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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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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.