Hightown, 28th May 2023

It was, as they say, a day of two halves. We were in Hightown for the afternoon openings of four private gardens though the National Garden Scheme, but we spent the morning wandering along the muddy Alt estuary.

The northern side of the estuary is an MOD firing range, and today there was an occasional crackle of gunfire, probably coming from the Army Cadets who do target practice on a Sunday. The guard box had its flag flying, indicating danger.

The southern side has tall reeds, a small beach and muddy gullies at low tide. A scratchy two-note birdsong was coming from the reeds. Swallows flew overhead and House Martins were collecting mud for their nests. In the water or on the banks were Shelduck, a Moorhen, Herring Gulls, Black-headed Gulls and an Oystercatcher flying inland. On the mixed mud-and-sand edge was a large colony of Marsh Samphire Salicornia europaea, each shoot about 3 inches (8 cm) tall.

To our surprise, a Lancaster Bomber flew northwards overhead, going home from Liverpool’s Battle of the Atlantic Festival on Saturday. We walked southwards along the beach as far as this wind-blasted tree then turned inland at the Blundellsands Sailing Club.

The path leads up though old sand dunes, and we spotted a Linnet flying from a tree. There was typical dune flora including Bird’s Foot Trefoil, Poppies, and these Yellow Bush Lupines, Lupinus arboreus on the edge of the car park. It’s a plant from California, rapidly spreading in the UK.

We lunched on a picnic table in a children’s playground then headed for the open gardens. The best was the first, at 75 Blundell Road. It has taken the owner 27 years to convert it from old sand dunes, starting with the import of 170 tons of topsoil. It was a pretty garden with meandering paths, sweet music playing and a literary theme. The “Narnia” area “where it’s always winter”, was planted in white, there was an “Alice in Wonderland” tea party corner, a Holmesian “Study in Scarlet” area and lots of wonderful roses.

Rose “Eye of the Tiger”

Two of the other three were large gardens with shrubberies and extensive lawns, where tea and cakes were being served, and the fourth was a narrow path around three sides of a house, absolutely crammed with plants. I was rather taken with this Thalictrum “Nimbus white”.

Here are some other lovely flowers from the day.

Public transport details: Southport train from Central at 10.08, arriving Hightown at 10.32. Returned on the train at 14.46.

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