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TheVillage Gardening

Second chance Sunday

Posted on June 27 2012 at 11:08:12 0 comments

Norma and Ray Yarnell enjoy their new ‘beach’ at The Old Swan, Swan Street

Missed a local garden open day? You have a second chance, writes David Morgan.

I wanted to visit Alvechurch Gardens in June (when the photos on these and the following pages were taken), but unfortunately it clashed with an important “family gathering”, which obviously took priority.

So I am delighted that the 10 gardens involved are open again on Sunday July 15 from 1pm until 6pm, with an admission price of £5 – this has to be the bargain of the season at 50p a garden!

It’s so good to have a second chance to visit gardens that open for the National Garden Scheme (NGS) in our area, when you know that not only will you get to see some amazing gardens, often pick up some useful tips and ideas, usually get to enjoy the refreshments (Beloved says that I’m sometimes more interested in the cakes than the gardens!) but also that all the money raised goes to support worthwhile charities.

Outside of Alvechurch, there’s also another chance to see Redhouse Farm Barn in Stoke Prior. A new garden for 2012, it opened originally on a very cold and windy mid-April day and opens again on Tuesday July 3 from 11am–3pm (admission £3) – these are gardens built around a recently built oak-framed barn that opens as a wedding venue, and it will be interesting to see how they have matured since that cold spring day when the owners first threw open their garden gate.

Then our own garden, Oak Tree House, which forms one third of Marlbrook Gardens, opens with the other two, Saranacris and Round Hill Garden, twice during the next two months – on July 1 and August 12 from 1.30–5.30 pm, admission price £5.

These are three totally different gardens both in terms of style and planting schemes. Saranacris is built into an old sand quarry, so is a very steep and terraced garden with plenty of interesting and unusual plants, a roof garden accessed by a metal spiral staircase, a hot house with exotics and a very large glasshouse.

This is a must for anyone either wanting ideas for a steep garden or who likes structure and some innovative hard landscaping.

Round Hill Garden, although only two doors down the road, is not as steep and combines a Mediterranean-style patio close to the house, a large pond, some interesting sculptures, a large grassed area with herbaceous borders, more unusual plants, a large and well-maintained vegetable patch together with an innovative way of keeping the birds off, and even a growing collection of cacti.

Oak Tree House garden is more a plantsman’s (or should that be plantswoman’s, as Beloved is the real plant-aholic) garden in more of a cottage style, absolutely packed with plants including a large collection of hostas, plus ponds, a waterfall and water features, plenty of seating to relax on, interesting artefacts and views over open countryside at the back.

Marlbrook Gardens will also be open for the final time on September 1 from 6.30–10 pm – this is the evening opening when all the gardens will be lit with hundreds of lights from dusk. Wine and nibbles will be served in the gardens (admission £6 but the glass of wine is free!)

Although these are the only gardens in the Village catchment area with second open days, there is still a chance to visit others “by appointment”.

74 Meadow Road in Wythall, an urban garden dedicated to woodland and shade loving plants, and where owner Joe Manchester says, “expect the unexpected”, is open to group visits by prior arrangement, as is Seechem Manor in Rowney Green Lane, Alvechurch.

Seechem Manor has a three-acre garden surrounding a medieval grade II manor house (which is not open), and where climbing roses, clematis and wisterias adorn the property.  There are herbaceous borders, a rose walk, ponds with water features and abundant wildlife that create a peaceful haven.

Contact Joe (01564 829589 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) for Meadow Road or Nicky Sethia (0121 445 2240 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) to enquire about group sizes and available dates.

Pump Cottage in Weatheroak is another garden open “by appointment” and owners Barry Knee and Sue Hunstone will welcome groups of any size until the end of September.

When I politely enquired as to the minimum acceptable number in a “group”, Barry smiled and said, “one!” – so there is no need to try and get a coach party together!

Pump Cottage is a wonderful garden packed with plants, artefacts, water features, unusual ideas and with a natural pond at the bottom, which is covered with water lilies and creates a natural wildlife area. Barry can be contacted on 01564 826250 and they have a website (http://www.pumpcottage.org.uk).

And don’t forget Red House Farm in Flying Horse Lane, Bradley Green – one of the inspirations for our own garden – which is open for the NGS every Thursday from 12–5pm until the end of September. Red House Farm also has a nursery attached which sells plants nurtured in the garden at very reasonable rates.

So even if you have missed one of the gardens in this area this year, there are still plenty of chances to enjoy some stunning and relaxing gardens (and some great cakes!)

Pictured above: Norma and Ray Yarnell enjoy their new ‘beach’ at The Old Swan, Swan Street, during the Alvechurch Gardens open day in June.


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