…at Warley Place, anyway. Most people love Warley for its drifts of daffodils. After all, Daffs mean Prizes – Miss Willmott won RHS medals a-go-go for hers. She even boobytrapped the best ones and carried a revolver in her handbag against bulb thieves. There must still be a few prize specimens in there, it’s a whole bunch of yellow lovely and yup, I wouldn’t miss Warley’s daffs for the world.
However it’s not my favourite time of year. The prize for Warley’s most romantic gorgeousness, in my humble opinion, is now. For foxglove time is upon us – and this is an on-year.
Don’t get me wrong – Warley’s foxgloves are a marvel any year, but being biennial they have alternate good and even better seasons.
Don’t expect anything in the way of cultivars – if Miss Willmott deigned to allow anything so humble in her garden as a cultivated foxglove it’s long gone. They’re just good old, back-to-nature purple digitalis purpurea. There are, admittedly, a few cream bohemians dotted around, but nothing in the slightest bit ‘bred’. And it’s all the better for it.
A wander round the ruined gardens, house, boating lake, gorge and hothouses is ablaze with shocking pink-purple, highlit with dappled sunshine. Go in the morning for the very best experience. It’s enough to make your heart sing.
Warley Place, near Brentwood, Essex, is open at pretty much any reasonable hour, but do remember it’s a wildlife sanctuary and dogs are not allowed. Bring your camera/binoculars to catch some serious bird-action from one of the hides, they’re very active this time of year. If you come along on a Monday morning, you’ll meet the wonderful volunteers; they’re pretty active too…