Thirteen Pembrokeshire U3A members departed on Easter Sunday 16th April 2017 to catch the Super-Ferry Stenna Brittanica from Harwich to the Hook of Holland, for a five day holiday discovering “The Gardens of Holland” with CJB Garden Tours www.cjbgardentours.co.uk.
We made our way to Harwich and boarded a ferry to the Hook of Holland, a perfect overnight crossing, following breakfast on board. We then made our way by coach to the Keukenhof Gardens the first of our garden visits – although hardly a garden! Keukenhof Flower Gardens, said to be the greatest spring flower show in the world. Thousands of visitors from all over the world visit this spectacular attraction each year between March and May. There must have been a million or more tulips, hyacinths and other spring bulbs to delight the eye, in fact, it was all quite breathtaking.
The following day we travelled to the Het Loo Palace and Gardens. This Royal Palace is known as the “Versailles of the North”, where we found immaculate formal gardens. Returning from Het Loo we spent an afternoon wandering around the older parts of the beautiful Dutch town of Amersfoort. We rounded off our short visit to Holland with a fantastic excursion featuring a one-way cruise from Enkhuizen to Medemblik on the museum ship Friesland, and a steam train journey through the Dutch bulb fields.
The weather was bright and sunny but you will note from the photograph we were well wrapped up against the wind!
Last year, when preparing the calendar for the group I suggested that in May we take a trip to Dyffryn Gardens, St Nicholas, Cardiff when the weather would be more favourable!! For those of you who can remember the weather on Thursday 14 May let me remind you, it rained! However, the intrepid gardening group set off together with other U3A members and a group from Narberth. Driving conditions on the motorway were described as hazardous (get the picture) after two wrong turnings we finally arrived at the garden the rain continued but somewhat less heavy. This is a National Trust property with the most wonderful mansion currently in the course of restoration. Some rooms have been finished, and they simply took away one’s breath, fabulously decorated ceilings and wood panelling not to mention a magnificent stained glass window situated in the great hall.
Some of us did cheat a little by viewing the gardens from the upstairs windows, looking down on the great lawn and a rather water logged croquet lawn. The garden possesses many Acers together with impressive champion trees in the Arboretum.
My favourite area has to be the herbaceous border, already showing the reds and soft pinks of Peonies and the stately stems of Delphiniums – won’t they be splendid in a few more weeks? The walled garden is most impressive with many vegetable plots already showing signs of the bounty they will produce in a few weeks time!
Upon entering the large glasshouse the perfume of orchids was powerful, Not my favourite plant I have to say but beautiful nevertheless. The collection of cacti, again, most impressive it could be said. We lingered here to avoid the inclement weather but what a fascinating way of doing so.
If you have not visited this garden I would thoroughly recommend you do so, but try and pick a day when the sun shines. However, despite the weather conditions, we all had a great day and the café offers a very nice cup of tea and slice of cake!