|The Banqueting House|
The Landmark Trust owns the building and funded the four-year restoration project, which finished in 1981, and took the building from a dilapidated shell to its current state of grandeur. It is now rented out as a holiday let, and is open to the public one weekend a year as part of the Heritage Open Days scheme. 2013's open days have just ended, but it's well worth making a date in your diary for 2014, as Gibside is free to enter, and the chapel's crypt is open for viewing too!
|caterpillar of the Buff-tip moth|
|Nicandra physalodes, the shoo-fly plant|
Finally, there is one particular plant that has been causing a stir for the last few weeks ... and it's the Apple of Peru, or shoo-fly plant, Nicandra physalodes. Nicandra is a native of Peru, and has large bell-shaped blue flowers that open out along the length of its arching stems. Perhaps more magnificent are its Chinese-lantern style fruits that appear after flowering and decorate the branches with mottled black and green "lanterns". Each of these lanterns contains a berry about the size of a marble that is filled with seed. Not surprisingly then, if you do plant a single Nicandra, you may well find yourself with dozens the following year! It's pretty easy to keep control by making sure you pull up the Nicandra before its seeds ripen and disperse, or to hoe out unwanted seedlings that germinate the next year. The seedlings have distinctive tooth-edges leaves and black speckles. This plant grows as an annual here in Britain, providing flowers and fruit from June to October, and perhaps even repelling the odd insect or two (though we haven't tested this!), hence its common name: shoo-fly.
Whether you're interested in architecture, wildlife, flowers, or all three, why not come along to Gibside now that autumn's here and see what you can discover?