Posted: 3 May 2020
It's been almost five years since I last made a full tour of the grounds of Ruston House with my camera at the ready. So this tour is long overdue. I am writing it with my tour of 9 July 2015 shown in a neighbouring window. If you're reading this on a suitable device it might be a good idea to bring up both reports and view them in parallel, as they'll be many references to the changes that have taken place in those five years.
As with that report the tour starts as we pass through the gate at the side of the house, to the left of the office. This time the rose that is growing behind the gate almost completely obscures the chimney breast and prevents the gate opening fully.
On the left is the new length of decking that we had constructed in between March and April 2018. The ground slopes away towards the dyke and Diana was keen that we should find some way of making the area more attractive. Having everything in pots does take some watering, but is a joy when everything is in bloom. Comparing this view with that from five years ago makes you aware of how much the conifers beyond the decking have grown.
As you reach the back of the house you immediately realise how different the scene appears at around 10:45 on an April morning with the one you're likely to see after 13:00 in early July. While, by chance, both photographs show freshly laid chippings on the path as it leads away from the house, the angle of the light and shade are very different.
Five years make a difference too! The decking across the back of the house was re-built in 2019. There is now a wider gap in the fence and a short length lakeside. The gate has gone and the end of the decking is no longer angled so is closer to the path.
In July, five years ago, the lake was choked with lilies. This time, with moderate winds over the last week or so, there is a significant volume of birch catkins, which can be awkward to remove. The decking opposite was replaced in 2015 and the bench acquired shortly before before our wedding.
Last winter it was the lake banks behind Ruston House that were due for their tri-annual cut back. We take the opportunity to have a wider area cleared at the same time. Last summer there was a lot of bindweed growing amongst the reed and thistles that are typically found in the area to the right of the path.
Between the first two trees seen on the left is the site of the "Swan Crossing". It's not fair to call the path that, because just about every bird that makes its way up the dyke uses it as their route from the dyke to the lake. It's not just birds. Deer have been see to use it as well!
The next landmark on our route is the start of the "High Road". You can still see the leaves of the many daffodils that were in bloom a while ago. To the right the main path continues towards...
... the Arbour Seat. Looking back I see that all the decorative features that were on the patio in 2015 have been moved. These days the Jeremy Fisher statuette is found beside the lamp standard on the decking that was seen in the earlier picture. The pot holding its plant was just out of shot on the decking by the gate where we started our tour and the glass topped coffee table will be found on the "Tree House" that will be seen later in the tour.
Turning to our right we continue, as we did in 2015 along the path towards the bridge to the main island. The large green conifer that was on the right of the path is gone. It was felled late last year as it had started to intrude too much into the path. It looks as if the golden conifer beyond the large alder may need similar treatment in the next year or two!
At the bridge we see several new features. There are steps on the left, but we'll see more of what is found up them much later on the tour.
Beyond the bridge the bank has been raised to form a level grassed platform on which it was planned that the dinghy could be over- wintered. That plan did not have as long a life as expected. In part the idea was that it would remain hidden from being seen from the house, by the conifer that has since been removed.
You'll also notice that the small wooden box that was attached to the balustrade has been replaced with a much larger arrangement that can cope with more than the standard lamp. These days it can be called on to feed Christmas lights, our chipper and whatever tools the Green Team may require.
This last view, in the first part of our tour, shows the lake from just beyond the bridge. The equivalent in the 2015 tour was taken from a little further forward and you see directly across to the tip of the peninsula that is part of the grounds to which those staying in the holiday cottages see. In this picture the peninsula is obscured by the reeds on the tip of the island.
Virtually all of the catkins, complained about in the earlier photo of the lake, had been blown to this area by the wind but have since sunk. However, a scattering of them is still in evidence on the lake surface in this picture.