Gardens by the sea at Cleethorpes

For our anniversary, the Welsh Rose and I went to Cleethorpes. British seaside towns take an awful lot of undeserved flak and jeers; but neither of us fly, for moral/environmental reasons; and besides it’s looking like a busy rest of month for us: so an overnight stay at the seaside seemed like just the ticket.

The gardens at Cleethorpes are a combination of traditional soft landscaping (mostly bedding plants) with stand-out contemporary sculptures and perennial beds. They extend from the station down to a swimming pool on the coast, after which there’s a large boating lake set back from the shifting sandflats.

After a freezing-cold first day, we woke up to a much warmer start, with even occasional spells of sunshine, which set the first set of perennial gardens off really nicely:

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The main pleasure garden, after the station square, begins with these were planted on the south-west side of a high wall:

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This protects from the worst northerlies and salt spray coming in from the sea. They’re planted up by volunteers from nearby Beacon Hill allotments, to show the mixture of perennials, vegetables and even fruit trees that can cope with the surroundings given a bit of protection. This is apparently a Lincolnshire-style picket fence:

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It’s very nice, but I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference a number of different styles came up on Pointless, labelled A to E.

Swathes of bedding and elegant spiral topiary:

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There’s even a maze, which was big enough for us to get lost in it:

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Long vistas along the gardens include this… laurel oak? Planted by Acordys Acrylic Fibres in memory of all the workers of the world killed at work:

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Quercus laurifolia would make sense if Acordys were a transatlantic company, but it seems to be entirely absent from Google so I can’t really say.

A thin stretch of bedding arrangements proceeds from that garden to the leisure centre, with smashing sculptures by Rachel McWilliam:

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I love the way her sculptures use a very heavy, stiff material (the metal) to represent billowing, airy objects.

This bed of perennials caught my attention, including hostas thriving in arid, baking conditions:

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There was also an ornamental water feature, dedicated to Princess Di:

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With some irony, presumably, as the Rose told me Diana had always professed to dislike fountains as they made her want to wee. More interestingly, the statue in the centre is one of several copies made of “The Boy With the Leaking Boot”, a local landmark originally installed in Cleethorpes by an immigrant shipping magnate in 1918. John Carlbom himself disowned any deeper meaning, but others have suggested plenty.

We moved on the coast but sadly, as we were busy actually boating, we have no picture of the boating lake as such; just some geese:

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The lake was lovely and cool, on what was turning into a hot day, but horticulturally not particularly exciting. The sandflats beyond the sea walls and dunes were more interesting, with their open, eerie flatness and a sandbar in the distance hiding all but the sea’s crashing roar. But that didn’t photograph well at all: it takes a better photographer than me to make a drama out of flat.

Better to experience it yourselves, if you can: just head towards the sand, the sea and the wide horizon!

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