Saturday, 13 July 2019

Part 2 Westbury Court Garden & the River Severn


To learn more about Westbury Court Garden and it's history see Part 1. 



The first pineapple to reach Europe arrived on a ship sailed by Columbus in 1496. From that moment the pineapple became a fruit of legend, highly prized and beyond the reach of everyone but royalty. The cult of pineapples grew, it became a familiar motif of both baroque and Neo-Classical architecture representing wealth and good taste.
Acanthus plants were in flower creating a juxtaposition
with the Acanthus leaves on the pillars to the garden pavilion.
The symbolism and meaning associated with the Acanthus leaf is that of enduring life. 
Planted in 1638 a huge Liridendron tulipifera was showing off it's distinctive tulip shaped flowers.

A wooden bridge over a tributary leads from the garden affording a way down to the River Severn itself.
The pathway skirts around the edge of newly mown hay meadows, whose sweet fragrance was attracting dozens of dancing butterflies.
Small Tortoiseshell - Aglais urticae
In the hedgerows the future blackberry harvest showed signs of being bountiful.

The mighty River Severn. 
Here the Severn has cut through the hillside to form a cliff exposing layers of Triassic white and red marl, and fragments of Ichthyosaurs fossils. 
Rising in the Welsh Cambrian Mountains, the River Severn is the longest river in Britain.
It flows in a semi-circular route through the Welsh county of Powys and the English counties of Shropshire, Worcestershire and finally Gloucestershire.
At it's widest the estuary is 30 miles wide forming a physical boundary between England and Wales - in medieval days it was known as The Severn Sea. It's journey continues through the Bristol Channel until it finally joins the North Atlantic Ocean. 
The Gloucestershire section of the river is tidal and regularly experiences tidal ranges of up to 15 metres (49 feet). The world's largest tidal range of 16.3 metres (53.5) occurs in the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia, Canada, which incidentally I saw whilst on a visit there in the early 1990s.
The incoming tide on the River Severn also creates a natural phenomenon 'the Severn Bore'. There are 60 bore locations around the world the Severn Bore is the second highest. The highest being in China.
The bore is an exciting event for both onlookers and surfers.
The largest bores are classed as 5* and
there are only two due for the rest of this year on the 29th and 30th September. However, both are scheduled to arrive during the late evening at around 21.30 - 22.45 hours. 
Unfortunately 'bores' tend to arrive either early in the morning or late at night. 
courtesy quintinlake

35 comments:

  1. As far as pineapples go, William Beckford went one better on his house here in Bath. He had a pair of pineapple finials made from aluminium, which was then a newly discovered metal which was so difficult to extract from bauxite that it was almost as expensive as gold.

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    1. Are they still at the property?

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    2. Yes. They are on a connecting arch at Lansdown Crescent.

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    3. I will take a look next time I am in Bath.

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  2. I can just smell all that newly mown hay -- heavenly! Cool info about pineapples too.

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    1. I find the smell of newly mown hay very evocative - it takes me back into my childhood.

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  3. That was a bit of a trip down memory lane for me- I once did an article about the OS Map on which that garden can be found. I found enough just on the old 1:50,000 map to keep me busy for a whole week - it was a very interesting area.

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    1. Have you ever managed to visit the garden? If not, I am sure that you would enjoy it.

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  4. Hello Rosemary, Westbury Court's gardens are remarkable, but in this post, it is the river Severn that captures center stage. The natural history it reveals and the Severn bores are fascinating, and the large tides mean that it is probably prime ground for "mud-larking," although I would be sure to obey all rules and cautions.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - here is a very interesting BBC article that you might like to read about some of the finds that have been discovered in the Severn Estuary mud.
      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-20914482

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  5. A beautiful area, especially the gardens.

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  6. Dearest Rosemary,
    What a lovely sequel of the first part about Westbury Court Garden and this very special River Severn!
    That garden is so meticulously maintained, one wonders who finds the time and personnel for doing so.
    But, how dare you show my favorite red currents here to make me mouth water?
    In our hot climate here they're not available at all and luckily I ate some at my best friend's garden in The Netherlands.
    Great photo of them.
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - The garden is only maintained by one full-time gardner - a young girl who was working whilst we were there, two part-timers, and several volunteers. Glad you had the chance to enjoy some red currents whilst you were over in The Netherlands, I am rather partial to the black ones cooked and topped with ice cream.

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    2. WOW, those are excellent gardeners and work diligently. It looks so picture perfect and tidy!
      Thanks for your interesting reply dearest Rosemary 💛

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  7. Cracking post. The Central Belt has an entire large building sculpted into a 40 foot high pineapple. I prefer tins to fresh pineapple though these days as fresh pineapples, if you eat too much at one go, and forget to wash your mouth out afterwards can make gums bleed. Something I found out backpacking with no access to water for several hours so must be strong citrus acid in them that's diluted in tins. River Severn is a national gem.

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    1. I have had a desire to visit the Pineapple in Dunmore for many years now, and hopefully I might just get there one of these day.

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  8. Interesting about the bores.
    Lovely place and there is just something about water in a garden that makes it.

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    1. Bores are really very exciting to see. I have seen several, but mostly in the early morning. Crowds always turn up from far and wide to watch.

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  9. It looks a wonderful place to visit. I often wonder if people who have pineapples on their gateposts know how they came to be there. "Acanthus" - I've been trying to remember that word most of my life; I seem to always forget it a day or so after hearing it and can never retrieve it from my addled brain!

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    1. Sometimes I suffer from the same problem - I say to myself Agapanthus knowing that it's incorrect, but immediately I do that it is retrieved from wherever it was lurking.

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  10. Such wonderful photos! The nobility certainly loved their pineapple and acanthus carvings. We're so fortunate to live in a country with such a wonderful and varied history and such amazing AONB. Everywhere you go on our 'small island' there is something beautiful to see and wonder at. Best, Jane x

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    1. You could visit somewhere everyday of your life and still barely touch what is on offer here.

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  11. What amazing information about the River Severn, all new to me. I did not know it was the biggest river, or so wide and so actively tidal. The bores sound fascinating. Pineapple and acanthus are always very appealing in architecture. We like to think Queensland is the natural home of pineapples these days, but it appears they grow happily in much cooler climates too.

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    1. I recall seeing fields of pineapples in Sri Lanka last year - hope all is well with you Patricia.

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  12. I enjoyed the beautiful greens in the pictures. How interesting about the river. I have never heard of one that wide. I also had never heard of a bore....had to look that one up.

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    1. If you ever get the opportunity to see and experience a 'bore' then it is well worth doing so. They make for a very exciting naturally event for onlookers.

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  13. Beautiful photos.
    www.rsrue.blogspot.com

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  14. A very interesting follow up post, Rosemary. Thanks for explaining the reason for the use of Pineapples and Acanthus leaves as decorative additions.
    I have seen the Severn River from the Yat Rock in that beautiful setting. How interesting to read about, and view the Sky News video of the bore wave coming down the river at such speed. Must be exciting for the surfers.

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    1. It is a lovely spot viewing the River Severn via Yat Rock. You can really understand and see the way that it weaves its way through the three English counties down from Wales.
      I am pleased that you found a video to see the Bore. It is a very strange experience to have for the first time even standing on the bank. You can actually hear it coming before you see it, and sometimes it splashes over the bank or throws up lots of spray. When you stand on the bank before it arrives the drop down to the river is about 10ft or more, but once the Bore has past by the water in the river is then almost as high as the bank.

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  15. The second part of Westbury Court Gardens is just as interesting as the first. That long line of water is lovely. I found it interesting to learn that pineapples were grown in glasshouses in England as a means of showing off wealth. The Severn and the Bay of Fundy have enormous tides!

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    1. I was fortunate to see the high tide in the Bay of Fundy, is simply coincidence that we just happened to be there when it happened whilst we were travelling around Nova Scotia.

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  16. Dear Rosemary - again, what can I say about this truly beautiful place, it's just so lovely and your photos amazing. I can smell the fresh cut hay and I want to grow acanthus. A neighbor gave me a pineapple plant with a pineapple - just transferred it to a larger pot and staked it as it's falling over!

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    1. Dear Mary - I grow Acanthus but have them in a shady spot. I think that they would be happy with you but perhaps also in a shady spot.
      I shall look forward to seeing and hearing how your pineapple plant progresses.

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