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Westgate Villa, a Japanese garden in Shropshire

Jude and I have a soft spot for gardens with a Japanese feel to them, and we are lucky to have an excellent example in our home county of Shropshire and just a short drive away. We had heard of the garden at Westgate in Bridgnorth and always intended to pay a visit but circumstances had not allowed us to. But eventually we managed to make their National Garden Scheme open day in April.

It was well worth the wait! We loved it, the planting, the structure and its special atmosphere. The front garden however was of a very different feel altogether being a formal garden designed to match the age and style of the house. Foliage was the star there!

On the flight of steps nearby foliage again featured but this time succulents were the stars.

   

Moving around the house looking in small borders and corners we found interesting plants and objects that gave clues to the beauty of the Japanese section we were making our way towards. This area prepared us so well for the treat that lay ahead of us.

      

We stepped through an archway into a different world with an atmosphere of such peace that it made us feel so calm. The Japanese garden at Westgate was one of the best examples we have ever seen in an English garden. Come with us on a journey through such a special place. To view the gallery click on the first photo and navigate using the arrows.

 

 

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autumn autumn colours colours fruit and veg garden design garden designers garden photography gardening gardens gardens open to the public grasses hardy perennials Italian style gardens light light quality meadows ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs photography Piet Oudolf shrubs Staffordshire Tom Stuart-Smith trees

A garden in September – Trentham

So here we are back for the September visit to the wonderful gardens at Trentham. We arrived in bright sunshine which was a big change to the usual weather on our visits here. Usually we get wet but today looked set fair with blue sky with just a scattering of white clouds. As we walked over the bridge into the gardens we looked down into the River Trent below to see it swollen with floodwater and carrying much dirt in its wake. The water of the Trent flowed brown and the grasses of Piet Oudolf’s River of Grasses refleced this colour.

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Moving into Oudolf’s Prairie there was much more variety in the colours although grasses remained powerful elements. The tall herbaceous perennials were showing deepening colours as autumn approaches. Rich rubies, purples and blues were, in places, lit up by the crisp white of the Seleniums and sunny yellows of Solidago.

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Leaving the subtle but at the same time exciting Prairie we wandered off towards the Italian Garden with its traditional style of planting. We passed through a Hornbeam tunnel where the autumnal light played with shadows. Leaving its coolness our eyes were assaulted by Begonias and brightly leaved bananas.

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We always look forward to our first glimpse of the delights that await us in Tom Stuart-Smith’s Italianate parterres. Looking from the balustrade the view spread out below in the geometric beds promised so much of interest, while a quick glance below showed bursts of red Dahlias and yellow Rudbeckias.

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Once down among the many beds we soon discovered just what flowers were giving us the colourful sights.

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These colours were enriched all the more by the russets and chocolates of the grasses and seed heads of perennials such as Phlomis and Verbascums.

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We reluctantly left the Tom S-S plantings behind us and ambled off through the tall trees of the old parkland towards the display gardens. We glanced at the early autumn colours of Prunus trees between the silver bark of the trunks of Betula. Some Betula trunks were showing their great age and their textures contrasted strongly with their younger smoother neighbours.

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Rhus trees were showing deep orange foliage which matched the petals of a lovely Dahlia.

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Elsewhere another Rhus partnered a red leaved Cotinus. Coloured glass leaves atop silver stems added more colour close by.

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White and purple spires of Actaea caught the light.

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In the Allotment Garden orange globes of pumpkins were drying in the sun and heat of this Indian Summer.

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After a light lunch we made our way towards the Rose Walk to see how things had changed since our visit last month. We passed back through some of the Tom S-S borders where we were drawn for a closer look towards the long thin seed pods of Amsonias.

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Seedheads and dying flower heads of many different perennials and grasses were so enthralling that our walk back through these borders took rather longer than anticipated.

 

 

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A long line of thin rectangular borders designed by Piet Oudolf act as a link between the Tom S-S garden and the Rose Walk. Here colour abounded.

 

 

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In the Rose Walk itself most rose bushes were still in flower and tall flowers such as Cleome and Verbena bonariensis added even more colour.

 

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We enjoyed the views from the Rose Walk back towards Oudolf’s Prairie and River of Grasses. We could also see the shrubs growing alongside it including a spectacular deciduous Euonymous with orange and red fruits.

 

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So this Indian Summer we are enjoying provided us with great light to view the gardens at Trentham but the strange seasons mean that many perennials and grasses were far more autumnal than we could have expected. Next month’s return to Trentham may well show Trentham to be well in the grip of Autumn.

 

 

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Waddeston – not my style of garden but …….

We went to Waddeston by default! We were planning to visit another garden in Oxfordshire, but as we got close we decided to check the details of the garden, especially how to find it. The trouble was the garden details also showed that we were visiting on a day when it was closed. Oops!!

Plan B quick! Luckily we found another garden literally a mile from where we had parked up to get directions to our original destination. From the description in our book, the garden at Waddeston did not sound my style of gardening but the architecture of the house itself sounded interesting. So we decided to go and have a look.

We arrived to discover Waddestonto be an architecturally fussy building in the style of a French chateau. I admired it but didn’t like it. Jude, the Undergardener liked it a lot.

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There were lots of fussy little details in the building, such as this ornate gate post.

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The gardens close to the house were very formal similar to the bedding schemes found in our town parks. Too bright and again too fussy for my liking.

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But this one bed was interesting as the colours were far more subtle. It turned out that this border was based on ancient lace work from the house.

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Walking a few minutes from the house into the more informal areas of the garden we came across a real surprise, a very ornate terrace of aviaries housing rare birds. These birds were being bred with the intention of building up species numbers and reintroducing them back into their natural habitats.

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Further from the house away from the formal gardens there were small cameos which interested me more.

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So, although I was unsure when we arrived at Waddeston, I will now admit that I did enjoy the visit. Even though I found the rigidity of the formal bedding schemes with their gaudy colours unpleasant, I can see that they were well executed here.