In 1890, Sir Harry Waechter, helped by Gauntletts of Chiddingfold, laid out a garden. It became home to Japanese plants, ornaments, bamboo, azaleas, maples, etc, etc. Then, in 1922, Sir Henry and Lady Norman bought the place and moved in. They introduced a lot of the rhododendrons and azaleas, something they were really fond of. In fact, her ladyship used to cross various types to create ever more spectacular variations.
100 years later, their great grandchildren now live and work at Ramster.
We visited Ramster back in 2011 when Mirinda claimed it was the best garden she’d ever visited. Strange, then, that she didn’t remember it very well.
We went today to see the gardens and, as a special treat, to look at a whole load of sculptures for sale. In fact, there were 104, dotted around various parts of the garden, some with sold stickers, most without.
One of my favourites was The Bird Man by Allan Mackenzie. He enigmatically stands atop a copper pipe, holding a bird on his hand, another on his hat, looking almost Kafkaesque.
We spent a lovely couple of hours wandering along the various paths, stopping occasionally to sit and admire the views. Actually, at one ‘viewpoint’ we sat on some chopped logs that looked inviting. Mirinda was fine, Emma managed to tumble one log onto her lead and I dramatically rolled off mine and was left sprawled on the ground. I managed to scramble back up, more concerned with the people just behind us, who I assumed would rush over to help me. They didn’t.
A little more dramatic than the pile of chopped logs, was the amazing dragon bench which was made to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the family moving in. We had a sit down, comforted by the dragon’s coils, and admired the centenary garden directly opposite, as people came and went.
As we reached the dragon bench, a couple and a small child were there. The couple were getting the kid to pose with the dragon. She was fine with the coils but was very wary of the head. When asked to pose next to the head, she stood about three feet away, refusing to approach any closer. I guess it does look a bit fearsome.
Mirinda thought it looked like Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug.
Actually, there were a lot of people visiting though, because Ramster is so big, it didn’t feel at all crowded. And the gardens are so beautiful, everyone had smiles on their faces.
Something else that brought smiles to faces was the work of Victoria Hunt. She takes various bits of cutlery and fashions amazing forms. Storm in a Teacup was our favourite. We were sorely tempted to buy it. Fortunately, it already had sold stickers on it.
Having wandered right round, we settled into chairs behind the café for tea/coffee and ham and cheese sandwiches on granary, which were delicious. Of course, that could be because it’s the first time I have bread since the last time we visited Pulpo Negro.
All up, a wonderful way to spend a bank holiday.