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TheVillage Gardening

Inspirational gardens

Posted on April 20 2013 at 1:16:17 0 comments

74 Meadow Road

Dave Morgan suggests some diary dates for visiting local gardens this summer.

Where do you go to get inspiration for your own garden, whether you have hundreds of acres on a country estate or a small patch of land behind a terraced cottage?

Well, of course there is the Malvern Spring Fair in May or you could head off to the Chelsea Flower Show, but in reality, your best inspiration might be literally just round the corner!

Gardens open for the National Gardens Scheme provide a wealth of ideas and often have some great plants for sale as well, at very reasonable prices, to help put those ideas into practice. And in North Worcestershire we are blessed with some really inspirational gardens on our doorstep.

On May 26, Marlbrook Gardens opens for the first time in 2013 (1.30–5.30pm), with three totally different gardens – one very steep, built into an old sand quarry, the second a gently sloping more traditional garden and the third a plantsman’s cottage garden; all three stacked with wonderful plants and some that are quite rare.

Marlbrook Gardens will be open four times during the year, but one garden that only has one open day is Rectory Cottage in Alvechurch (June 9, 1–6pm).

When Celia Hitch purchased Rectory Cottage in Old Rectory Lane more than 30 years ago it was derelict and with no recognisable garden, but hard work and dedication has seen both developed over the years and the garden is now an impressive one-acre plot with a large expanse of riverside garden which includes a new waterfall and a bridge over a large pond.

It is perhaps not surprising that with such a large area of water, ducks, moorhens, coots, herons and even occasional kingfishers are attracted to the area.

One duck has been using one of the hanging baskets for more than five years as her own personal home and has hatched out numerous ducklings, most of which seem to manage the eight-foot drop from the hanging basket to the floor beneath!

As well as the water features Rectory Cottage also has colourful flower beds, a “secret garden” and a grassed woodland area with established trees, paths and borders stocked with rhododendrons, vibernum, acers and camellias.

There is a pebbled area with bullrushes, candelabra primulas, iris and other water loving plants and also a walled courtyard garden with pergolas, roses and selections of pots with flowering plants and hostas where refreshments are served to the chirruping of budgerigars from the adjacent aviary.

Even if you’re not looking for inspiration, or you only have a six-foot window box, Rectory Cottage is well worth a visit on a warm summer’s afternoon.

Another local garden open at the beginning of June is 74 Meadow Road, Wythall (June 1 and 2 from 1–5pm). Owned by keen gardener Joe Manchester, this is a garden dedicated to woodland and shade-loving plants.

Joe warns visitors to “expect the unexpected” in his garden (pictured above) as there are a few plants that you wouldn’t expect to find in an urban garden.

You can meander through the garden under the majestic pine, eucalyptus and silver birch or just sit and enjoy the peaceful surroundings and gaze at the many different ferns and hostas.

However, because Joe’s garden is a woodland style, if you take your inspiration from it, allow a few years for yours to grow up to the same maturity!

Finally, if you are willing to travel a little further afield in the county, and especially if you have a small garden and are looking for inspiration about maximizing your space, two Droitwich gardens are well worth a visit.

The first is at 24 Alexander Avenue (open June 15 and 16), a beautifully designed yet relatively small garden that really gives a feeling of space and tranquility with more than 100 varieties of clematis; borders with rare plants and shrubs and sweeping curves of lawns and paths to a small woodland area with shade loving plants.

There is also a south-facing front gravel garden that has drought tolerant plants.

The other Droitwich garden is Hiraeth (30 Showell Road), a traditional cottage garden with some unusual plants, herbaceous borders, hostas, ferns, arches, a pool and waterfall, a 200-year-old stile, plus various oak and metal sculptures including giraffes and an elephant!

And all of this in another relatively small garden where owners Sue and John Fletcher have used their creativity to maximise the space they have available. They describe it as “an oasis of colour in a garden not to be missed,” whilst one visitor called it “a haven on the way to heaven”.

Hiraeth is open on various days in May, June and July and details of all gardens can be found at http://www.ngs.org.uk or from the yellow leaflet available from garden centres, libraries and tourist information centres.

So don’t just sit there waiting for Chelsea to come on the TV screen – be inspired visiting some great Worcestershire gardens!


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