Garden Visit: Montpelier Cottage

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I had a delightful afternoon visiting Noel Kingsbury and Jo Eliot’s garden in deepest darkest Herefordshire within spitting distance of the Welsh borders.  I nearly didn’t go as I wanted to get on with the front garden but having planted up half the space in the morning and with unexpected blue skies at lunchtime I set off for what is always an enjoyable drive west.

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Noel’s garden is not what many would call the traditional style of garden.  Indeed I ran into someone I know from a garden club who hadn’t visited before and was a little perplexed by the research beds and the intensive planting in some areas and the large meadow and ponds with wildflower planting.   We agreed that it made a nice change from many of the gardens you visit, particularly under the National Garden Scheme, and my fellow garden club member said it had certainly given him real food for thought.

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Personally I really enjoy this garden.  I have visited before, last August, when I went for lunch and had a proper tour with Noel.  The garden demonstrates Noel’s interests in plant communities and how perennials, in particular, grow together.  The area above is a series of research beds with various perennials planted out in blocks to see how they fare in Noel’s heavy clay soil  However, plants are allowed to self seed as is evident from the prolific number of aquilegia and trollis which are scattered around the garden and really pull everything together.

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I really like the intensity of this area of planting with all the purples and cerise flowers; it was alive with insects.  It is this intense style I am trying to achieve but its a style which looks more natural than the traditional style of perennial planting and I think that although it looks so natural it is quite hard to make work well.  It is one of those things that everyone thinks looks easy until you try it yourself. As the year progresses the grasses and late perennials which are currently hidden amongst the early flowering plant will have bulked up and bring a new wave of interest and colour.

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And finally a real surprise as Noel’s Aeoniums are already out on the patio, and have been out for two weeks.  Mine are still lurking in the greenhouse and looking the worse for it so this week they will be moved out into the fresh air and hopefully it wont be long before they look as glossy and healthy as Noel’s.

I’m off to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show tomorrow and it will be interesting to see if any of the show gardens, with all their immaculate planting, have the same sense of place as Noel and Jo’s garden; I suspect not.

9 thoughts on “Garden Visit: Montpelier Cottage

  1. Lovely garden. Everything is burgeoning out now with the sunshine and rain. We open our garden in Herts this Bank Holiday weekend and will have loads of plants for sale and fabulous entertainment… I too love plants to self seed – they grow best where they want to………

  2. Beautiful! I’m always happy to look at these kinds of gardens, since achieving this kind of look is almost impossible in the desert. So lush!

  3. Hi Helen – Love the randome type of gardening – I am not a straight row person!!! Winter suddenly upon us – last week still in summer clothes and 23 degrees and suddenly a southerly buster from the South (Cold) and South Island has lots of snow and silly people in trouble. Back to my winter uniform or jeans and jumpers! Enjoy Chelsea for me – I don’t think I will ever see it. Have to rely on photos and hopefully TV – altho’ I don’t have Sky and UKTV on Sky. Waiting to see your front garden and how it is coming on!

  4. We visited last year when it was open for the NGS. I really liked the garden with its relaxed feel where as Irene who prefers a more formal look not so much. It must be a joy to live there.

  5. I love this garden – a place to wander and wonder, full of interest and color. The thing about gardens and those who love to garden is that it isn’t meant to impress anyone else, it is just one’s own patch of heaven – weeds, experiments and all !

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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