I've lived down the road - a mile or two away - from Locko Park for thirty-five years, and, although I've walked through the park itself many times (looking over the lake is a good place to watch the sun set), I've never actually been inside the gardens. They're only open a few times a year, and somehow I've missed the date or had other plans. Last Sunday they were open to raise funds for Derbyshire Children's Holiday Centre, and I was determined to go.
Some of the specimen trees are HUGE, though the camera can't grasp the scale, and, although the rhododendrons were past their best, flowering trees and shrubs (these are cornus kousa but there were several enchanting styrax japonica too) and banks of foxgloves brought colour to the wilder area off the main gravel path.
Winding round, the path leads through gates to a viewpoint over the long herbaceous border
then through an archway down between the borders, which are deep enough to hide a small pond.
Walking in decreasing circles we eventually came to the rose garden - a riot of colour and scent.
I've already mentioned the lions and the eagle we encountered, but all around the gardens - freestanding, mounted on plinths, standing beside gates or on walls - are animal sculptures - some immediately recognisable, others the stuff of myth (or nightmare)
For what, in the scheme of country house gardens, is a comparatively small affair, Locko is brim-full of things to see, and nooks and crannies to explore. We didn't get time to laze on the lawns and admire the lake in the distance as rain was threatening, and we decided to head home.
I'll be back though, next time the gardens are open.