Friday, 22 April 2011

Ramsons at Newark Park

Newark Park
We spent yesterday afternoon visiting Newark Park, a National Trust property near Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire. Its principal feature is the house, a Georgian mansion incorporating a Tudor hunting lodge that is still very evident. It has been entirely restored and renovated by its tenants and thus feels very much like a private home. The house perches on the very edge of the Cotswold escarpment, which plunges away vertiginously below it, and has a most magnificent view over the valley below and across a vast tract of apparently almost uninhabited countryside - a very special place.

Newark Park Peacock

There are smallish, peacock-inhabited, areas of formal gardens and lawns on the level ground beside and above the house, not looking their best at the moment, with spring flowers fading and summer yet to come. There were masses of Cyclamen repandum in the grass, but they were rather frizzled by the prevailing heat and drought. Elsewhere the grounds are picturesque rather than intensely gardened, with walks down the slope and through the trees onto lawns and to a pool. The bluff below the house is spectacularly covered by a rogues gallery of the worst invasive horticultural weeds, a textbook for the anti-aliens brigade, all woven through with thriving stands of nettles.

Ramsons, Allium ursinum
 Another plant was also present in vast abundance, clearly invading, but at least native and looking very attractive. This was Allium ursinum, our native Ramsons or Wild Garlic, a spring-growing woodland species with a narrow soft bulb and a pair of broad leaves from between which the inflorescence appears. It is a very pretty plant, with lovely umbels of starry white flowers, and has the great advantage of growing in dry shade, where not much else could (though not much else can, when it is well established). Apart from its invasiveness the other drawback is the very strong alliaceous smell it releases all the time - the woods smell strongly of it (it's not quite garlic and not quite onion in flavour) and I really don't need either of those characters in the garden. It is edible, and I believe it is even sometimes gathered and sold as a culinary item.

Ramsons at Newark Park


  1. One of our native alliums, Allium tricoccum, grows in the Appalacian forests- West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, USA. This onion is called a Ramp and I assume this common name derives from the word Ramson. The plant is similarly broad leaved but the flower is slightly less showy and emerges in mid-summer once the leaves have died down. The plant has become a fashionable seasonable vegetable and is quite tasty. I suspect the expensive bunches sold at specialty food markets may be wild collected, but I'm not sure of this.

  2. I've walked through woods where wild garlic grows freely. It's an interesting smell, not unpleasant, but as you say, probably not something you'd want as you're sitting in your own garden.

    Creates a nice display though.

    I love your photo of the peacock. It looks very regal. Your pictures have inspired me to make a visit.

    Are there flower gardens at Newark Park?


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