Cascades Gardens, a garden for Meditation, Plant nursery and Bonsai centre in Matlock, Derbyshire

Cascades Gardens, a garden for meditation and wellbeing, is a peaceful and natural garden to visit in the historic village of Bonsall near Matlock, Derbyshire. Refreshments are available.

Inspired by Japanese gardens and Buddhist philosophy ( see blog post below),Cascades Gardens is a celebration of Nature and an ideal place to immerse yourself in a relaxing and beautiful natural enviroment.

If you are interested in gardening for wellbeing see my blog.

If you are a Buddhist or spiritual group and would like to arrange a retreat at our B&B and meditation garden, please click here.

The more complex and demanding the world becomes the more we seek sanctuary in our gardens. Years of austerity and conflict has increasingly led us  to look to gardens or beautiful natural places to retreat , relax, and find peace of mind.

Cascades Gardens has been designed by the owner over the last 25 years to reflect the natural balance and harmony that can be found in unspoilt landscapes. Inspired by Japanese gardens and Buddhist philosophy the combination of massive rocks, water and lush natural planting is intended to refresh the soul and celebrate Nature. Cascades nursery has a wide range of interesting plants in the nursery and now has a Bonsai centre where you can buy Bonsai trees, pots and tools and get friendly advice.

Changing with the seasons, there is always something new in the garden; waterfalls and hellebores in March, a delightful spring garden in April and May, roses in June and an abundance of interesting plants, shrubs and trees throughout the the year.

Cascades Gardens has many places to sit in quiet corners amongst its dramatic scenery. Perfect for reflection and meditation whatever your religion or spiritual views. On a quiet sunny day there is a sense of peace, stillness and energy throughout the garden and you can hear the sound of water wherever you are.

Ideal for garden enthusiasts, plants men,and those seeking peace and quiet and relaxation. Come and explore this fascinating garden which originates from the 19th century and surrounds the ruins of a corn mill, with pond, mill race, canal and an old quarry. Cascades gardens is set on many levels with a new “garden room” and seats around every corner showing perennial flower beds, roses, waterside plantings, alpine and conifer rockeries. There is a great view from the cliff top path. Every season brings new surprises with hosts of hellebores, hostas, unusual perennial flowers, shrubs, trees and conifers.

The informal gardens have been designed to blend in with the spectacular natural landscape of rocks, cliffs and woodland.The Bonsall brook runs through the garden and flows over the ruined corn mill and many waterfalls which gives the house it’s name. In the winter the flow of water can be a torrent and in the summer it dries up to a gentle trickle.

A wide range of plants in the garden are available for sale in the nursery.

Alan Clements, who has been gardening for over 50 years can be booked for Garden Talks. Garden group visits are welcome.


Gardening for Mindfulness and Wellbeing

It seems that everyone is talking about mindfulness and wellbeing these days. Not surprising after 10 years of austerity. Perhaps it is a good sign that people want to put it all behind them and be more positive.
One definition given for wellbeing is “the experience of health, happiness, and prosperity. It includes having good mental health, high life satisfaction, and a sense of meaning or purpose.” Issues that affect us all.

It is sad that depression and stress seems to figure so largely in today’s society. Mental health has also been talked about much more lately with the return of our soldiers from places like Iraq and Syria. Perhaps with the general outcry for better social care we will start taking it all more seriously. I was surprised to be introduced recently to the Buddhist Chaplain of the armed forces and am also impressed with the way that some Tibetan Buddhist centres are developing outreach centres such as Karma Dzong in Bermondsey and Yorkshire. These are branches of Samye Ling monastery in Scotland where I attended meditation training many years ago and seem to be leading the way. They offer help to people on a much wider range of personal well-being issues in conjunction with local Councils, not just spiritual development.

One thing that sticks in my mind is the way that His Holiness the Dalai Lama always seems so positive, down to earth, and at times bubbles with joy. Not bad, for an 84 year old man who has witnessed the death of more than a million of his people since the invasion of Tibet by China in 1959. In my first meeting with him in 1992 he stressed that to be happy we need peace of mind and to achieve that, meditation was helpful. I believe he has meditated on positive and happy subjects daily since he was a child.

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Cascades Gardens, Derbyshire – a haven of peace

I bought the Cascades house and the surrounding land in 1996. The idea for the garden began that summer when I visited Eheiji a Zen Buddhist monastery (Temple of Eternal Peace) in the western Alps of Japan. I was only allowed to stay there by agreeing to follow the practices of a Zen priest and found myself in meditation sessions at 4 am daily and in other rituals. Importantly, I was able to view the formal monastery gardens set in woodland. It was a deeply spiritual place. On the way back, down to Kyoto, I visited Daitoku-ji monastery and had green tea with the Abbot. I sat by the famous garden of the sub temple Daisen In. I was greatly inspired by its rocks, representing mountains and raked sand – a river. I always felt that the Cascades had the potential to have the natural calmness and spirituality of these Japanese gardens and in 2015 the new conifer rockery was created with a raked gravel path and rocks rising up to the natural cliff. Continue reading

Cascades Gardens inspired by Japanese Meditation Gardens

Japanese Gardens for Meditation

In the Summer of 1996 in the same year that I bought The Cascades, I visited Kyoto, Japan. I wanted to re-visit one of the most famous and inspiring gardens The Daisen In, at Daitoku-ji Monastery. I arranged to sit with the Abbot at 8.30am to have a tea ceremony and discussion with him on the meditation platform beside the garden. I admired the miniature garden of rocks, raked gravel and miniature trees representing a mountain valley and river going under a stone bridge and was inspired. I was fascinated and my spirit uplifted by the peaceful representation of a mountain valley.

The aim of a Japanese gardens for meditation is typically to create a representation of nature in which human involvement is concealed and the garden at Daisen In was a superb example.

Cascades Gardens already has a beautiful natural setting of cliffs, stream, waterfalls and woodland. We don’t have to invent nature but try to manage and enhance it. The garden is designed to blend into the natural landscape.

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Hellebore Fortnight
1st – 14th March

Hellebores Gallery 8
    • See our Hellebore collection in flower in the garden. 
  • Hellebores for sale in the nursery.

View our Hellebore Page…
View our Hellebore Gallery…

Garden Opening Times

Garden open to the public everyday from 1st March to 30th September, 10am until 5:00pm 

Last entry 4pm
Group visits welcome. Talks and given.

Adults: £7.00 / Season Tickets: £18.00
Children (under 15) £3, under 5 free.

Dogs on a lead are welcome.