It was all a bit special

I work in education, I like education, I would go so far as to say that I fundamentally believe in education as being 'a good thing'.  So it is probably not too much of a surprise to find out that I like learning about things and in particular about things that I enjoy.
I recently went on a propagation workshop to improve my considerably shaky propagation skills.  I then a few days later went down to near Bath to Derry Watkins' Special Plants Nursery to take part in her course on running your own nursery.  Yes it is a sort of dream that lurks at the back of my mind, what I need to be sure of is how much of a dream it is - hence the course.
I am not going to actually talk that much about the course.  It was excellent, very informative and gave me lots to think about.  It was a much needed reality-check about running a nursery - the joys and the pitfalls.  I came away with much to think about and I can unreservedly recommend it.
I also came away with quite a few new plants as the nursery has such a good collection it was just too hard to resist.  I know there are those who I can hear sighing about 'plant collectors' rather than having a clear scheme.  In my defense (and I don't actually feel defensive) I knew exactly where each plant was going to go and one in particular had been on my 'to buy' list for ages (she says sounding defensive!).
However the garden has to be given more mention because it deserves it.  The garden is set in a very slopey position with amazing view of the Cotswolds landscape.  I particularly liked this boundary of miscanthus.
The garden makes great use of its position.  It takes you around each level and you weave through the paths around it.
You go through informal to formal.  I really liked this wild flower meadow effect bit.
There is very effective structural use of hedges and black lily turf.  This works because it is precise hedging with the dark but quite unstructured look of the black grass-like planting.
I'm not sure this picture shows this well enough, but the colour of the planting fits perfectly with the colour of the metal cut-work sculpture.
The use of colour and structure throughout the garden is, as you would expect from such a gifted plantswoman, extremely good.
The metal cut-work appears on sticks too in the garden.  I rather like this figure particularly again the dark dahlia foliage and the bright green grass.
At the side of the house there is a path made of broken terracotta crocks.  It looked great and sounded even better when walked on.  A really nice touch.
This semi-circular beech enclosure is something I have seen in various gardens and I like the idea of it.  If I had room I would consider doing something similar myself.  I have to say though that I was not keen on the plant in the middle.  I don't know what it is, it is a tender succulent sort of looking plant and it wasn't for me; probably because I'm not keen on that kind of plant.  What I was sure about however....

....were the portholes cut in the side.  These I liked a lot.

This is by no means the whole garden, there is much more to see and it is worth going to see.  It opens for the NGS and also every Tuesday - but take lots of money, the nursery is excellent!


  1. It looks and sounds like a wonderful place. And of course you had to buy some beautiful plants. How unutterably boring it would be to always know exactly what plants you had to buy - like a grocery list - and to never just fall in love with a plant and gleefully sweep it up to take home.

  2. Dear Alison, Your photos are amazing. I particularly like the miscanthus one -- it gives a glimpse of the English countryside -- green fields and hedgerows. Makes me homesick. P. x

  3. I'm glad I don't live anywhere near Leicester, that Nursery would be far too tempting! There are some lovely ideas there too.i especially like the use of the hedge and the black lily turf. It really stands out.

  4. Alison, your post and photos have strengthened my resolve to get to visit 'Special Plants' soon :) Would like to do the course too as I really enjoy propagating. Sounds as if you had a most positive, informative as well as enjoyable experience.


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