Stocktonbury Gardens

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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.

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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.

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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.

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2014_04060092Whilst 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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17 Comments Add yours

  1. Pauline says:

    What a super garden to visit, I could relate to lots of it, not the formality, but the less formal areas. What a lot of white fritillaries they have amongst the purple, they looked so lovely, obviously happy where they were, it doesn’t look as if they have a pheasant problem there!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Pauline
      I think the white fritillaries show off the purple ones better

  2. alison says:

    Your write-up and photos have inspired me to visit these gardens. I rather like the formality but then that’s what makes us all garden in our own way. Having said that, I love the lush, natural planting in your last photo. What are the grassy ‘domes’ in the small photo?

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Alison
      I think they are hemerocallis but could be wrong

  3. Yvonne Ryan says:

    What a gorgeous cold weather/English garden in spring!

  4. croftgarden says:

    This is one of my favourite gardens, it has an interesting balance of formality and fluidity. I’ve not been for 5 or 6 years and it is interesting to see how the garden has developed and matured in such a short time.

  5. rusty duck says:

    There would be much to inspire me here too, the different levels and the boggy bits, an area of my garden I have ignored up to now. Skunk cabbages will definitely be on the list, don’t they look good when there’s a few of them.

  6. I’ve enjoyed reading through your visit to Stocktonbury. I’ve been a few times but usually late spring/early summer, or autumn, so it’s good to see how it looks early spring. Your photos show that it’s an interesting garden to explore any time of the year. One of the things I like about Stocktonbury, as you mentioned. is that you always see something new that you missed last time. I think I missed the bee boles the first time too! I look forward to seeing future posts about Stocktonbury through the year, if of course, you have time!

  7. Anna says:

    Garden visiting in the rain can be fun and it certainly weeds out the faint hearted. Stockton Bury Gardens is still very high up on my wish list to visit Helen so must try and make it this year. Moss in the borders – I would be at home too. It’s great when you visit a garden and come away with ideas that you feel you could use at home.

  8. Hi Helen, I saw skunk cabbages at the Berlin Botanical Gardens and was very taken with them. Thanks for the reminder that I should like to buy some. Dave

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Dave
      Beware the skunk cabbage, I am told they can take over and are smelly! However I didn’t notice any smell when I saw them

  9. Cathy says:

    Not come across this place before. It’s good to go to the same garden at different times of the year, isn’t it, as it shows things in a different perspective.

  10. I remember the skunk cabbages in Berlin Botanical Gardens too. There they were in a boggy area without standing water and had a strangely evil look about them. I love the look of Stocktonbury – will look forward to your reports later in the year

  11. Rick says:

    The Skunk Cabbage as its name implies does have a bad odour particularly when the leaves are crushed, the white Asian species Lysichiton camtschatcensis AGM tends not to have the bad smell and is sometimes described as having a sweet scent. There is a garden nearby where both are grown and although I can certainly vouch for the malodorous Lysichiton americanus AGM being unpleasant, I have always found the Asian species to be less unpleasant rather than sweet smelling.

  12. bittster says:

    If I had a damp enough area I would surely grow the skunk cabbages! I’ve been foolishly trying to get seed even though the planting space doesn’t exist here. Not quite sure why I persist on these things :/
    The spring garden looks great. I hadn’t thought of placing hellebores on the top of a wall, they really show to good effect… I suppose I also need a nice wall in addition to a large bog garden!

  13. Diana Studer says:

    your fritillaries will become gloriously many. Like my Lachenalia which have seeded with enthusiasm. My pots overflow!

  14. Thank you for coming to Stockton Bury and writing about your findings. Every day something new flowers and watching this garden grow up with me is what made me decide to become a gardener. My Uncle and his partner work every hour and it’s a joy for me to now be helping them. Look forward to meeting fellow gardeners who visit this year.

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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