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TheVillage Gardening

More from Marlbrook

Posted on June 28 2013 at 2:00:44 0 comments

Saranacris

Dave Morgan points out the many and varied attractions on display at Marlbrook Gardens.

The owners of a Bromsgrove garden, open for the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) for the last 10 years, have decided not to re-open in 2014, so their upcoming opening may be the last opportunity for visitors to see this amazing garden.

John and Janet Morgan – whose garden, Saranacris, is named after their three children, Sarah, Anna and Chris – have decided to take at least a year off and will decide whether to reopen or not in 2015.

Their garden, built on multiple levels in a disused sand quarry, is part of a group of three gardens, called Marlbrook Gardens.

These gardens have been featured in numerous magazines and newspapers over the years including Amateur Gardener, Garden News Weekly and the Daily Mail’s Saturday magazine, and were included in the top 50 small gardens worth visiting in 2009 in a Daily Telegraph special feature.

One has even been used by the BBC for a Gardeners’ World programme on growing vegetables.

Saranacris is not a garden for anyone who doesn’t like steps! Even from the road the steepness of the ground from the days of the old quarry is obvious, with a climb up the front steps to the side entrance.

Passing over a small bridge and water feature to the side of the house, you reach the patio where more steps stretch out up the rear garden.

There is also a metal spiral staircase up to a roof garden that allows access to one of two glass houses full of exotic plants, and from this elevated position the visitor has a great view of the whole rear garden.

From the patio, there is a larger glass house to visit or one can start the climb up the steps. Passing carnivorous plants, a shady area under planted with hostas and a new statue of a Masai warrior made in Zimbabwe, you eventually arrive at the top of the garden, where there is a pond with a new bridge and seating area.

Next to the pond is a plant that John is particularly pleased with – a Chilean Fire Bush, normally difficult to grow in our climate, that he has nurtured since 2001.

More hostas and a variety of other plants are around the top of the garden (you are now higher that the roof of the house), and then the visitors start their descent past a stream, more ponds, an unusual hardy fuchsia, bamboos and a variety of other species.

This is a garden certainly worth a visit.

Two doors down from Saranacris is Alan and Lynn Nokes’s Round Hill Garden, which has also been open for 10 years, and both couples were presented with commemorative NGS trowels in recognition of this, in February.

The Nokeses have just redeveloped their front garden and the initial planting has survived the cold and wet winter remarkably well considering it is north facing.

Round Hill Garden is gently sloping, from the garden room and Mediterranean-style patio next to the house, up past a large fish pond and seating area, through a more traditional section with lawn and herbaceous borders and then up to the top of the garden with raised vegetable beds and a growing collection of cacti.

Alan and Lynn have continued to change and improve their garden and this year the hot bed has been extended, the pond area has been completely replanted, the stream rebuilt and a new bridge created over the stream. In addition, they have added to their collection of sculptures and artefacts.

They are also attempting to become as eco-friendly as possible and have increased their rain water harvesting by another four butts, making 10 in all plus a 400 gallon tank, with more planned.

Alan says, “We’re sure now we have done this we are helping to ensure the rain is behind us and a drought is imminent!”

The third garden in the trio is Oak Tree House, just round the corner on the Birmingham Road, which joined the group eight years ago and is a plantsman’s cottage garden literally stuffed full of plants and artefacts.

As garden owner Di Morgan says, “I don’t like bare earth, so whenever I see any I have to cover it by planting something new!”

Some of the specialities include hostas, grasses, dahlias, clematis, lilies and her favourite, violas.

Marlbrook Gardens will be open on Saturday August 24 from 6.30 until 10 pm – the gardens can be seen in normal daylight until dusk when hundreds of lights will be switched on to give the gardens a totally different appearance.

Admission is £6 and will include a free glass of wine.
On Sunday August 25 the gardens will be open again from 1.30 until 5.30 pm when the admission is £5.


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