►Arcadia!

Several members of the Gardens and Gardening Group our group had visited this garden in Ashley Road when it is open under the National Gardens Scheme, but all agreed that the richness and intricacy of the design and planting here repays repeat visits – possibly many of them!

The owners made us abundantly welcome. They introduced us to the sloping fern bed at the front, lovely from outside, and from inside where a semi basement window looks up and out onto this patchwork of greens and textures.

Then out into the quite small but intensely planted rear garden, with such a lot going on its hard to know where to start. Some examples: a trellis in the back corner supports a clematis armandii with evergreen leaf and white winter-spring flower, wisteria for spring green leaf, purple flower in May and now sports long bright green velvety pods, so tactile! On the same frame a repeat flowering red rose for summer, a wildly twirling grape vine, and even a fig making its way up. Not an inch of wasted space and a delight together as well as each in their season. Backing the comfortable arbour underneath this profusion of climbers is an innovation of one of the owners, an ingenious fern wall crafted from strong wire mesh, carpet underlay and cable ties, with planting pockets holding an array of small ferns, bringing colour and texture to an otherwise dark corner, and greatly increasing the area available for plants.

The exotic leaves of pauwlonia and banana centre the built-up back boundary, with the cool sound of water cascading gently into several pools beside them, bordered with a wide variety of texture, colour, size and shape of foliage.

Rockeries are apparently coming back into fashion, so this garden is ahead of the curve. Conceived to reflect the landscape features of the natural rocky environment, the several rockery areas have naturalistic fault lines between the tufa rocks, they fall in contours, there are surfaces for plants on all sides – again giving more planting spaces in this quite small, flat garden – and the plants are varied, intricate and to scale.

The owners love mountain landscape and foliage, and with 45 varieties of acer, uncounted ferns, ground cover plants, shrubs and trees have created an extraordinary lush haven with imagination and artistry. They made us feel quite at home with great generosity and a wealth of practical information. And then gave us such delicious home made cake!

Thanks so much for all the inspiration!

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