I spent a wonderful day yesterday at Lower Hope near Ullingswick in Herefordshire. I was there on a Pests and Diseases Workshop organised by the WFGA and I have to say I think it is fair to say all of us were bowled over by the gardens and location.
Lower Hope is tucked away in amongst the valleys of Herefordshire with the River Lugg running not far away. It is a private garden although it does open to the public under the National Garden Scheme and also for visits from horticultural groups. I don’t think I have seen a private garden on this scale so well maintained. It is looked after by Brian Hall, the Head Gardener (who was our host for the day), 2 other full-time gardeners and 2 part-time trainees from WFGA.
The first thing that really struck me about the gardens was the quality of the lawns – they are simply immaculate. I have never seen such pristine lawns so it came as no surprise that Brian revealed that his original career plan had been to maintain golf courses. We were given tips and advice on how to achieve this sort of lawn though I am sure if Brian saw mine he would agree it was a lost cause.
After the lawns you notice the roses – there are a lot of roses. Personally I’m not a fan of rose beds but apparently the owner, Mr Richards, is and after all it is his garden. Not only were there numerous large beds of roses but climbing roses and standards; all in tip-top health – tips were shared and noted.
But for me the real attraction was the herbaceous borders. There were two long borders running parallel either side of one lawn which you can see a bit of in the top photo; there was also another long border leading down to the formal lake and then some island borders. All were well stocked and staked and a good example of what to me is a prerequisite of a real English country garden.
Interestingly there is no kitchen garden although there is a very pretty formal herb garden tucked away. But even more fascinating are the conservatories. There are three – one your more traditional pool side conservatory with seating etc but then there is a tropical greenhouse which is kept at such a level of heat and humidity that tropical butterflies seem to be thriving, in fact we were privileged to see a newly hatched Atlas Moth. There is also another conservatory which is kept less humid. These are all ornamental glasshouses, there are working ones and a poly tunnel as well.
During the day we looked at various glasshouse pests through a hand lens and the biological controls, we visited an award-winning fruit farm and ate cherries off the tree destined for M&S (nothing but the best!) and we had our lunch sitting by the large lake in the wildflower meadow (below) and we even saw a trout jumping.
I have to say there really is no nicer way to spend a sunny June day.