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An oasis in a city – the Emma Bridgwater Courtyard Garden

On a sunny day in late June we set off to the city, Stoke-on-Trent, to visit two gardens. Emma Bridgwater Pottery shop has its own courtyard garden with its own gardener caring for it and nurturing every plant. I had read the book he had recently written and emjoyed his words and the accompanying photos so wished to see it in real life. The second garden was Trentham, one of our favourite gardens and one we visit often. This visit was to see for the first time the new meadow plantings by Nigel Dunnett. These will be the subject of a following post. First we visit the courtyard garden.

The raised beds in the entrance courtyard are an antedote to the city, to the factory behind.

We arrived in temperatures nearing 30C and started off with drinks in the cafe there before wandering through the pottery shop exiting a doorway at its far end that was the entrance to this secret garden. It felt a special place, an atmosphere of colour, calmness and peace in a city. the blue of the window frames, the step banisters and various railings are enhanced by the greens and other colours of the flowers in the beds. The entrance is softened and made more welcoming.

   

We wonder if this is going to be the garden in its entirity but are heartened when Jude spots a sign to the “Courtyard Garden”. Peering through the door as we step over is threshhold we are amazed by what is before us inviting us to explore. The garden is no bigger than a back yard of a terraced house, but it packed a punch in the gentlest way possible.

     

The brightest colour came from sweet peas, dahlias, lilies and other more subtle colour was provided by hardy herbaceous plants. The sun brought out their colours and the accompanying shadows emphasised their textures. Annuals were dotted through the borders, poppies and phacelia.

     

       

The gentle clucking and chatter of Pekin hens and the chirp of their chicks provided a calming backdrop and cut out the traffic sounds from nearby roads.

 

As we left the courtyard we noticed a display of succulent Echeverias in terracotta pots alongside the door close to a beautiful self-seeded native Euphorbia. This little patch of garden inside the city was so gentle and succeeded in hiding the sights and sounds of the busyness outside its walls.

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colours garden design garden photography gardening gardens gardens open to the public grasses hardy perennials light light quality National Garden Scheme NGS ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs outdoor sculpture photography Yellow Book Gardens

Aulden Farm – another Yellow Book garden

We open our garden under the auspices of the National Garden Scheme and love to see our garden in its famous Yellow Book. But we also love to visit other gardens from the Yellow Book.

We recently visited Aulden Farm which is in Herefordshire, our neighbouring county and we were particularly keen to wander around this garden as it has a similar description to our own in their Yellow Book entry although it is much larger! “Informal country garden surrounding old farmhouse, three acres planted with wildlife in mind. Emphasis on structure and form, with a hint of quirkiness, a garden to explore with eclectic planting.”

We had a lovely drive through beautiful countryside before parking on the grass verge and wandering up the gravel drive leading to Aulden Farm’s garden. A gravel area surrounded by interesting planting was a great place to enjoy tea and homemade cakes.

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Alongside the tea courtyard was a gravel garden in front of a beautiful barn close to tumbling down. Verbena bonariensis was the star in this garden and the afternoon lit it up dramatically. Butterflies were attracted to it as much as me and my camera. This was an area full of texture and interest too good for any photographer to miss.

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We eventually left behind our tea, cakes, verbenas and butterflies and wandered, suitably refreshed, through the shade garden where the low rays of the sun created pools of light and shade. from here we could choose different routes through the garden described in its own leaflet as “very relaxed, tranquil and some even say romantic, but that is for you to decide”. So we couldn’t wait to find out for ourselves.

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Now come for a walk with us around this beautiful garden by enjoying my gallery. Please click on the first photo and navigate with the arrows.

I hope you enjoyed this photographic journey around this wonderful garden. Is it romantic? Yes, definitely so! This is a garden with atmosphere.

We left with an invitation to return whenever we wanted – bliss.

In my next couple of posts about Aulden Farm gardens I will share my images of two special families of plants that caught the beautiful light that day and my imagination, Persicarias and Rudbeckias and also a look at some of the wide ranging sculpture we enjoyed there.