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 introduced 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.