Stone House Cottage Garden, Worcestershire

I’m on annual leave for two weeks with no plans at all during this first week.  I have done stuff in the garden and house but half way through the week I got itchy feet and needed a change of scenery and some stimulation.   I had a ponder about where to go and decided to finally get around to visiting Stone House Cottage Garden and Nursery.  It has been recommended to me a number of times and I have read a few interesting articles on it over the years.  Less than an hours  drive from me it seemed very inviting.

I wasn’t sure what to expect especially at this time of year when garden can often seem to have gone over.  The first path I took wasn’t that inspiring as you can see above.  I am sure it looks wonderful earlier in the year as the ground is covered in geraniums but this is obviously its down time.  Off a couple of paths lined with yew there are various paths leading to small intimate garden spaces.

I really liked these narrow spaces which was surprising as often in the past I have found lots of clipped hedges claustrophobic but I think in this garden the borders draw your eye away from the hedge although in the winter I am sure the hedges add wonderful winter interest.  The other thing I was really interested in was the narrowness of some of the borders and how much was in them.  This was particularly interesting given the size of my garden and borders and my plantaholic tendencies.

I found myself even pacing out the depth of the borders which drew a curious look from another visitor.  So many gorgeous interesting plants and I was quietly chuffed that there were quite a few I have already although that really makes me sound like I have a problem.  The textures of the foliage are so interesting, something which I think is the way to go when you are planting in shady settings and an approach I am trying to take.

From the shady areas you come to the house and this interesting paved brick area where there were all sorts of small delights.  I mentioned in a post last week that I was thinking of converting part of my garden to a raised veg area when I give up the allotment but this morning doubts had started to creep in and seeing this area as fed those doubts and pushed the idea of a similar area with a nice bench.

A close up of the border you can see in the background of the above photograph.  Here I found myself peering under the plants at the front to see how they manage to plant up so close to the grass without everything flopping and causing problems for grass cutting.  Lots of hidden staking – more food for thought.

This though was the area that made me say ‘wow’ out loud.  The border was a mass of bees and other pollinators all enjoying the mix of phloxs and monardas.  This is the second garden in the last month I have seen with masses of phlox and I am definitely thinking about where I can incorporate something similar although a lot smaller.  I asked the owner about the border and whether it had one season of interest or more.  She confirmed that, as I suspected, this border had one season of interest and was the only one like it in the garden.  I don’t think that is a problem and I find myself getting torn between having parts of the garden looking great at one part of the year and then thinking they look dull the rest of the year.   I wonder if it just a case that in a large garden you can have areas which you ignore for part of the year whereas in a smaller garden everything has to work much harder.  Saying that though I have found that when I have started to add other things to a border to try to extend the season the whole effect is diluted.  Even more to ponder.

The garden at Stone House Cottage is now one of my favourite local gardens along with Bryans Ground in Herefordshire.  Interestingly they are similar in their compartmentalized approach, the long hedges, romantic planting and eccentric and wonderful buildings.  It seems to me that this is my style of garden. Whilst I don’t have space for the hedges and alleys I can try to emulate the planting style.  I particularly like Stone House Cottage as it has many unusual plants, something that the nursery is known for and which consequently meant I came home a little poorer than I went and the plant list I also bought back means poverty beckons even more.

The garden is open along with the nursery as all the plants for sale are in the garden too but it also opens for the National Garden Scheme.



19 Comments Add yours

  1. The Enduring Gardener says:

    That looks fab Helen, lovely photos.

  2. Christina says:

    Garden visiting is something I miss being able to do here; so I very much appreciate virtually visiting with other bloggers. I do think that it is hard to have ‘resting areas’ in a small garden and is a problem when you want to create a particular border that peaks in one short season. It can be achieved by planting in layers, or by perhaps creating deeper borders that flower from front to back, the eye being drawn to the flowering part. In larger gardens it can be restful to have areas that peak at one time of year. The original planting at Sissinghurst castle was very much seasonally planned. I love the spring walk there where the only interest in other seasons is the beautifully trained pleached hedges. Good luck with your plans. Christina

  3. croftgarden says:

    I visited this garden many years ago – it is certainly matured but in many respects unchanged which I suppose is the value of “good bones”. Bryans Ground was in its infancy when I visited and I’d love to see how it has grown. I do miss garden visiting.

  4. hillwards says:

    Looks lovely – I too have this on my ‘to visit’ list after some interesting articles in the past year or two.
    We have several phlox (mostly paniculatas) tucked around our little garden, they are quite unassuming most of the year, but a blaze of colour – and scent – at the minute, and not bulky plants, they don’t tend to get in the way.

  5. Judy says:

    Oh, if we only had these types of gardens to visit here in New England. Thank you for sharing your tour of such a beautiful setting.

  6. Sensible gardening says:

    What Fun it must be tour such great gardens, from where I live In western Canada where it is very arid we must be satisfied to see them in books. Everything is so lush compared to here.

  7. I am so pleased that you have discovered this garden – when you talked about phlox in a recent blog I nearly emailed you to alert you to its existence. I loved this garden when we made a slight detour to it on our way from the Midlands to South Wales last year, but it was the border with the monarda and phlox that bowled me over. A real ‘wow!’ moment, as you said. It was probably about a month earlier in the year when we visited, and from my own photos I would say this border was even better then. Up to that point I did not have any monarda in the garden, and the owner made sure she pointed out that they wouldn’t suit all conditions; nevertheless, some came with us to Wales and back home again a few days later where they have since settled in and are flowering. They will need staking, though, where haven’t got neighbours to snuggle up against.

  8. Funny you should mention that large gardens can afford to have beds with fewer seasons of interest, because I was thinking about the same thing. I’m trying to re-design a small bed and trying to ensure blooms for spring, late spring- early summer, mid-summer, and late summer-fall requires so many plants that you run the risk of looking like a hodge podge unless you have a lot of space. But that’s so frustrating, because you want every part of your garden to be beautiful for every part of the year.

  9. Paul Steer says:

    Looks like it has soul Helen, really enjoyed your review.

  10. Libby says:

    Very nice! More hidden staking is definitely a good thing. I find the problem is getting round to doing it early enough…

  11. Anna says:

    Ooooooooh you have stirred the dim and distant recesses of my memory Helen. We visited Stone House many moons ago and said that we must return but as yet have not. Greg was fascinated by all the structures whilst for me it was the plants. Will definitely have to head that way again. There is a seller at the Malvern Show who sells some brilliant stakes according to a gardening friend – she gave me a shopping list to take to the spring show 🙂

  12. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Yvonne – NZ -Lovely garden -Nice and informal!

  13. Holleygarden says:

    What a gorgeous garden. I wondered about walking down those paths if I would feel a bit claustrophobic or not. Love the first shot!

  14. I was fascinated by some of the beds and how they staked them as well as the narrowness. I liked that raised brick area as well…just gorgeous throughout.

  15. What a wonderful garden! So much character, I want to visit soon!

  16. What a lovely place, I really like narrow paths that mean you have to push past lush planting – though not so much fun when it has just been raining I suppose… That small garden dilemma, whether to go for areas with only one season of interest or try and have all areas with an extended season, so difficult. I think to some extent you can get away with different borders coming in to their own at different times, because as long as the “quieter” areas have interesting foliage and therefore texture, they provide somewhere to rest the eye and a contrast to the “wow” areas. Very tricky though, and I get cross sometimes by the way that “small garden” in magazines and on TV usually seems to mean “only quarter of an acre” rather than the plots most of us have to deal with, so you don’t get as many interesting ideas.

    Enjoy finding room for your new plants though – and hey, if using the planned vege area for another interesting place for plants gets you excited, go for it! You can buy fruit and veg and the supermarket, but you can’t buy the kind of thrill you can get from plants and working out how to arrange them in new and interesting ways.

  17. Beautiful photos of Stone House, thanks for sharing!

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.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s