What good fortune, a sunny day! Perfect for the Mapperley Park Open Gardens day. A group of gardens open for charity once every two years and it’s an event I’d been looking forward to. Jill was waiting for me at the start of the afternoon and I think we did pretty well to take in 13 of the 14 gardens on show. It was a smorgasbord of houses and gardens on show. From the oldest; a grade 2 gothic revival house (1874) to a 1960’s build.
Mapperly Park is quite varied, from the reasonably flat walk to the quite strenuous uphill brisk walk. We decided on meander around the route, plotting to have the champagne and strawberry stop at the start to the Pimms finale. We took a slight deviation in the middle to avoid bumping into the same people on the well trod march around the streets.
Our trail started on Mapperley Road at Malvern House (1874) and The Lodge House (1876). Malvern House had become a work in progress when the owners brought it. The previous owners had been the Coal Board and it had been used as offices. The garden was amazing. It had once been a car park, but skip after skip of Norfolk soil and lots of sweat and TLC had transformed it into an ornamental garden, organic fruit and vegetable plot with a cute little greenhouse. The highest house on the trail (just down the road after all is the Rock Cemetery and the once infamous Forest Road) the view over Mapperley Park was superb. Next door the Lodge House had a garden on more levels with a secret garden, summer house and pond.
We were getting into the swing of it and it was time to descend into the Park to a more modern house (1929) The owners were in the process of renovating this property back to a more authentic style yet the garden was contemporary with a multi-terraced garden designed for al fresco eating with a recycled glass tile waterfall and a little bar. Strawberries and champagne were on offer; the sun came out, what’s a girl to do? All proceeds to charity, it would have been a sin not to sit down and enjoy the moment. Alas, time was ticking by albeit in a gentle bubbly way but we needed to knock a few more gardens off.
Walled gardens, ponds, little paths, follies, courtyard garden, terraces vegetable garden, Art deco renovation. This is where I got the chance to take a photo. It was the middle of the afternoon and it was getting busy, but leaden skies seemed to thin the throng out.
Rain hat at the ready, but eventually not needed, the sun returned as we arrived at the flattest garden in the park, a half acre of it! Fantastic manicured lawns, I expected Roger Federer to come strolling out of the garage. Not that he would be out of place as there are two tennis clubs in the park (Who knew?) Cream teas were a go go here. Not a seat to be had though so the gorgeous Victoria sponge cake had to go begging. Parting from it was not a very sweet sorrow.
Now it was on to the Edwardian properties on Mapperley Hall Drive. The first one had a sylvan setting with a spinney as a backdrop. Mostly planted for wildlife it was rather charming and the owners had discovered a little air raid shelter whilst making over the garden. Dug deep it looked a little intimidating, all corrugated steel and stiff upper lip, but secure enough to shelter from falling ordnance.
We were ready now for the steepest climb to the biggest garden, a full one acre. Lawns, water features, fruit and veg, a woodland walk. Quite boggling really and the sun was still out, it was beginning to feel like a real Sunday summer afternoon.
Our planned Pimms finale was looming into sight so we briskly walked down back the hill to two Edwardian town houses. Again on levels but with architectural features, a summer house and an ornamental pond. The Pimms gazebo had been pitched on the front lawn, sanctuary. “You are in luck” said the owner, “I’ve had to send my husband out twice for fresh supplies” There did appear to be rather a lot of spent Pimms bottles under the table. Thirsty work this garden trail especially with the sun out. Jill suggested that the housework could wait, after all rain was predicted for Monday, we should seize this sunny moment. I didn’t have the energy to disagree as I was focused on lifting my glass of Pimms. Donating to charity never tasted so good.
It had been a really pleasant and interesting afternoon. Lots of people had joined in, but somehow we were quite well spaced out so nowhere was especially crowded. It really was a different world. Difficult to believe that we were at times only a mile from the centre of Nottingham and just yards from the busy Mansfield road. It was all very peaceful and very colourful. A different world, usually out of my reach but it was mine to share for the afternoon. The sunshine made it of course, oh and the refreshments. Cheers!