Windy Ridge gardens at Little Wenlock
PUBLISHED: 12:16 15 August 2011 | UPDATED: 09:18 11 February 2013
An award winning garden in Little Wenlock opens to the public this month under the National Gardens Scheme
An award winning garden in Little Wenlock opens to the public this month under the National Gardens Scheme.
Windy Ridge has been a long labour of love for owners George and Fiona Chancellor.
Fiona takes up the story: When we moved here 26 years ago, the garden was mainly rough grass with a few weed-infested borders and a filled-in swimming pool. Apart from planting a few trees we did very little for ten years; then when our youngest child was able to swim, we created a large pond with a stream running into it.
The main landscaping followed on from a garage extension in 2000, which provided enough spare soil to terrace the back garden.
We then landscaped the front garden in 2005, creating topiary and a formal pool, and finally dug up the lawn by the drive last year to create a more contemporary gravel garden with grasses and perennials.
Apart from some professional help with the brickwork, its all our own work!
The garden consists of a series of interconnected areas, each with its own identity related to some type of focal point. This might be a seat, urn, sculpture, statue or even a giant pair of Wellington boots, thus providing a view around every corner.
The planting is chosen to provide structure and foliage interest, each area having a colour theme which runs through the year. For example the lilac and purple border has alliums in spring, thalictrums and geraniums in summer and asters in the autumn.
There are well over 1,000 varieties of plants, some rare, mostly labelled, and the owners provide a plant list so visitors can mark down their favourites.
The garden has won four different garden awards, including The Daily Mail National Garden Competition which had some 2,000 entries.
This is the fourth year the garden has been opened under the National Gardens Scheme and has received hundreds of visitors from all over the country so far.
It seems to appeal to all ages, with many visitors staying for hours! said Fiona, and this year it is hoped the open event and private visits will help raise 4,000 for charity.
My favourite tree is a Cornus controversa Variegata, also known as The Wedding Cake Tree due to its tiered habit, which looks striking at all times of year. I also love the Robinia Lace Lady planted next to the millstone fountain, which looks like a large bonsai tree with curled leaves and twisted branches.
I prefer perennials with a long season of interest such as astrantias, sedums, eryngiums and achilleas. One plant which has attracted a lot of attention this year is a new form of echinacea called Pixie Meadowbrite, a dwarf form which has established well (unlike most varieties of echinacea!) and is covered with beautiful pink flowers which the bees love.
Fionas Top Gardening Tips:
Make sure you get rid of all perennial weeds before you plant a new area, if necessary using a glyphosate weedkiller several times, or digging out all the roots if you prefer no chemicals. Use the time to grow on your favourite perennials in another area, so when you plant you can split clumps up and plant in drifts to cover the ground quickly and suppress weeds. The only way I can maintain two-thirds of an acre with thousands of plants is because I spend very little time weeding.
When pruning, before cutting back consider if you can remove the lower branches to reveal the shape and allow light and space around the base of the plant. I have used this technique with the parrotia, amelanchier and apple trees, shrubs such as a contorted corylus and arbutus, bamboos and even a fennel.