The gardens at Abbeywood in Cheshire have been around since the Edwardian era, but were extensively designed in 2003 on the advice of designer and writer David Stevens. Here’s a snappy tour of the gardens.
These are planted in a naturalistic style with Narcissus, Tulips, Alliums and Camassia beginning the season, followed by perennials, including Nepeta, Hemerocallis ‘Corky’, Sedum ‘Purple Emperor’, Knautia macedonica and Veronicastrum, interspersed with Miscanthus sinensis ‘Silberspinne’.
The North-facing border is filled with Hosta, Astilbe, Heuchera and Tricyrtis.
The Exotic Garden
The Exotic Garden, which is adjacent to the Cafe, and now occupies the remnants of the old vegetable garden, was started two years ago.
The layout remains formal with box hedging, but the planting within is relaxed and heavily reliant on mostly tender exotics planted out each Spring.
Two Quince trees dominate the central planters along with Trachycarpus palms and Cordyline australis. Cannas, Dahlias, Bananas and Tetrapanax papyrifer are interplanted with large leaved hardy plants suchs as Ligularia and Rodgersia. These in turn are mixed with an array of tender Salvias, Ricinus, Cleome, Tithonia, Solanum spp and many more. The planting changes every year.
The Pool Garden
The Gazebo leads through to the Pool Garden, which is surrounded by an old established yew hedge from the days when this area was a Tennis Court. A long central pond is flanked by a parterre.
Tulips abound in Spring, in the parterre and the surrounding borders. Dahlia ‘Bishop of York’ and Verbena bonariensis complete the scene later in the year. The borders are ‘cottage garden’ style planting, Campanula, Phlox, Agapanthus, Hellebores, Miscanthus, Penstemon, Aquilegia and Irises all jostle for space here. There is always something in flower in these borders.
Two large urns dominate the West end, underplanted en masse with Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Firetail’, which quivers with the weight of bees from July to the first frost!
The Chapel Garden
The smallest area of the garden, the Chapel Garden, is reached through the wrought iron gates. Two old Irish yew stand sentry at the entrance. Another formal area with a small pool, the small borders contain a variety of perennials, Nepeta, Lychnis, Echinacea pupurea ’White Swan’, Dianthus ‘Alan Titchmarsh’, Hemerocallis ‘Joan Senior’, Miscanthus ‘Cosmopolitan’ and Erigeron annuus, share the space with Viburnum and Choisya.
The Pergola Walk
On leaving the Chapel Garden you enter the Pergola Walk. With its adjacent herbaceous borders, it is the main access point to the rest of the garden. Roses and Clematis climb the brick pillars. Narcissus and Tulipa ‘Jan Reus’ in Spring are followed by the herbaceous perennials. Replanted two years ago, Lupins, Irises, Nepeta, Monarda, Delphiniums, Aster ‘Little Carlow’, Hemerocallis, Sedum Autumn Joy. Echinacea and Eupatorium fill these borders with colour and texture.
Perpendicular to these and the Pergola are four newly planted borders reaching out across the lawn towards the hills in the distance. Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaragd’ add to the formality, while Miscanthus sinensis ‘Flamingo’, Panicum , Kniphofia ‘Tawny King’ and ‘Percy’s Pride’, Echinacea, Geum ‘Princess Juliana’, Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’, Sedum, Persicaria and Aster lateriflorus ‘Horizontalis’ add the informal aspect.
A large and impressive Cedar, Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’ dominates the Western boundary of the garden, across the lawn toward the house.
At the steps leading to the back of the house are small borders with multiple-stemmed Prunus serrula (Tibetan Cherry), Agapanthus, Phlomis russeliana and Clematis. There are also Phlox and Sedum planted along this terrace.The small glade opposite the house is underplanted with shade lovers, hostas, Rhododendron, Foxgloves Roscoea, Epimedium, Erythronium and Euphorbia robbiae amongst others.
Cornus controversa variegata, Magnolia stellata, Magnolia × loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’, Choisya with herbaceous perennials, forms the Eastern boundary with Jane’s Garden
A plant lover’s garden, first started in 2000 from an area of overgrown woodland on the east side of the house by Jane Rowlinson . Work was done to remove many of the poor tree specimens and shrubs to allow more light into the garden. Sandstone found in the ground and around the estate were used as the outline for the borders.
Replanting was carried out using many rare trees and shrubs including Paulownia, Acer palmatum cultivars and Liriodendron. This informal woodland garden is still evolving as Jane continually adds to her collection of favourite plants, which include Galanthus, Corydalis, Erythronium, Trillium, Iris and Geranium.
Jane has been instrumental in the planting of Snowdrops at Abbeywood, particularly within her own garden which contains a large collection, but also two areas of woodland either side of it.
The gardens also include an extensive arboretum and a woodland walk.