Bridgnorth's Japanese garden
PUBLISHED: 16:40 22 March 2011 | UPDATED: 19:03 20 February 2013
The Japanese-themed grounds at 8 Westgate Villas in Bridgnorth features in the first of a series looking at Shropshire gardens open to the public this year
The garden: 8 Westgate Villas, Salop Street, Bridgnorth, WV16 4QX.
The owners: Dr Marilyn Hammerton and Dr Bill Hammerton.
How the garden was created: The Hammertons moved to their Victorian house in 1981. At that time, the back garden had two pocket-sized lawns with a central concrete path and fussy raised beds full of roses past their best, which were also a feature of the front garden. With four small children, they made a central lawn, surrounded by a circular path with a herb bed and began planting shrub and flower borders. A few years later, the opportunity to purchase part of an adjoining orchard doubled the size of the garden overnight to produce a 38m x 17m (124ft x 56ft) plot. As the children grew and moved away, the lawn decreased in size to allow more planting and form different areas including a shade border, herbaceous beds, a small knot garden and various seating areas with large numbers of potted plants.
A first floor conservatory full of semi-tender plants including jasmine, hoya, epiphyllum and pittosporum tobira, all fragrant, with colour provided by bougainvillea, pelargonium, hibiscus and impatiens, accessed by a spiral staircase was added.
Following an amateur garden design course at Pershore College, Marilyn redesigned the front garden to produce a formal garden with box-hedged beds around a central water feature.
The Hammertons lived in Borneo in the 1970s, travelling extensively in the Far East at that time and then trekking in the Himalayas in the 1990s and love the Oriental style. Following a trip to view the temples and Gardens of Kyoto in Japan in 2001, they built a Japanese style split-level teahouse in their garden. It has a tiny courtyard garden to the rear, with a stainless steel panel reflecting a bubble fountain, lantern, black bamboo and checker-board ophiopogon japonicus minor and granite setts. In front there is a larger Karesansui landscape garden with a dry waterfall, emptying into a gravel sea, containing a boat stone and tortoise island. The Japanese area is a palette of green with seasonal highlightsof colour.
Garden lighting was installed in 2008 and a Chinese pebble path in 2009 with box ball bed leading to the orchard with its Buddhist prayer flags.
Points of interest
The Japanese tea house andgarden, Chinese path and prayer flags which the Hammertons describe as a fusion garden with influences particularly from Japan, China and Tibet, offering peace, tranquillity and escape
The elevated conservatory packed with plants with its balcony and spiral staircase
Three zones of lighting producing subtle white light together with numerous twinkly tea lights produce a magical effect in the garden as dusk falls
The evergreen structural plants such as the cloud pruned ilex crenata and lonicera nitida Baggesons Gold, bamboos, pines, hebes, camellias and rhododendrons are important all year round. Different plants star each month of the year. It is particularly a spring garden with magnolias, a large cherry tree, amelanchiers, daphnes, cornus mas, officialis and kousas, irises and many bulbs of which favourites are fritillaria Michailovskyi and erythroniums as well as tulips and daffodils. Numerous clematis, hostas, a magnificent Rambling Rector rose which has taken over an apple tree, arisaemas and liriopes feature as the year progresses.
Owners gardening tips
For anyone wishing to introduce a Japanese element to their garden:
Read texts on Japanese gardens
Join the Japanese Garden Society (www.jgs.org.uk)
Visit established Japanese gardens in UK such as that at Tatton Park
Source different ornaments such as water bowls, lanterns and statues
Plan thoroughly. Realise that plants in a Japanese garden require regular pruning
Open day highlights:
Opening: Friday, April 8 from 7pm to 9.30pm and Sunday, April 10, 2pm to 5.30pm. Entrance admission is 5 on Friday evening to include wine/soft drink, canaps, lighting and background music and 3.50 (children free) on Sunday afternoon when home-made cakes and tea will be available. There will be plant sales (a percentage of which goes to the NGS).
For details of this and other Shropshire gardens open throughout 2011 see the NGS Yellow Book 2011 or go to www.ngs.org.uk
The national Yellow Book is available at bookshops, priced 9.95 (proceeds go to NGS).
The free Shropshire county leaflet is available at garden centres, tourist offices, libraries, visitor centres, National Trust properties etc.