• Cascades Gardens, Derbyshire – a haven of peace

    derbyshire-gardens-to-visitI 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. (more…)

  • Cascades Gardens inspired by Japanese Gardens

    Daisen Inn, Kyoto, JapanIn 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 garden 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. (more…)

  • Cascades Gardens. A celebration of nature- beautiful and soothing

    When I get a Trip Advisor review of the garden that claims that my garden is average and that I have weeds in the garden, I realise how much we all have a different view of gardening.I have long since vowed that I would never have a lawn that showed perfectly cut edges or lawn mower stripes, and always said that I would make the most of flowering weeds. Cascades Gardens Spring 1

    Tulips at cascades entrance April 2016.  There is nothing average about the unique landscape of the 4 acre Cascades Gardens. With an 80 foot cliff, streams, canal and pond and an acre of wild woodland- of course it has weeds!. Actually the woodland has a fabulous array of red, white and blue wild flowers and plants at the moment (campian,foreget me not and buttercup included) which looks beautiful.

    Yesterday we had a gardening group  from Alveston on a garden tour of Derbyshire. All were passionate experienced gardeners that had been to many of the gardens in Britain. They were all saying the same thing. “We have visited Chatsworth, Renishaw and Hardwick Hall gardens and this is the best garden we have seen on our trip.It is natural and doesn’t look as if someone famous has designed it. It is understandable to us with plants we feel comfortable with, and plantings that we can do in our own garden” (more…)

  • Conifer collection at Cascades Gardens

    Conifers at cascades

    New conifer garden

    Cascades Gardens has seen a lot of changes over last autumn and winter.Inspired by Adrian Blooms book “Gardening with Conifers” and the birth of my daughter Sophia in November 2015, I have created two conifer beds on the side of the rocks in the first part of the garden.I have called the main one “Sophia’s Conifer Border”. As most of the miniture conifers only grow about 1 cm per year I imagine she will be going to university about the time that the new borders mature and become the  border designs I envisaged.

    Cascades now boasts about 85 different conifers, mostly dwarf varieties. From the ones I planted 30 years ago,Picea Glauca Albertiana Conica ( now 3ft tall ) to Metsasequoia Glypstroboides ( now 30ft tall) to my two new favourites Picea Pungens Hoopsii (a blue spruce) and Cryptomeria Japonica sekkan-sugi (a semi pendulous delicate tree) . The most difficult thing I have had to master is all the proper names of the trees and their prononciation. Try Chamaecyparis pisifera Squarrosa Lombarts!

  • Snow In January 2015

    Snow in January at Cascades House and GardensSnow in January at Cascades House and GardensJanuary has been unusually cold and snowy this January. Thank goodness The Cascades guest rooms are warm and comfortable.
    We have had a few inches of snow in the court yard and garden most of the month and the boy’s snowman has only just disappeared in the first week of February!
    The garden view was breathtaking on the first morning of snow. All the snow on the branches of the trees and bushes made it magical. Our guests enjoyed walking in the village and garden and found their nights out in the Kings Head, the village pub, particularly welcoming with great food prepared by the new chef.

  • Great Progress In 2014

    Cascades Gardens may date back to 1750 but the 4 acre garden as it now stands started it’s creation in 1996. It has gone through many phases of clearing, landscaping and planting since then and a huge number of trees, shrubs and perennial flowers have been collected and planted.
    Opening the garden for the Bonsall village open weekend was a proud moment ten years ago but joining the National Garden Scheme (NGS) in 2005 introducedCascades House and Gardens us to a different audience of more knowledgeable and discerning garden lovers. The garden proved to be difficult and certainly exhausting to keep tidy and maintained. Most people thought the garden was fascinating with it’s cliffs, ruined corn mill, canal and waterfalls but we were always conscious that it needed more resources to look after it than we could afford. So in 2010 we closed the garden which gave us time to rest and reflect.
    In the last two years we have made major changes to the garden. We have simplified the layout, and changed grass verges to wider shingle paths. Unsuccessful borders have been removed and grassed over and others completely emptied, dug over and replanted. After 18 years, trees planted as saplings have become up to 40ft tall and some have had to be removed. Old Prunus and fruit trees have been cut down and unwanted Elderberry trees scrapped. Our vision has been to make the flat two acres of the garden more manageable and maintenance friendly -much less awkward mowing. It has also had a lot of the invasive shrub and tree growth cut away along the cliffs and many other small trees and shrubs removed in the garden to give prominence to better things. All remaining paths have all been edged with stone or oak planks and another 26 tons of shingle spread on them!
    So structurally we are much more organised and ready for the more pleasurable activity of gardening in 2015. We have also identified a number of perennial flowers as a nuisance and all except a few, now put in pots have been removed from our borders: Thermopsis, Helianthemum Lemon Queen, Lysimachia and a pink flowering Geranium. All had run riot after more than ten years. . Fresh planting of new plants bought bare rooted from a Norfolk horticultural wholesaler has given great satisfaction and we now have several new flowerbeds with an expanded range of prennials; lots of Asters, Verbascum, Campanula, Leucanthemum and Euphorbia to complement our abundance of Phlox, Geraniums, Hosta’s and Hellebores.
    We have also added to the number of shade loving plants by planting Cranbe Cordifolia, Rheum Palmatum Atrosanguineum, Rogersia Pinnata Elegans and Hosta Patriot and Whirlwind in our borders under the old Beech and Lime trees.
    We want 2015 to be our year of colour, so hundreds of daffodils, tulips and other bulbs have been planted in our new borders. New rose beds have been created and inter-planted with Aliums. We are also going to extend the Dahlia bed and try growing Chrysanthemums next year, a great favourite of my award winning uncle Len.
    Last but not least, unable to grow Rhododendrons in our lime soil we have planted a great many different Hydrangea’s many of which we have grown from cuttings in the last few years.
    We are looking forward to the next gardening year and cannot wait to see the effects of all the new plants and borders. We have re-joined the National Garden Scheme and hope to welcome many more visitors in 2015.