A touch of the Orient in a Kelsall garden
PUBLISHED: 12:23 28 September 2011 | UPDATED: 21:35 20 February 2013
There's a hint of the Orient about this peaceful garden near Kelsall, and then there's the statues... WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY KEITH PLANT
The best gardens are those you plan to go back to - again and again. This certainly applies to Dave Darlington and Louise Worthingtons magnificent 10 acre garden at Mount Pleasant, near Kelsall, right in the heart of Cheshire.
They admit to a distinct lack of formal training in horticulture and garden design, yet together, after 15 years of dedicated graft, theyve created one of the most impressive gardens in the county.
They were born locally and their parents had an interest in gardening. Dave trained as an electrician and developed his skills into a small business before abandoning everything to make things grow he has 120,000 Christmas trees maturing in the Delamere Forest! But his real love is his home patch which he describes with imaginative enthusiasm:
You see that alpine garden it was covered in trees three weeks agowe took them all out and replanted it. All this ambition doesnt come cheap he admits to spending 2,000 on seed for the wildflower meadow. But in this garden the benefits seem to be more important than the costs.
And theyve done it from scratch. They bought the house with a small amount of land, bought more landand so the garden began. Its huge. Its high maintenance. Its constantly being re-visualised. Its spectacular. You cant achieve that without rolling your sleeves up on a daily basis.
Green fingers help: many of the plants and rare trees have been propagated from cuttings and the couple sell their surplus plants at modest prices to garden visitors. But creativity is more important. You sense a restlessness which means that the garden will never feel finished for them. And theres practical know-how too. Dave tells me how an overflow system from the Japanese pool is designed to control the wetness of the bog-garden.
The wet-loving plants love it here, but theres also strong Asian influences, tropical influences, a fernery, an herbaceous border, rare species of trees from New Zealand, statues
Oh, I nearly forgot about the statues, its easy to get carried away with this garden. Theyre everywhere: functional, witty, tactile and revealing a slight obsession with owls. Many of them were created by the multi-talented Dave, often from recycled wood. Others have been bought. But every September they open their garden up to over 20 sculptors who display and sell their work in an impressive community art venture.
Opening the garden is important to Dave and Louise. They started by hosting events for local charities.expanded into twice-yearly openings for the National Garden Scheme. Now they open every Wednesday and each weekend from May to September. It costs only 4 to enter and its a refreshingly non-profit driven operation for such a spectacular garden.
Theres a chalet serving modest refreshments (many of the ingredients are grown in the vegetable patches) and a small nursery. Dave says: I just wish we could attract more visitors so that I could afford to buy in some help then we could make it even better.
And they do have a compulsive drive and energy. This year theyve imported bees into the wildflower meadow so that they can make their own honey. They constantly talk about the possible future developments, plucking potential projects out of the air. But most noticeably, they are endlessly positive. Everything is about looking forward, which is surely the essence of the pleasure a garden gives.
Weve got mice eating the seed in the wildflower meadow. Thats great because it means we have kestrels and buzzardsits all part of the cycle of things, he said.
And, as you would guess, there are no pesticides or chemical fertilizers in this part of Cheshire: We leave things as they are and everything sort of balances out, says Louise.
Undeservedly its one of Cheshires least known attractions and its very special. Details are on their website: www.mountpleasantgardens.co.uk Visit it soon, but it doesnt really matter when because its an all summer round garden. Whenever you go, youll be overwhelmed by the beauty and the hard work thats gone into creating this magical piece of Cheshire. And youre sure to plan to go back.