Jo’s Monday walk : A Garden Extravaganza

This isn’t a walk so much as a wallow in flowers at an Open Garden event last weekend.  I did propose a walk to nearby Witton Castle, but ‘someone’ was feeling lazy, so we opted to loiter instead.  Hillside Cottages are in the quintessentially English village of Low Etherley, a few miles from Bishop Auckland, in County Durham.  A look over the garden wall will show you the lie of the land.  Calm and pastoral.

I love nosing around a garden.  My plant knowledge isn’t huge, but I do enjoy identifying a friend or two.  Small explosions of colour lure me into the borders.  Rich plum, ‘poke you in the eye’ orange and soft pink mingle with the green.

There are two gardens, side by side, quite different yet so harmonious that the division between them is little more than a gap in the adjoining hedge, which I initially fail to spot.  The first swathes gently down the hillside, beds and borders speckled with colour.  The lady owner is obviously a lover of tulips, with all their nuances, subtle or flaunted.  Poker straight or curling seductively.

I can hear the sound of pipes, and rounding a corner I come upon the culprits.  I don’t pay them the attention that I should, because I am beguiled by the rhododendrons.  In the most glorious colours, the sun sparkles through them, bathing me in radiance.

This is the very best time of year, and life burgeons all around me.  I almost miss the delicate lemon magnolia, opening to the sun’s caress, high above my head.  Tea is brewing, alongside an array of homemade cakes, but first we must round the pond and slip through the fence to next door.

A sense of humour prevails in next door’s garden, where another pond winks at me in the sunlight.

This garden feels much more enclosed, and you wander beneath tall pines, seeking out quirks and fantasies.  By a summerhouse the owner lounges benevolently in a deck chair, chatting to some older ladies.  Probably they supervised the baking.

Don’t you just love the dog’s expression?  And what might these two gardens have in common?  Wait for it…

Scintillating rhododendrons, of course!  I’ve never been able to resist them.  I hope you didn’t mind me taking it easy this week.  This is the time of year when traditionally I share a few gardens with you.  I have a much more energetic one lined up for next week.

Wait a moment, I can hear you saying… what happened to the cake?  I can assure you that my rhubarb cake was moist and delicious, but there were no seats left, so I had to eat it perched upon a wall.  Not conditions that are compatible with cake photography.  Sorry!

Join me next time on Jo’s Monday walk?  It will be a Bank Holiday in the UK, but I’ll still be out and about.  After that I’ll be taking a break for my visit to Poland.  Many thanks to you all for your walks and for your great company.


Although I’m a sun worshipper, I love a moody sky. Enjoy a cliff top walk with Suzanne :

Standing vertical in the storm

Jackie never needs any encouragement to eat and drink.  Join her for a cuppa?

Coffee Break

I’m offered all kinds of walks.  Janet has some beautiful sculptures to share :

Monday walk… sculpture in old Scottsdale

And Drake, often one to surprise, takes us to a tobacco museum!

Smoke in the mountain

Adventures in sand, water and caves with Liesbet.  This lady likes variety :

Highlights in Southern New Mexico – A Long Weekend Away

Or take a stroll with Pauline and Jack.  They make such delightful company :

Out and about in Stanthorpe…

And speaking of delightful, a certain Mrs. Farrell has been busy on our behalf :

Following in the Footsteps of the Green Man

Denzil offers easy walking, not far from Brussels.  Sounds good to me :

A walk around Leefdaal

It’s surprising what you can do, if you really try.  Georgie was walking in a good cause :

Walking the Wight – how I walked 15 miles…

Meanwhile Eunice has taken a leaf out of my book this week, with a really beautiful Open Garden :

Hornby Castle Gardens

Finally, an Australian Autumn, where Rosemay finds what it takes to tire the grandbairn out :

Autumn at Araluen

Yet another lovely morning here!  I’m starting to take it for granted.  Let’s see if it holds for the Bank Holiday.  Meantime, have fun, and take care.  See you next week!


  1. Beautiful colors and photos as always, Jo. Nice gardens to stroll, sit and reflect. 🙂 Thank you for posting my link as well!!! I”m way behind on blog reading, as I’m back on the road full-time and internet (and data) are not so easy to get in some areas of this country.


    1. No worries, Liesbet. It’s not easy to keep up at the best of times. 🙂 🙂 Monday’s walk will be my last for a while so you’ll not need to look for me. Thanks!


    1. That sounds extremely painful, Eunice. Kettle? You don’t have much luck sometimes. Hope you’re having a relaxing Bank Hol. Yesterday was glorious here. 🙂


  2. It may have been a shorter walk, but it was lovely! The flowers are magnificent and so are the photos of them. Don’t you love the burst of color and life in spring!


    1. Full on colour and everything bursting into bloom! It’s wonderful, Patti 🙂 🙂 I’ll visit you later. Only caught a glimpse of your post on my phone. Out watching hot air balloons this afternoon and I need to get on with tomorrow’s walk or it won’t happen. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh wow!!!! Those Rhododendrons are amazing. This has brought back many happy memories as working as a gardener for the National Trust!!! It truly is a fantastic time of year!!!


    1. Did you? Where? That must have been a great job! My husband designs gardens professionally so we’re always having a busman’s holiday. We were at Cragside in Northumberland yesterday and it was fabulous. 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was blessed to work on St Michaels Mount for 4 years while I was doing my ND horticulture. I was at Trengwainton Garden for 2 years aswell. I also did a brief spell at Godolphn and Eat Pool Mine. I know the whole of the West Cornwall portfolio very well indeed! Such plant diversity in a beautiful spot of the country. If you get the chance do visit if just for the coastal path and gardens!!!


  4. Incredible photographs and gardens. This is my first time here and as soon as I finish my comment I will click on the ‘follow’ button.


  5. It’s a garden extravaganza, certainly! What a riot of colors, Jo. The setting was quite lovely with the stacked wall, too. I don’t have too much experience with rhododendrons but my they’re lovely! I particularly love that beautiful red tulip. 🙂


    1. I love that bronze colour too, Debbie. We had planned to go to a garden famous for rhodies and azaleas called Cragside tomorrow, a distance away in Northumberland. I think we’d better wait and see what the demon weather does. 🙂 🙂


  6. I love the sheeplets and the black tulips and the scene by the pond and the lighthouse, even the rhodies aren’t too bad! A very relaxed trip out I’d say, no need to be charging around all the time x:-)x


    1. Made up for it this last Sunday, Gilly, but in a good way. 🙂 🙂 This was such a nice little spot, but I really did want to walk to Witton Castle. Dad used to have a caravan in the grounds there and I wanted a look, for old times’ sake. Speaking of which, I’ve spent hours banging my head against the laptop but I finally have a bus ticket to take me from Warsaw to Belchatow. Still struggling with Belchatow to Krakow. 🙂 Then I need to look at Modlin to Warsaw Centralna. Whose mad idea was this, do you suppose? Hugs sweetheart! Not too very long before we meet again- with a bit of luck 🙂


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