Often, I am able to find a garden open which fits into my travel plans and helps break a long journey. Driving North on our way to the River Tay last Saturday, there was very conveniently a garden open, just off the A66 at Appleby-in-Westmoreland.
I love this time of year, so often blue skies and liquid clear light. Not a bit of it today, this was the view through the windscreen as we parked the car!
Never one for letting a drop of rain stop me from having a look at a garden, I quickly crossed the road where the garden gate was wide open. An impressive purple leaved prunus cerasifera pissardii, stands at the front. An unfortunate name for this popular tree, I always think, and we have to blame Monsieur Pissard, a gardener to the Shah of Iran who introduced the tree to France in the 1880s.
The small front garden to the right of the front door, is the newest area and was completed in 2012. Planted with shade loving plants and a variety of shrubs including acers there are already signs of autumn tints.
Across the drive is a little patch of lawn behind which a small woodland garden acts as a sort of buffer to the road and the pub next door.
A path invites us through the oriental arch which has the delicious climbing Jasminum ‘Clotted Cream’ still in flower.
We walk to the left of the house where a clump of bamboo hides the greenhouse and the garden begins to rise up quite steeply behind.
Known as the circle garden it has pots of Dahlia ‘Classic Swan Lake’ which continue to perform in these wet conditions.
Designed by Ian Huckson, who began the planting in 2008, the garden is less than half an acre in size. It is easier to explain the layout with this aerial shot borrowed from Ian’s own website: www. firstname.lastname@example.org. We have entered the stage, so to speak, over to the left.
First we duck under the archway smothered in the leaves of clematis and rose,
and, we could follow the narrow path to the right through the dark leaved sambucus ‘Black lace and acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ to the old apple tree where a wooden seat cunningly curves around its roots and embraces the slope,
but instead we decide to walk on upwards past the slender ‘bollard’ of yew,
keeping the boundary hedge to our left and ignoring the next path to the right. We admire the path positively spilling over with perennials.
In the topmost corner we find a wooden bench,
from where, through the rain, we can take in much of the garden with the central bed containing a selection of grasses intermingled with bright splashes of perennials.
There is so much packed into this border which has a great combination of texture and colour.
It does not matter that this is not an Indian Summer’s day, the back border running along the stone wall has plenty of colour too; sunny helianthus,
tall spikes of cimicifuga racemosa ‘Atropurpurea’,
and the wonderfully sounding salvia ‘Hot lips’.
Glancing back along the dry gravel path we can enjoy asters, sedums and hesperanthus growing around clipped box buns.
An area is divided into raised beds and set aside for the growing of vegetables, fruit and cut flowers. The helichrysum are keeping their blooms tightly closed,
while water drips from the luminous crab apples.
Summer clings on with the last of the sweet peas; growing nearly eight feet high they have to be the tallest that I have encountered.
Steps descend to the level of the house where leafy ferns emerge from the wall and we can gaze up to the garden cascading down. Walking along the length of the cottage we are able to access the greenhouse,
where vines are grown more as a means of shade than a bacchanalian feast,
and Lady Boothby, that brightest of climbing fuchsias, provides a little glamour.
Parahebe ‘Snow clouds’ softens the short stone steps which we ascend,
to find handsome phormium ‘Margaret Jones’ surrounded by the self-seeding anaphalis triplinervis.
Nearby another white flower grows tall and shrubby, it looks suspiciously like Japanese knotweed, but I am assured that it is fagopyrum, the seeds of which are the edible buckwheat.
This little aeonium is not the only one to be drenched,
the rain is really coming down in stair-rods!
It is not easy to garden on a slope but Ian has cleverly designed a garden which is both accessible and beautiful. Paths move us seamlessly around the different areas. His plant list is phenomenal providing a display hard to beat all year round. Even on such a wet day we have enjoyed the splendour of what Tim Richardson describes as ‘the fifth season’. It is hard to believe this once only grew rhubarb!