This week, work took me to the border between Holland and Germany, and the magnificent Wasserburg Anholt in Isselburg. The castle, which appears to float in its expansive moat and is approached by drawbridge, is everything fairytales are made of. Partly destroyed at the end of the Second World War, the restoration took 30 years. It is still home to the the Prince of Salm-Salm and sits in a 42 hectare park designed in the English style. The restored Baroque gardens are a confection of parterres, rose gardens and long avenues of lime trees.
On this visit it was the water meadows that stole the show, packed with cranesbill (Geranium pratense), red campion (Silene dioica, yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor) and ox eye daisies (Leuchanthemum vulgare), with cornflowers (Centaurea cyanus) and yarrow (Achillea millefolium) coming up behind to continue the show. Mown paths guide visitors through these bucolic pastures, set about with generous clumps of mature trees. Capability Brown would have been very proud!
If I didn’t know better, I’d assume these meadows had been artificially planted, but the sheer diversity of flowers and grasses suggested otherwise. This quality of wet grassland can’t be achieved overnight, and will have taken a lot of careful maintenance. In the evening, grey herons and flitting swallows complete the verdant scene, and thousands of noisy frogs sing you to sleep from the moat below your room. Magical.