Wednesday, 21 May 2014

The Crossing House At Shepreth


When I was little I sometimes was taken to see my Nan in London. We went on the train which greatly added to the excitement for a small boy. Now, (before one of my witty readership asks if it was on a steam train) it was on a steam train. As we chugged through the green countryside I always looked out for the Flowers Beside The Tracks. 



This was a stretch of line which had been planted up with garden flowers alongside railway - it seemed to go on forever. It was the work, I was told, of the level-crossing keeper, who was employed to open and close the gates where the road crossed the rails. When not performing this arduous task he tended his plants. And when he ran out of space in his garden he spread his activities along the line.



























It seemed an idyllic existence but one which was doomed; automatic gates were soon to replace the crossing-keeper.



It became clear that I would have to seek alternative employment. I could draw neatly and had a head full of useless facts so, a few years later, they sent me up to university to study geography. That meant travelling up to London by train again.



Although the crossing-keeper had been made redundant I was pleased to see that his flowers lived on, seeding themselves by the trackside.



Twenty-one years ago I moved to the village of Meldreth, just a mile or two from the flowery level-crossing of yesteryear. There was the house, right beside the railway, with a little sign on the gate which read "Plant-lovers are welcome to wander around this garden".



The house and garden had been sold but the garden was still being cared for and added to.
Well, it was only a matter of time before I had to go and investigate. So today, twenty-one years after moving so close to it, I passed through the little garden gate for the first time!



Although the site can't be much more than a quarter of an acre in size it's crammed full of plants, both traditional and the more unusual. What's more it's only a five minute stroll from Docwra's Manor gardens which are open regularly throughout the summer, so ideal to visit on the same day. 



Amazingly, in this day and age, there's no charge for entry - not even a box for donations as far as I could see - and it's open from dawn till dusk every day of the year! They obviously just like to share their garden with the world.



Oh, and those self-seeding plants are still surviving by the tracks. 




                                                                                                                  Take care.




18 comments:

  1. Lovely memories and how great to be able to explore that garden!

    I heard about Meldreth through the Wildlife Trusts today... look out for a red squirrel near you, one has been spotted there!

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  2. That was a great story. Amazing that the flowers are all doing nicely. Maybe there is a lesson here for gardeners, leave plants alone and just let them do their thing.

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  3. What a wonderful, wonderful discovery, John. We have the opposite ends of the gardening spectrum today. Mine is the formal, huge garden created from wealth, and yours is a small, informal garden created from love.

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  4. Beautiful gardens and I like the way plants escape outside and spread.

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  5. How absolutely brilliant that the level crossing keeper's legacy has not only carried on but has been encourage to flourish so well, loved this story John.

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  6. In the olden days (sorry!) most station masters eemed to take great care of their gardens didn't they?
    I remember many happy journeys to see my aunt - only a distance of thirty miles or so from our house just outside Lincoln to her house in the Dukeries near Tuxford, but we passed some lovely station gardems. So glad you are blogging again. I shall now put you on my side bar again.

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  7. What a lovely garden - and truly only for the beauty. Love the horse, - I traveled on a steam train for many years too!!!!!

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  8. What a gorgeous garden I would have loved exploring this as a child. And now too!

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  9. How I would have enjoyed such a trip on a steam train! Your mixture of plants and historical pottering was pure poetry.

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  10. I enjoyed your stories of trains and gardening crossing -keepers. Interesting that their flowers live on on their own. And how lovely to find the beautiful little garden that someone wants to share. I think you will have many nice walks there this spring and summer.

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  11. Beautiful flowers and a great shot of the speeding train John.

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  12. What a wonderful story! The gardeners, past and present, obviously loved their flowers and wanted to share them with the world.

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  13. Love the story of the garden that continues on without the gardener. I often look at mine and wonder what its fate will be be. I know some of the trees will live on-- cypress, sycamore and oaks.

    A free garden to wander, lucky you-- all joy and no work.

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  14. hello John, nice to meet you! This was a beautifully photographed, beautifully written post, I was there with you! A sense of past, and a sense of hope for the future! I hail from the east too, Ive been in the SW since 2006, but I also recall train rides into London and looking at the scenes beyond the train windows!

    Leanne x

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    1. PS meant also to say i love your explanation of your blog name!

      Leanne x

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  15. WOW! A gardener that shares his/her garden without charge? And what a lovely garden it is!

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  16. What a lovely tale with such a happy ending!

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  17. Some stunning shots here John - as usual. And I liked the (almost?) whimsical trip back to a hidden place from your childhood. Did it live up to a boy's imagination, I wonder?!

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