"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Monday, 10 February 2020

Snowdrop Weekend at Hill Close Gardens

The weekend before last we drove to Warwick to visit the Snowdrop Event at Hill Close Gardens which I visited for the first time last May.

Hill Close Gardens (or the hidden gardens of Warwick) are a rare example of Victorian detached gardens used by residents of the town who lived above their premises in Warwick town centre and had no room in their small backyards to grow fruit, vegetables and flowers. The gardens date back to the mid 1840's when the owner of Hill Close divided his land into 32 plots and rented them out. Over time the plots were bought by the people who were using them. 16 plots of the original 32 survive until the present day.

The gardens were cultivated until after World War 2 when Warwick District Council started buying up the plots so that they could use the land for housing development and a local Committee was formed to try and fight this. Research revealed the importance of the gardens and the development was thankfully cancelled. A trust was set up to save the gardens for the future and restore them.

If you would like to read more of the history of the gardens and see them in May please see my post here

Timothy came along - sitting in the car and looking forward to the snowdrops :)

Snowdrops by the entrance

Plants for sale and I did buy a snowdrop as we left.

There was a lovely table display and floral arrangements in the Visitor Centre

A walk round the gardens

This is all that is left of a boiler system used to produce pig swill. Pigs were kept on some of the plots in the Second World War and into the 1950's.

As well as Snowdrops there were Primroses, Crocuses, Aconites and Hellebores.

Inside one of the summer houses

The Potting Shed still in use today

Before leaving we had a cup of tea and cake (Pear and Ginger) in the Visitor Centre.

I felt a bit guilty about the cake but, having finally plucked up the courage to read the healthy eating guide from the doctors, I was pleased to note you can have the occasional piece of homemade cake. I've stocked up on ryvitas, cottage cheese, dried fruits, low fat yogurts, malt loaf and olive oil spread and managed to cut chocolate and biscuits out of my diet (for now!!). I'm also cutting down on butter and cheese which is the hardest thing to do.

I also discovered an old recipe which I've been making on and off for nearly 40 years for a picnic fruit loaf which contains no fat.

I've given the recipe below as it really is delicious.

Picnic Fruit Loaf

Makes 2 1lb loaves


450g mixed dried fruit
225g soft light brown sugar
300 ml warm tea (no milk!!!)
1 egg
2 tablespoons marmalade
450g self raising flour


Soak mixed dried fruit with light brown soft sugar in warm tea overnight. (I actually leave it now for at least 24 hours so the fruit plumps up)
Next day (or the day after) stir in egg, marmalade and SR flour. Mix thoroughly. Edit - sorry should have mentioned preheat oven to Gas Mark 3.
Place in 2 1lb load tins (450g) base lined and greased and bake for between 1.5 hours to 1.75 hours. I check after 45 minutes and if the top is browning too much cover the top loosely with foil.
When skewer comes out clean they are cooked.
Cool in tins before turning out.

They freeze well wrapped in foil and will keep up to 4 months.

Slice and butter (or the dreaded olive oil spread!).

All photos taken by me with the Panasonic Lumic FZ330 bridge camera
(D left his camera in the car)


Rustic Pumpkin said...

Isn't it lovely to have somewhere like this to visit, a reminder that it won't be Winter forever {unless you move to Narnia, of course} Happy to see Timothy out and about, and also you are enjoying some treats having read your guidelines. Your recipe isn't unlike a Bara Brith, and you can ring in the changes with different flavoured teas too.
Hope you are safe after Ciara, but don't unbatten the hatches just yet, Dennis is on his way!

Ragged Robin said...

Rustic Pumpkin - Thank you and lol re: Narnia :) Good idea about trying different teas. Have a box of herbal teas as my children love them and I have tried Earl Grey in the past :) The recipe came from an old cookery magazine which folded up many years ago.

Rosie said...

How wonderful, the gardens look lovely and great to see the snowdrops and the inside of the summer houses. I was thinking as I read your recipe that it sounded a bit like Bara Brith, I see Rustic Pumkin has mentioned this too. A friend of mine used to make something he called 'Everything Less Cake' which as far as I remember didn't have sugar or much if any fat it was just sweetened by the fruit. I must look for the recipe, I have bits of paper with recipes on all over tucked into various books. Cheese and chocolate are very hard to cut down on aren't they? Have a good week:)

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thank you. Yes it does sound like Bara Brith to me too :) Your friend's recipe looks good - mine unfortunately is still high in sugar! I have recipes tucked in cook books too! Also have files for "most made" meals, puddings, cakes, Christmas and Easter plus Halloween! And we won't mention the files of recipes to try!!!!! Have been naughty today gave in and had a Penguin and last night's tea had a lot of cheese and tonight's does too! :( Not good! I like soup and salad but my daughter always pulls her face. But I do need to cut down more on saturated fats. I've bought some Benecol drinks as well that are supposed to help lower chlosterol. I bet after all this the drs completely forget about having me back for another blood test! One thing is certain I will not be going straight after Easter!!!

Midmarsh John said...

Great to see Spring is just round the corner with colour returning to our flower beds and baskets.

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

I'm so glad plants are on sale again!

Ragged Robin said...

MidMarsh John - Thank you and yes it is good news :) I walked up my garden yesterday and we have lots of wild primroses in flower and one lone snowdrop but quite a few cyclament and miniature daffodils too :)

Simon Douglas Thompson - Thank you - I could have spent a fortune :)

CherryPie said...

The early spring flowers are a delight. I checked a couple of days ago to see if my snowdrops were growing this year. They are but they haven't opened up yet, which is unusual.

The cake looks delicious :-)

Ragged Robin said...

CherryPie - Thank you. We only have a few snowdrops in our own garden as they don't seem to do well here and we have just one in flower.

Pam said...

I remember reading about this place last year :) It almost looks like a summers day...if you ignore the bare branches (and the fact you're there to look at Snowdrops!)...... Thank you for the recipe, i've printed off a copy and will give it a go!

Ragged Robin said...

Pam - Thank you. It was quite a little discovery :) Hope you enjoy the Fruit Loaf - it really is an easy little recipe and doesn't create much washing up :)