“…the finest garden in the East Midlands.” Good Gardens Guide
A large claim to live up to. My heart sank a bit when I read the flowery breathless description which follows: “Blessed with a south facing slope”, “waterfowl which now greet and entertain you”, “surreal Alice in Wonderland flamingoes” “quintessential bluebell wood whose perfume permeates the air in May …”.
However, on a sunny day in late summer what’s not to love about a beautiful building, with sculptural topiary and wonderful pots? A promise of tea in the shade of a wonderful huge tree and a plant stall if that is your fix: what more could you ask? I imagine the average visitor is well pleased. Despite numerous forbidding notices:
I think superior because the planting is simple and telling – the strong red here stops this collection descending into pastel prettiness, and there is none of that depressing business of stuffing the pots with half a dozen different plants shouting at each other.
It’s when it escapes the constraint and flattery of the walls and terracing that trouble begins.
And perhaps this bench tells the tale – the gardens’ origins were in the 1950’s. Not our best garden making period: wiggly borders created with hosepipes, sentimentality, randomly mixed borders.
We begin with a ‘woodland walk’, which as ever with such things resembles no wood and not much of a walk. The plants are carefully tended and separated so as to eliminate any possibility of a natural appearance: it is a miracle that hart’s tongue fern can be generously planted by a natural stream and manage to look totally arranged and artificial:
It perhaps doesn’t help that the stream has been canalized and the path paved. Plant labels kill any remaining possibility of an appropriate atmosphere and everywhere the garden is overgardened – in those places where relaxation is required there never any let up of manicuring and faffing about:
And a notice as a focal point rather detracts:
After this it all rather runs out of steam. The Good Gardens Guide entry applauds the lack of colour consciousness in the borders: “nowhere is there a slavish adherence to themed colours”. We would all applaud an independent mind bringing fresh perspectives, but the result in this case is no more than a feeling of repetition and a fading of energy. It has to be a loss to ignore the possibilities of dynamic colour schemes or simple plant arrangements, but fuss and mix continue throughout:
Nice teas. There’s a parrot that will say ‘bye bye’ to you.
The Good Gardens Guide gives it two stars. (!) (Has the Good Gardens Guide had its day, now the web can do a better job?)
You can visit hers and demolish it in revenge: Veddw House Garden website