The Valley Garden

The wonderful thing about bank holidays is that they give you an opportunity to go garden visiting and still do all the other things that demand time at the weekend.  So Easter Monday found me taking to the road and wandering along the wonderful A449 from Ledbury to Ross-on-Wye – this road is worth driving down just for the sake of it, the countryside is gorgeous.

My destination was The Old Corn Mill near Newent which was opening for the NGS.  I didn’t do any research in advance so had no idea what to expect and was pleasantly pleased with what I found.  The garden surrounds an old Mill which has been modernised, in fact it was awarded the award for Best Conversion/Renovation in the 1999 Daily Telegraph Homebuilding competition.  Being a Mill Garden there is naturally a stream and the whole site is located in the bottom of a valley.  You are given a leaflet when you arrive with information about the house and garden and I quickly spotted that the garden was designed for ease of maintenance, to provide year round interest and included a woodland walk.

The leaflet also explained that most of the plants had been propagated by the owner and this probably explains the repetition of plants around the garden and the huge drifts.  To be honest I find myself moving more and more towards this approach in my own garden instead of the mad dotty approach I have had due to my inability to resist plants!!  The planting throughout the garden is predominantly herbaceous with a backdrop of shrubs and trees.  This is not a garden for people who like strong structure such as hard landscaping, topiary, hedges etc.  The structure of The Old Corn Mill Garden comes from the way the slope has been used and I found this particularly interesting since like my garden the land slopes up from the house.  They haven’t gone for lots of hard landscaping but instead have put in grass or bark paths and planted up the rest of the slope.  The paths are wide and generous and I spent quite a bit of time looking at this and wondering if I could do the same instead of my sloping lawn which is a pain.

The only thing that jarred with me was one bed where there were colourful bright tulips amongst the planting.  The brightness of these flowers amongst the subtler planting surprised me and I’m not convinced it was right but that is purely my personal opinion and I expect the owner welcomed the brightness of the flowers after the long grey winter we have had.

I liked the shadiness of the woodland walk and the cool stillness of the pool.  I also liked the way that from the shady areas you were drawn forward to the sunny open areas and vice versa.  As it was a very warm sunny day the shade was definitely very welcome.

Another feature of this garden was the sculpture doted around the garden, as in the top photo.  There was a combination of quite formal sculpture but also amusing whimsical ones.  Given that the garden is about 1.5 acres this worked and again I wondered about introducing some sculpture into my garden.  Sadly my purse doesnt stretch to the sort of sculpture I  like but I did leave wondering about looking for reclaimed items that I could put in the garden to draw the eye etc.

All  in all whilst the garden wasn’t as pristine as some would expect (there were weeds but I didn’t think they detracted, better than bare earth!) it made me think about my garden and consider ways  of doing things differently or better.  To me this is  everything I would want from a garden visit – food for thought and impressions that will stay with me for a while.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Alison says:

    I love NGS garden visiting – it is so good for getting ideas – I find things I like and don’t like and both are equally informative. It looks a really nice garden.

  2. Garden art, a focal point – how many possibilities. I have to find something I can live with and afford. Have inherited three sculptures from my sister, which are now at home in the garden. Uncle George swims in the pond. We have a ‘kingfisher’ on the jetty. And I love vibrant glazed pots … That trick with repetition of happy plants – is what I will be working on tomorrow. The ground is wet, I can take cuttings!

  3. Christina says:

    Helen, thank you for such a vivid description of the garden, I felt I was there visiting with you. You are right about many plants making so much more of an impact than one or two ‘special’ things. As you know my sloping bank in being filled with plants that have self seeded throughout the garden. It may also get very full of Verbascum chaxii hybrids I sowed the whole packet as it was very old and the 1000 content seems to all have germinated!

  4. I’ve been filling spaces in my garden with plants I’ve grown too – I was worried it would look a bit samey, but actually the repetition is rather lovely. I rather wish I could bring the garden with me to Canada. Still, a new start and a new garden!

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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