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.