Visit ‘a jewel in Yorkshire’s crown’

Water lillies at Burnby Hall and Gardens, Pocklington.
Water lillies at Burnby Hall and Gardens, Pocklington.

What finer way to celebrate one’s 80th birthday, than with a visit to Pocklington’s Burnby Hall Gardens and Museum? Perfect weather, and good road conditions meant a pleasant hour’s drive from home.

With joy came sadness, as witnessed man’s inconsiderate speed along country lanes, decimating our wildlife at an alarming rate. At least four pheasants; a crow; fox; hedghog and stoat were among victims identified. Scarcely any bird-life was observed en-route.

Pocklington’s unique gardens are justifiably called “a jewel in Yorkshire’s crown”, and are home to a National Collection of over 100 varieties of water lilies. These bloom on the lakes between June and August, but even mid-September provided welcome colour.

The two lakes, set in nine acres of gardens and woodland contain carp and roach. The water ‘boiled’ as huge fish surfaced to be hand fed by joyful children.

Several moorhens swam across the lake, with the head and tail moving in a jerky, deliberate fashion. They’re very adaptable birds, being able to walk or run on flat ground, swim, wade, and even climb trees!

There are walkways around both lakes, an ornamental bridge, a Victorian garden, beautiful aviary, a rock garden being restored, and a stumpery.

The Rock Garden was created around 1910 for Percy and Katharine Stewart by the Backhouse Nursery of York. A huge grant has enabled this area to be restored. Volunteers will help re-plant it this late autumn. Nevertheless, we loved its stark simplicity, and wire mesh and willow sculptures sited in perfect locations.

The lakes have been desilted, as they were last done in 1998. The silt is dried and later used as garden compost. The upper lake, first constructed in 1904 was starting to deteriorate, and last November saw the start of repairs to the edges.

We never tire of these beautifully-maintained gardens, with the Stumpery being the most recent addition, in Primrose Wood. The last time we called, we regretted the huge roots of ornamental interest, were becoming so overgrown that their weird forms were hidden. However, this year they were amazing, and left much to the creative imagination.

As we had limited time here, I’m afraid we had to omit the Stewart Museum beside Lilypad Cafe.

As we were about to leave, we were give a stunning reminder of the re-cycling of plastics and re-use of bottles and bottle-tops. A huge ornamental water lily had been created, surrounded by minature ones and bottle designs.

Returning to Scarborough through Seamer, just before reaching the church, we were amazed to discover several fine walnut trees alongside the wall. They were all laden in walnuts.

The timber of a walnut tree provides a beautiful convoluted grain pattern, and a walking stick of walnut is a treasure!