they weren't thinking of visiting a botanical garden!" But you would lose that bet, chummy, for that's exactly where we were headed - Ness Botanical Gardens in Cheshire, in point of fact. You owe me five pounds.
The Mighty Lord Of The M56 was smiling on us this day, for the motorway was uncluttered, and as we passed the strange alien constructs near Frodsham, a smiley-face of a sun coloured the whole world, and in particular, the sky. A lovely blue, it became. The sky, I mean, not the sun.
We were early enough at the gardens to choose where we parked ("Beneath a tree, beneath a tree! Keep the car cool!"), and were cheered up even as we entered by the presence of a Lambanana.
You can't make it out from the photo, but this particular lambanana had been planted inside with small climbers and trailing plants. I imagine quite soon that he will develop a greenish coat. If you've not come across lambananas before, Wiki will tell you a little bit about the lovely things if you click here -> Lambananas are groovy.
Ness Botanical Gardens are particularly beautiful, and full of well-cared for gorgeous plants, like this lacecap hydrangea -The gardens are laid out on the side of a hill facing the Dee Estuary, which means that quite often as we strolled around, we would wander past a trickling waterfall or a flight of old worn steps, and happen on a stunning vista like this one.One of my favourite things about the place are the hidden little treasures, which we might easily have missed had we stuck to the main pathways. But we are nosy creatures, attracted by the hidden, and curious about what might lie behind each bend or bush or wall. And so we discovered this little chap - can you guess what it is?Yes, it's a lambananasaurus, nestling amongst a stand of prehistoric-looking shrubs and plants with massive leaves. He was gazing out across a pond spread with mature water-lilies and bullrushes, towards what will be an impressive water-tumble. Once they get it built.
A short way on, Mary found this lovely little stone bridge - yes, that's water beneath her, though covered with plants and teeming with tiny silver fish.
By the bridge was a small hut, roofed with grasses, and providing by now welcome shade from the heat of the sun. We were alone in this quarter of the gardens, and we relaxed here for ten minutes, listening to the silence punctuated only by the wind and the birdsong, and the occasional small plop from the pool.Moving on, we discovered many cool things. This, for example, is black grass! Did you hear me? BLACK GRASS! BLACK!
Oh. and some pretty little daisy things behind.
And the sun shining through this Acer made such a gorgeous colour, I could scarce tear my eyes away. The photograph does it little justice; I wish I'd had the video camera with me to capture the movement and the breeze and the birds twirpling all around. Neither camera, however, could capture the extremely pleasing scents wafting all around. Here's another scene that pleased me.The white things, whose name I have completely forgotten, reminded me of a school of dolphins leaping out of the ocean, and here they are backed by the deepest of dark red leaves on that tree there. There, look. Look where I'm pointing. It should be clear by now that I love dark plants, and here's some more deep-red foliage, this time contrasted by some japanese trees with ghostly white bark.The bottom-most area of the gardens is given over to wildflowers - cornflower, poppy, and here a teasel spies on Mary as she investigates a carpet of white Queen Anne's Lace, also known as Mother Die, because if you brought it into the house, according to tradition, your mother would die. Not sure what was supposed to happen if she was already dead and you brought some in. Zombie Mum perhaps. Queen Anne's Lace is also called Wild Carrot. The flower is also used in ancient rituals and spells to increase potency and sexual desire in men. Wonder if it works for wombats?For more on this brilliant plant, including some groovy recipes, CLICK HERE.
Does anybody else think this tree looks like a squid-monster about to attack? No? Just me then...
By now a bag of nerves after our lucky escape from the squid-monster, we adjourned for lunch in the restaurant. Decent prices, tasty food, and look at Mary's ham sandwich! Look at the ham in that! I mean - bloody nora!Sadly, she would not allow me to photograph her amusing attempts to eat the thing. Me pasty was excellent, thanks for asking. What next - oh yes, the obligatory photograph of the sun shining through pampas grass -Oh, and this tree was fascinating!It is a type of Acer, and had bark like paper curling away from the trunk. It is called, with a distinct lack of imagination, a Paper Bark Acer. This next photo of a twisty cactus deserves an amusing caption, I'm sure, but you can probably come up with a better one than I ever could. So lets just admire it for a second, shall we?I've included this next shot of thistles because they reminded me of Jay and his Scottish roots, although I could have just included it because they are beautiful plants.We were about ready to go home by now, but still kept discovering new hidden delights, like this willow tunnel which is devouring the love of my life.And finally, just to show how crap I am at photography, I took twelve shots of a bee on a gorgeous red flower on the way out of the gardens. This, sadly, was the best of the lot.
So guys - Ness Botanical Gardens - its brilliant, and really worth a day out. There's a website which you can see if you click the name in the previous sentence, but its not wildly impressive.