Anglesey Abbey

After returning from a glorious holiday in Cornwall – where the Indian Summer had forestalled the approach of Autumn – I learnt that I had missed the Annual Dahlia Festival at Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire. Knowing that the dahlias were still looking beautiful, I made a trip from Boxted to spend a day surrounded by a myriad of colours and varieties …

Anglesey Abbey is owned by the National Trust, which can sometimes be a disadvantage for an amateur photographer, as some properties have rules & regulations which prohibit the use of tripods – or make it tricky for a photographer to get up close to the flowers.

Upon arrival I was disappointed to find that the gardeners had closed off all access to the Dahlia Crescent – because the thousands of visitors throughout the festival had damaged the lawn area in front of the border. Expecting the worst, but being encouraged by the friendliness of the entrance staff, I waited with baited breath to see if I would be able to get a special dispensation to view the border.  I had travelled a long way specifically to photograph the individual dahlia blooms – and luckily the deputy head gardener agreed that I could step past the rope barriers and photograph along the border in its entirety !

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I had to be thick-skinned when I heard the murmurs of some elderly visitors who were disappointed to be denied access – no doubt they imagined me to be a professional on a photoshoot . I was certainly very privileged to have free and uninterrupted access to the magnificent display – which I was told varies each year to ring the changes. This border is Anglesey Abbey’s ‘Pride & Joy’ – famous throughout Europe and beyond … The colours were coordinated as the border progressed around its crescent shape – from white to cream, cream to yellow, yellow to orange, orange to red etc. The middle of the border moved from chocolates to purples – small blooms to the super-sized Elma E.  The nuances between the hues were subtle and the petal shape was also excellently contrasted from one section to the next – with flouncy romantic blooms nestling against small, neat balls – and wild, pointed cactus flower heads against delicate water lily petals.

It was really difficult for me to contain my overall excitement and focus on the technical necessities – and in the background of my mind, I knew that I would somehow have to note down the names of all these amazing varieties .. Luckily, the gardeners’ had prepared an official detailed plan of the plantings – and I managed to pinpoint the majority of names for my chosen subjects. I was very grateful to be able to spend a happy few hours completing my creative assignment …

I have posted my favourite photos of the dahlias, followed by a few general images of the gardens on an accompanying post – Anglesey Abbey Part Two … The dahlias are only one small part of the overall spectacle at the abbey – and I am sure that everybody could find something pleasing there. The staff were the most friendly I have ever met at a National Trust ‘Garden’ property and the facilities were excellent. I would heartily recommend a visit there and will be returning in the early spring for the vast array of snowdrop varieties that are abundant there … I hope that you are inspired by my images.

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