At first Anne and I feared that we would see the gardens only through window panes (though I love the picture of these apple trees dearly): dark clouds were approaching, first drops fell, and the outdoor visitors opened their umbrellas and fled inside.
But ten minutes later everything had changed, and we got the most remarkable impressions:
the same apple trees - but in plain air:
A huge arcade:
Wisterias over beautiful gardens:
A knot garden:
Beautiful in their simplicity was the Elizabethan garden - tiny and modest and gay.
And then the Great Vine, planted in 1768 for King George III by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown, the head gardener of Hampton Court Palace. Can you imagine that this glasshouse is filled by only one plant? It has the Guinness World Record: the largest vine - with a circumfence of 3.8m (12 ft 5 in) and branches typically measuring to 33m (108 ft) long. The longest measures 75m (246 ft) long in January 2005. In front of the glass house they keep a large acre free - because the roots of the Great Vine extend beneath this area and need all the moisture and nutrients they can get. (The grapes are only for eating - no wine is pressed).
'Even up until 1920 Hampton Court grapes were kept strictly for the royal family only, with the vine keepers guarding them closely with numbering each bunch!' (I will not have that much trouble this year: the vine on my balcony bears exactly two bunches - very manageable.)
When the sun came out, we walked a while inside the gardens looking at the Thames.
And the view to Hampton Court Palace gave us a real Italian feeling: