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Bank holiday Monday, New Years Day Observed apparently, sunny but cold. I wanted to get some use out of my newish RHS membership so  I took the family to RHS Garden Hyde Hall in Essex, the only RHS garden that I can get to comfortably for a day visit.

I have never been to a RHS garden before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Entry was via a National Trust type shop but further in there were more garden related products and an interesting variety of seeds available. I didn’t make it to the plant centre at the end of my visit as my hands were totally frozen from taking photos and I was desperate to get inside, maybe next time!

Out of the doors, the path guided us along a sweeping vista to a lake with a large grass area and picnic tables. I’m sure that it’s lovely in the summer! Climbing the bank, to the left, the path leads through sculptured willow trees, grasses and herbaceous still left tall. The hard surface ends and we carried on up a further  grassy slope to the dry garden at the top of the hill.

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Paths meander through grasses, interesting shrubs, spikey yuccas and tall Italian cypresses. With some intermingling herbaceous seedheads and a gravel mulch it all looked very appealing even in midwinter. I liked the steps up and down, making the most of the slopes, and the wonderful view across the Essex countryside.

Mimosa, phormiums and Sophora among other plants in the dry garden.

Onward past the redevelopment work and there was a pond with ducks and formal gardens complete with pin sharp hedges and beautifully crafted obelisks. Good for the families playing hide as seek and I bet they look great in the summer when the roses are out although there were a few hardy blooms even today. 

Climbing roses, pruned and trained along ropes, form a walk to the vegetable beds, currently closed but the plans look good. 

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Carrying on the circuit there were mixed beds, roses, shrubs and, hooray, some bulbs coming up! Back down the hill on the other side more wavy paths and bridges and some winter flowers including my first hellebore of the year.

With the finish in sight, I  found my plant of the day, a Grevillea in flower.  A whiz round some formal beds with low hedges next to the main building to admire the Cornus midwinter fire and we were back in the warm. There was plenty to see but I would really like to return in summer to enjoy the all the other plants hidden away for the winter especially the bananas which were well wrapped against the cold.