Stocktonbury Gardens near Leominster in Herefordshire is a garden I have visited a number of times over recent years but I have never visited this early in the year and I wanted to see the Skunk Cabbages. I don’t know why it’s just one of those curiosities I have had for a while. Having seen Tamsin tweet they were opening last week I decided to seize the day and put a note in the diary for Sunday. Unsurprisingly the weather was not kind and heavy rain was forecast. The trouble is I am one of those people who sometimes finds it hard to know what to do with themselves when a plan isn’t coming together so off I went. It’s only a 45 minutes drive from me across towards the Black Mountains of Wales and to be honest a drive across country was good for clearing an overcrowded mind.
Once the rain had eased, a bit, I donned my boots and waterproof and borrowed an umbrella from the owner. There is something quite nice about visiting a garden in the rain, however perverse that may seem. I only met one other visitor although I saw a number entering the cafe which has a good reputation. We smiled and agreed that visiting in the rain was rather good and went our separate ways. The Skunk Cabbages are at the far end of the garden in The Dingle and were rather wonderful. I like the luminous yellow of the flowers. In this area the ground is quite damp and the fritillaries were positively romping away. They made my three look quite pathetic.
Stocktonbury Gardens is what I would call a working garden. Whilst it opens on an almost daily basis to the public in season it is actively gardened by the owners and there is a very productive vegetable and fruit production area. I can say it is productive as I have seen it groaning with produce at other times of the year.
Whilst I like the clean lines of this row of fruit trees which draws the eye from the main garden towards the Dingle I found myself increasingly bored with such formality; at least there was no box edging. I know that it isn’t everyone’s taste but I enjoy the more higgeldy approach this garden has in some of the garden rooms. As a gardener I can relate to this style. I want to accommodate the plants I love in my garden and I need the space to work for me, the paths tend to follow my natural route across the garden which takes into account the gradient. I want to maximise planting space which isn’t always possible when a formal or inherently preconceived design is imposed on a space.
I would admit though that some of the curves in the borders are quite extreme but then I know from visiting in the summer than when the plants grow up the strong and tight curves cause the view to be obstructed so why not – it’s a nice counterpoint to the formality of other areas. What I was more interested in was the planting in the borders and the textures achieved with the various foliage even when little is flowering. This is something I am trying achieve in my garden and I find it easier to understand when I can see a good example. I am thinking that I might try to return this year on a regular basis to see how the border actually develops in one season. I have said this before possibly about Stockton Bury or possibly Bryan’s Ground but I am going to try harder this year.
As with any good garden I came away with a number of ideas to try at home. I saw lots of Lathyrus in the borders and although I have two plants I think I need to add more as it provides such a nice hit of colour at this time of year and the leaves are a nice contrast to some of the larger geranium leaves. Oh and the other reason I like this garden is because they have moss in the borders so obviously the ground is as damp as mine can be and it is reassuring to see what does well in these conditions.
It is interesting that you can continue to discover things in a garden you have visited a number of times. I had never noticed the bee boles before. They are located near the house and I hadn’t explored in this area before not being sure whether it was private or not. However the brilliant colours of the Anemone pavonina featured in yesterday’s Wordless Wednesday post lured me over and I discovered what I think is called the Spring Garden. I have a small Spring Garden which is also close to the house so it was interesting to see a similar approach and what was included. I need to add more primroses to mine and maybe even try some fritillaries.
As you can see this garden has changing levels just like mine and I think this is another reason why I relate to it. However, as I have said before, some gardens, for me, just have some kind of spirit about them. I think it is because they are gardened by their owners, rather than by a committee or a head gardener and team. The passion and enthusiasm for plants is contagious and very evident at Stocktonbury Gardens, which is why I enjoy visiting it so much.