Following our departure from Nailsea our first visit was to The Court House at Stretton-on-the-Fosse. A beautiful 4 acre garden set around a handsome Georgian house in local stone. Of particular note was a restored kitchen garden in very good heart, attractive herbaceous borders and interesting topiary. The outer reaches of the garden were separated from the area near the house by a ha-ha.
After an efficiently served lunch in the Rose and Crown at Feckenham a short hop down the road brought us to Meadow Farm. The current owners have created a magnificent garden containing every plant imaginable. They run an extensive nursery supplying plant shows and fairs and have a well stocked plant sales area for visiting groups. Across the drive is a wild flower meadow providing habitat to many butterflies backed by a small woodland.
Overnight accommodation was provided by Chesford Grange Hotel near Kennilworth.
Day 2 commenced with a visit to the Mill Garden. The Garden is a half acre informal cottage garden originally created by Arthur Measures, now owned and maintained by his daughter and her husband. It lies in a superb setting beneath the walls of Warwick Castle, beside the River Avon. It is a garden of winding paths that lead through a delightful series of plantings with an abundance of plants, shrubs and trees. Around every corner there are dramatic views of the Castle, medieval bridge, Castle Mill and the river. It is a place of peace and beauty.
Next on the itinerary was Hill Close Gardens. These gardens are a very rare example of Victorian detached leisure gardens which were originally located on the outskirts of many towns. Local people have worked tirelessly to save Hill Close Gardens from destruction and redevelopment. The massive clearance and restoration effort that followed has created a site of national importance. Today the Gardens are beautifully restored and have become a significant historic and educational amenity for the local population.
Packwood House is famed for the topiary of its ancient yews. An avenue rising from the house leads to a mound which can be climbed via a spiral path enclosed within yew hedges. The National Trust have done an impressive job on the herbaceous borders which were at their best in July. A walk in the park takes one through a wood and down to the lake. Interesting modern sculpture is displayed in various locations.
We were at Packwood for lunch and the whole afternoon so there was plenty of time to tour the Tudor redbrick house as well as the garden.
A second night at Chesford Grange lead us into Day 3.
First on the agenda was Avondale Nursery. An introductory talk was given by the owner.
The nursery is divided into 2 areas. A stock garden in which visitors are free to wander shows the potential purchaser how plants should look planted in the ground.
The sales area carries most of the plants seen in the garden. Needless to say many people went over the top as usual an added extensively to their collections at home – much to the horror of our driver Steve.
Then on to Elm Close in Welford-on-Avon. This is a small cottage garden with some unusual plants. Well-packed vegetable garden in small area. Unusual way of growing herbaceous clematis. The garden had recently been reduced in size to make it more manageable for the elderly owners.
Following lunch at the next door Bell Inn we re-boarded the coach and motored south to Rockcliffe in the heart of the Cotswolds. This was the icing on the cake. It is a large traditional English garden of 8 acres set around a beautiful Georgian house. We were lead on a tour by the head gardener to the pink garden, white and blue garden, herbaceous border, rose terrace and large walled kitchen garden. A pathway of topiary birds leads up through an orchard to the stone dovecot with splendid views back to the house. A dramatic formal pond is surrounded by 6 large cornus contraversa variegata. The Fagus party was treated to a leisurely cream tea in the orangery.
This was one of the best Fagus tours yet – congratulations to the organisers.