First we headed for a cuppa in the Cafe Courtyard - past the tulips which are coming to an end now but still look beautiful even with petals missing . . .
. . . stopping for a closer look at the pink forget-me-nots
and multilayered tulips with their delicious ice cream colours.
We sat chatting at a table in the cafe courtyard near a raised flower bed where bees were busy in the campanulas. What a lot of pollen this one is carrying.
Then we walked (perhaps meandered describes it better), enthused and took photos. We paused to look at the tiny plants in the alpine trough - it's so easy to pass by without noticing them.
These tiny vibrant red flowers are probably smaller than five pence pieces.
Further along these delicate pink flowers caught my attention.
Long stemmed white flowers float above the mossy mounds. (Mossy Saxifragas?)
We are both excited about colour and texture in nature, finding beauty in things that are past their best or things that other people would probably not notice.
These ferny curls made me think of knitting with hairy wool, felting, stitching etc. to make ferny sculptures.
I love the alliums.
The spiders have been having fun with this one.
Flame-like colours and patterns on tulip petals.
Gorgeous combination of colours and textures
Yellow petals beginning to peep from the star shapes as they open.
Pink and purple.
While my friend was photographing these little pink flowers I mentioned that I've never managed to catch a decent photo of them - they always seem to be blurred. I took a very quick snap expecting it to be blurred and caught this which is better than any previous attempts.
A white iris
- but having a closer look it's not really plain white. It looks as if someone has dipped a little wet brush in purply-blue water-colour paint and touched a few of the veins and around the edges of the petals. The centre is a forest of transluscent stems which carry a dappled cloud of yellow anthers.
Allium buds lined up and bursting to open.
Zingy lime coloured leaves - and tiny buds.
Very dark slender leaves and well camouflaged flowers.
This small tree is heavily laden with delicate white flowers which are tinted pink on the backs - which started as deep red buds that looked like little beads dangling on threads.
Looking over that tree covered in white blossom towards a Pieris (Mountain fire) and a dark red Acer (right) and a white rhododendron (middle back) and enjoying the colours against each other.
Enjoying differences in scale too - having looked at the bigger picture, back to detail and looking closer at these silky pink flowers.
A leaf that probably shouldn't look like this but the pattern and the ripples on it caught my attention - and my friend didn't think I was crazy - she was busy photographing a different strange leaf close by.
We didn't notice how much time passed while we were enjoying the variety of patterns, shapes, sizes, colours etc.
Rhododendrons and azaleas.
A tall tree, with no leaves on it yet, has sprays of purple flowers at the end of the bare branches - it's quite hard to see them up there but a few have fallen to the ground.
In many places the rhododendrons create arches over the pathways.
Anthers like twin vases. Aren't they amazing?
Another rhododendron arch.
Lovely heart shaped leaves on red stems.
Pollen laden anthers.
Beautiful Acer leaves.
Tiny Acer flowers are turning into miniature winged seeds. You have to look quite closely to see them - it's easier in this photo because the light was catching the translucent wings.
Some of the ferns are very tall
A fern frond from last year - lovely pattern and colour contrast against the green leaves.
Tiny flowers on a nearby plant - no idea what it is.
At least I know what these are - Korean pine cones. These are developing their darkened harder layer inside. The top soft leaf-like "pointed tongues" are tinged pink.
I never tired of looking at the amazing structure of these.
Further up the tree the developing cones are soft and green - no dark hardened inner parts are visible yet.
Patterned leaves - under the palm and banana trees.
They form lobes to begin with.
I walked all around the flower bed to try and get a better view. They are very strange structures.
The white flowers that stand very upright above the leaves are fully out now.
Unfortunately this otherwise attractive plant's scent reminds me of being stuck next to someone wearing an ancient, unwashed, wet rain jacket. My friend hardly noticed the scent and didn't find it particularly objectionable.
A couple more fern curls. Amazing structures.
From a distance these look like blueberries
but looking closer - what an interesting design.
One of the palm flowers (actually its lobes of flowers - they'll all open soon) taken from the other side of the flower bed.
Peachy raspberry and cream coloured rhododendrons.
Pine inflorescence. (It's not really this huge - it just looks enormous with the hut in the background.)
A bit closer
A few white alliums are popping up here and there.
It was a wonderful walk full of the joy of nature and photography.
Thank you very much for joining me.