English Country Garden June 2010
I missed out on my garden club’s April garden visit and last month it was our plant sale so I was looking forward to this month’s outing. We do try to go to gardens that aren’t open on a regular basis or if they open under the NGS, those that only open the group visits. This month’s outing was to Showborough House nr Twyning in Worcestershire.
The current owners had taken up residence in 2002 and started to garden in 2003. The house had previously been an old people home but had had more illustrous owners in the past with Stanley Baldwin owning it in the 1950s/60s. One of the previous owners had been into collecting specimen trees and these formed the backbone of the garden. We were told that when the owners had started on the garden that the only thing they had to work with was the trees. I think they have utlisied the trees very well, creating vistas to include them and having some as destination points.
The tree in the photo above had us all foxed for a while, the flowers and leaves were very wisteria like. It turned out to be an Acacia but more interesting was that it had huge bunches of mistletoe growing in it.
The garden comprised of a lot of ‘rooms’ but ones where you arrived at a dead end and had to turn round and retrace your steps which was a little annoying. There is a lot of repetition of plants and block planting which works quite well, giving a forward moment. It was noticeable that white and cream were favourite colours but we did wonder if this was because there was a lot of shade in the garden and white is a very good colour for lighting shady areas.
The two main plants used in the garden are box and various grasses (forgive me for putting all the grasses under one label). As with many gardens which have formal gardens box blight had struck but the owners were hoping that they had contained it. It was also noticeable that some of the grasses were still looking very dormant and we suspected they had been hit by the hard winter we have had. I suppose this is one of the downside of mass planting, if something gets hit by the weather or a bug it leaves quite a big dent in the garden to be rectified.
Further down the garden you discover a water wonder land which you have to access over a formal rectangular pool. You then come to the more organic shaped water garden which is called the dragon garden. The reason for this unusual name is because the ground and shrubs are shaped into a dragon. There is no photo of this as it was just to hard to show in a photo but you can see the dragon eggs on the island above. For me this area was too bitty which was very distracting.
We then came across the veg patch which is one of the most colourful veg patches I have ever seen, everyone was quite taken with it. Due to the rabbit problem the main veg growing area is fenced in but around the fence there is a lovely cacophony of perennials including a vibrant red potentilla. The colours in these plants are picked up with the sweet peas and the tumbling mounds of nasturiums which are growing out of the raised beds along with the potatos and herbs.
From here you make your way through more shady garden past a newly planted yew walk and to the cottage garden which was full of delightful treasures: lupins, foxgloves, acquilegas and lychnis to name a few. From here you find yourself back at the front of the house and in a secret spring/woodland garden. Throughout the garden we had encountered various sculptures; some we liked some we didn’t but in the woodland garden my friend and I had quite a surprise to encounter a strange looking monk with a pet owl!!
For the last three years the garden has hosted a sculpture exhibition of affordable garden art produced by local artists. The exhibition had finished the week before we visited although there were lots of sculpture in the garden anyway; I do think it will be worth going back to next Spring to see what sculptures they have.