Monday, 25 May 2015

Emmetts Garden

I get very, very nervous around National Trust gardens. I'm worried that one day I will let my guard down and they will brainwash me into thinking that I am capable of creating a wondrous outdoor space. I am absolutely not capable of creating a wondrous outdoor space. I am not capable of this AT ALL. 

But I needn't have worried about Emmetts Garden in Kent. It has something for everyone. It has space to play games if you're that way inclined, it has woodland walks, it has areas like the Rose Garden where it is very clear what type of plants you are looking at so you don't feel like a dunderhead for not recognising anything. And the Rock Garden is very nice:


Emmetts Garden Rock Garden

There's also a pinetum. The National Trust has given me many things in the two years since I joined it, but the word 'pinetum' must be in the top three. Unfortunately, it's very hard to take pictures of a pinetum - my photos mainly show a spindly Christmas tree so I'll just leave that to your imagination.

Emmetts started life as a farmstead. The house was built in 1860 and in 1890 it was bought by Frederick Lubbock and his wife, Catherine. 

Frederick transformed the gardens at Emmetts, following the design principles of Gertrude Jekyll and William Robinson. Frederick's style of informal planting can still be seen today. 

Emmetts Garden

From 1928, Emmetts was owned by Charles Watson Boise and his wife. He bequeathed it to the National Trust in 1964.

I bought a guidebook at Emmetts today wondering how they were going to fill 32 pages without a house to talk about. But it turned out to be guidebook gold, containing really interesting background information on Victorian plant-hunting and some startling facts:

  • Amets or Emmetts derives from the Old English word for ants and may have referred to the "abundance" of ant colonies in the area! Probably just as well I didn't know this before we set off.
  • A Room with a View was filmed at Emmetts Garden! Not the bits in Florence, obviously.
  • Frederick Lubbock's brother, John, invented the Bank Holiday! Good man! And what an apt occasion for me to be visiting.
  • John loved insects and once took a tame wasp to the Pyrenees by train.
I told you: National Trust guidebook gold.

Anyway, let's move on to other golden matters. If there were such a thing as Scone Vogue and if I were editor of it, then I would be heralding the 2015 Spring-Summer scone trend as 'well-fired'. Today's scones at Emmetts Garden had definitely enjoyed a longer-than-average stay in the oven, as had the scones at Studland Beach last week. This, in my book, constitutes a trend.

And I have to say; it's a risky scone strategy. A fresh scone usually tastes nice whether it's well-baked or not. But a well-baked scone that's 2+ days old is usually a horror story involving a dental bill. 

But for the second week running, my concerns were misplaced. The Emmetts scones were really, really tasty, just like the Studland scone. I came close to awarding a 5 out of 5 but they were just a touch on the dry side, so it's a 4.5. But very enjoyable.

Emmetts Garden Scones

So a successful mission all round - delicious scones and I didn't come home with a car-boot full of azaleas. 

Emmetts Garden: 4 out of 5
Scones: 4.5 out of 5
Bonus points for reminding me of the most excellent word 'pinetum': 5 out of 5

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