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TheVillage Gardening

It’s all about contrast

Posted on April 29 2015 at 3:14:34 0 comments


Dave Morgan introduces the two very different gardens opening in Burcot for the first time under the National Gardens Scheme.

Contrast is important in all walks of life – in art, in furnishing the home, even in cooking – and it is equally important in a garden. There can be contrast in colours, texture, plants and planting styles, not to mention contrast in size and design.

And that’s exactly what you get with two gardens in Burcot that are opening together for the first time for the National Gardens Scheme in May.

It all started in early summer 2014 when, as the County Organiser for the NGS in Worcestershire, I received a phone call from Chris Franklin of Greenhill in Burcot, who wanted to find out whether his garden was good enough to open for the NGS.

Upon inspection, it was obviously an extremely very neat and well-kept garden designed for minimum maintenance and maximum enjoyment.

But the NGS is not just interested in neat and well kept gardens – it also needs to know how much interest there is in the garden. Will it keep visitors interested and occupied for, say, 30 minutes, so that they feel they have received value for money?


In terms of Chris’s garden in Greenhill (above), created by him over a three-year period, the answer was probably “no”. It was well laid-out and well-maintained with all-year-round colour, mainly with trees and shrubs, and a good example of what can be achieved with a small garden – but you could easily walk round it in a few minutes and on its own it didn’t quite provide enough interest.

So an appeal went out, through The Village magazine, for the “Lost Gardens of Burcot”! Surely there must be other gardens in the village that could become part of a group with Chris, so that together they could open for the NGS.

The answer was “yes”, and someone with a totally contrasting garden as well. This second garden, Appletreewick in Pikes Pool Lane (right), is owned by Ruth Edwards and, while Chris’s garden is small, compact and neatly manicured, Appletreewick is a natural garden developed to encourage local wildlife.

There is a small natural pond, sculptures, artefacts, plenty of seating and a view of the Clent Hills from the top orchard.

Chris’s garden is short and level. In contrast, Ruth’s is long and sloping. Chris’s garden would be described as neat, trimmed or tidy, whereas in contrast, Ruth’s is more natural and has been allowed to spread.

You can see Chris’s entire garden from the moment you walk into it, but in contrast, at Appletreewick, you have to walk round the whole of it to see all the planting schemes, artefacts and other items of interest.

So two gardens that are in total contrast with each other, but together they create a really interesting group well worth a visit on May 29 and 30. Visitors should park at Fresh@Burcot Garden Centre, which has offered its car park for the occasion, as each garden is just a short walk away.

Fresh has also kindly agreed to provide refreshments (with any profit going to the NGS) and is even offering two outdoor plants for the price of one to anyone with an entry ticket to the gardens on the day.

One week earlier, on May 24, two more contrasting gardens open for the NGS in the area: Oak Tree House and Round Hill will open together as Marlbrook Gardens. These gardens have been open for 10 and 12 years respectively but still attract many new (and previous) visitors who enjoy the contrast.

Oak Tree House is a plantsman’s cottage garden, stacked full of plants, water features and artefacts, with a touch of humour here and there and a very small vegetable area.

Book brick

In contrast, Round Hill is a more traditional garden with neatly-kept lawns, well maintained and more spaced-out borders, a very large vegetable patch with glasshouses and even a growing cactus collection.

So contrast is important in a garden and there are plenty of contrasting gardens open in the area in May for the NGS. More information at or from the county leaflet.

Left: Ruth Edwards, owner of Appletreewick, painted this brick to look like a book – The Lost Gardens of Burcot – which will be displayed in her garden before being presented to Dave Morgan as thanks for inspiring the Burcot owners to open their gardens.

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