Sometimes visiting someone else’s garden is such a delight it stays with you for hours, days, after the event. Yesterday we visited the enchanting Arts and Crafts Garden, begun in 1912, called Bryans Ground, right on the English/Welsh border, in North Herefordshire.
The current owners have been there since 1993 and have produced a quirky, delight of a garden, that even in a late season and on a cool grey day was uplifting. It should be on every keen gardener’s visit wishlist. The lateness of the spring -there was snow here until just 2 weeks ago-meant that the structure of the garden was very obvious today, and the plants were playing second fiddle . Apart from pulmonaria, daffodils, anemones and some other bulbs, the flowering was quietly understated and the perennials were only just emerging, although in the greenhouse there were beautifully staged displays of geraniums and fritillaries.
Much of the garden nearest the house is set out in a series of rectangular plantings areas, rooms, if you will, with beech,yew and box hedges dividing the areas. Within the planting areas squares , rectangles and straight lines are the repeated motifs, together with topiary.
The garden has the feeling of a child’s garden of delight, with many nooks and crannies containing treasure in the form of found garden objects and interesting metal oddments from old clocks and machines, numerous paths to explore and an almost Alice in wonderland sense of theatre.
I would have loved to have been a child living here with the whole garden as my playground.
The very strong grid structure provides an abundance of examples of symmetry, both in the planting and in the layout, as well as emphasising the numerous viewpoints. From every seat there is a vista, from every item of sculpture there is a view.
And delightfully, the pools and other water features mirror and reflect the plantings and views into a third dimension.
At the edges of the garden, the views tumble out into the landscape of the countryside beyond, sometimes as regular hedge boundaries, once where a mock Ha ha has been created and once where the very thick holly hedge has a deliberate viewpoint cut through it.
The effect is of a garden in and belonging to the landscape, secluded but not isolated from it.
When we first decided to visit I was not sure I would appreciate or enjoy the quirky sculptural pieces and bric a brac displays, but I discovered I loved them. To the extent that I am thinking about finding something quirky to put in my garden too.
This was the first visit to Bryan’s Ground, but it certainly won’t be the last, and if you find yourself in these parts, take a detour and visit. Tea and cake too. And to finish, my favourite part, the auricula theatre beneath a staged collection of blue and white china fragments.