14 May 2010

St Michael's gardens

Ham is blessed with many great houses, lodges, manors and mansions and many of these have equally impressive gardens. Many of these are hidden from even my persistent eyes but some are open to the public from time to time. St Michael's convent, on the north edge of Ham Common, is one of these.

The patchwork of gardens shows the influence of many hands at work over many years and there are many little idiosyncrasies within the simple overall design. Here, for example, the large kitchen garden has a little pond in one of the flower beds.

The heart of the garden, both physically and emotionally, is the informal orchard where a few trees are allowed to produce fruit at leisure. Between them, the grass is allowed to grow as tall as it likes and the brightly coloured tulips grow even taller to punctuate the scene with shocks of vivid colour like the aftermath of a paint-ball fight.