Cyclamen repandum and cowslips in grass by the lake at Spetchley
I’ve only recently got to know this delightful garden, www.spetchleygardens.co.uk
and will try to make repeat visits through the year. It’s one of those places which feels timeless: lots of big old trees, walled gardens, box-lined beds and paths which lead through a pleasantly bewildering variety of spaces, just full of wonderful plants. This is the perfect ‘plantsman’s garden’, lots of rarities, often very well-established, and very thorough labelling. You can just wander around, at random, crossing and re-crossing your previous routes through, getting different perspectives through the trees, continously finding little nooks and crannies. It is something of a miracle how the staff of four keep on top of it all, and it has to be said that a bit of an atmosphere of faded grandeur is all part of its very characteristic feel.
Owner John Berkeley was one of my customers when I had my nursery north of Bristol many years ago, as head gardener Kate Portman said to me, “I think he knows every nursery in the country”. There are some wonderful plants here, and some lovely combinations. What is particularly interesting is seeing sizable and very well-established examples of garden plants, the most spectacular being what must hundreds of square metres of partially-shaded lawn invaded by self-sowing Lilium martagon.
A total absence of modern design ideas or self-conscious fashion gives this place real character, and a very restful feel. Just as well, as any plant-conscious gardener is also going to be very excited by so much of what is growing here.