5 beautiful gardens in Cheshire

PUBLISHED: 00:00 19 June 2020

A carpet of daffodils close to the ornate wrought iron gates at Cholmondeley Castle

A carpet of daffodils close to the ornate wrought iron gates at Cholmondeley Castle

Joe Wainwright Photography All Rights Reserved

The National Garden Scheme gardens in Cheshire are among the most beautiful in the country. But with lockdown in force, how shall we get our garden fix? We asked Janet Bashforth, NGS county organiser for Cheshire & Wirral to take us to some of her favourite spaces

Veroncastrums, geranium and lychnis create waves of colour in a herbaceous broder at Bluebell Cottage GardensVeroncastrums, geranium and lychnis create waves of colour in a herbaceous broder at Bluebell Cottage Gardens

There are 77 NGS gardens in Cheshire, stretching right across our fair county, from the Wirral to Disley, Malpas to Hale. Each garden, most of which open to the public for just a few days each year, is a gem in its own way, and every one contributes to an annual donation of more than £4m to 11 charities, including Macmillan Cancer Nurses, Marie Curie, Hospice UK, Parkinson’s UK and Mind. Cheshire alone raises over £111,000 each year – but what will happen in 2020, when so many of these gardens will not be opening?

Janet Bashforth, NGS organiser for Cheshire & Wirral, says we all need to jump online, where we can enjoy tours of NGS gardens all over the country, with new gardens added each week as they come into full bloom, and – if we wish – make a donation to the scheme to support these charities, where every penny lost puts their services at risk.

“It’s just really, really, sad,” Janet says. “So much work goes into the preparation of every garden and they are all timed to open just when they are at their peak, so many of them won’t be able to postpone and open at a later date, even if social distancing restrictions were to be lifted. It will be a huge blow to the charities too, at a time when their services are under even more pressure.

The white of snowdrops complements the bark of silver birches in the Winter Garden at Dunham MasseyThe white of snowdrops complements the bark of silver birches in the Winter Garden at Dunham Massey

“The NGS has responded by working with the gardens to create virtual tours though, so people can still visit their favourites, and even take a tour of gardens all across the country. I am looking forward to seeing many that I have only heard about previously. Virtual visitors can also make a donation, of course, which will go some way towards helping those charities who are so in need of our support right now.”

As Janet, too, won’t be able to visit her favourite gardens this summer, we asked her to take us to some of her favourite floral spots for a season-by-season tour.

The double herbaceous borders at Arley Hall, still flowering profusely in September.The double herbaceous borders at Arley Hall, still flowering profusely in September.

Arley Hall and Gardens

Arley is famous for its long borders. I take all my visitors there, the planting and the colour in the borders are spectacular.

The white of snowdrops complements the bark of silver birches in the Winter Garden at Dunham MasseyThe white of snowdrops complements the bark of silver birches in the Winter Garden at Dunham Massey

Dunham Massey

Every year I make a little pilgrimage to Dunham Massey to see the winter garden: a carpet of snowdrops. These are the first signs of life as the winter draws to a close and are so beautiful when planted en masse.

Veroncastrums, geranium and lychnis create waves of colour in a herbaceous broder at Bluebell Cottage Gardens,Veroncastrums, geranium and lychnis create waves of colour in a herbaceous broder at Bluebell Cottage Gardens,

Bluebell Cottage Gardens, Dutton

I have been lucky enough to have worked here for 17 years – it’s like my second home. It’s closed at the moment, of course, but in the summer the gardens come to a peak and it’s absolutely beautiful. It’s renowned for its herbaceous borders, which are planted in a relaxed, informal style, with drifts of colour and texture all through.

The Homestead, Janet's own garden, in early summerThe Homestead, Janet's own garden, in early summer

The Homestead, Knutsford

I wasn’t sure whether to include this, as it’s my own garden, but it’s absolutely my favourite space, so felt I should! I moved here in January 2014 and the gardens were no more than concrete and grass. I took a year to get the house sorted, then asked a landscaper to come and lift the concrete and add new paths and beds. There’s a central circular ‘border’, which I planted in April 2015 and the rest over the next year. I was ready to open for the NGS in 2017. There’s no lawn; it’s all about the planting and a pretty place to sit and enjoy it. u

A carpet of daffodils close to the ornate wrought iron gates at Cholmondeley CastleA carpet of daffodils close to the ornate wrought iron gates at Cholmondeley Castle

Cholmondeley Castle

For me, spring means daffodils, and the display at Cholmondeley every year just takes the breath away. They have a really good mix of different varieties; it’s a glorious and uplifting sight.

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