A quick wander around Winterbourne Gardens

It is always nice to be asked to do things so when I was asked to help present a session at a work event that was on a Saturday I happily agreed to do it.  Once I was told the venue I realised quickly it was very close to Winterbourne House and Gardens.  That sealed the deal, I agreed to go as I planned in my head stopping off on the way home to visit the gardens.  As the timetable for the day was revealed I realised that I would not be able to do this as I would not be finishing until dusk.  Slightly disappointed I shrugged and thought little more about it other than it being an opportunity missed.

The day arrived and off I went.  Only to find that we had a rather generous lunch break in the middle of the day, followed by a session that I did not have to attend.  An escape plan was quickly formed, I checked that no one would mind (notice) if I disappeared.  I swallowed a couple of sandwiches quickly and headed for the gardens snickety-snack.
It was a cold, but beautifully sunny day, perfect for a lunchtime walk.  I had never been to these gardens before and so when entering the walled garden just the other side of the ticket office, I stopped and paused to take in the view.  It is a garden of good structure.
There are also some rather nice hot-houses which are beautifully maintained.
I keep not buying Clivias, everytime I see one I cannot understand why I keep not buying them.  I am going to have to sort this out.
I loved the shadows in the hot-house.  Shadows = sun and are a very good sign.
There is also an orchid house, 
which was small but packed with plants including these dangly things (technical term),
these tiny bananas,
and of course some orchids.  
I loved this arrangement/planting.
and I really loved this small pink Cryptanthus 'Pink Starlight'.  
There was various display greenhouses including this alpine house.  I really like a good alpine house but they are such a luxurious use of space.  I would like to have one except I just cannot spare the room for a greenhouse just to lay out like this.  If I was a dedicated collector of course it would be very worthwhile, but for the generalist that I am it is something to look at and enjoy but move on.
I moved into the next greenhouse that was largely spiky.
I am not a great fan of cactii but this was quite large and it caught my eye.
and yes, I did stand in front of this agave and sigh wistfully.
I also paused briefly in front of this stone trough with iris in as they were sparkling like jewels in the sun.
The garden is comprised of good vistas that draw the eye,
and this rather fine nut walk that the original owners installed.
It is a very nice house, I had not got time to go inside, but it sits well in its surroundings.  It was built in 1903 for Jon and Margaret Nettlefold and was set in several acres.  It is been grade II listed since 2008.  On the death of the owner it was bequeathed to the University of Birmingham and it is now their botanic garden.
I really need to go back again at other points in the year to see how the gardens develop through the year.
There is a fine terrace that overlooks a somewhat plain lawn.  I admit to being a bit underwhelmed by this view.
but I was wrong to judge so quickly as the other side of this row of yews is....
this - a really good space that really shows how well the garden is designed.  This feature is just waiting to be discovered, you turn a corner and there it is.  I was very impressed.
There is this parterre to the side of the house, it appeared to me to be the christmas tree graveyard...
it is a good space and quite unusual by having this conifer planting.  I would have expected possibly more of a fragrant garden in this setting.  It is really good to not find what you expect.  Those moments in a garden when you pause and think 'oh' and have to pause to process are not wasted moments.  I did not expect to be challenged by what I found here and I rather enjoyed that I was.
Around the corner from this parterre is this Winter Garden.  Now it might not look much from this distance, but it is one of the best winter gardens I have ever experienced.
It was made up of winter honeysuckle, Cornus mas, twisted hazel and daphne.  There was also several hamamelis in this area and in other parts of the garden.  They are clearly a favoured tree of the garden.

and then, dear reader, something happened.  It happened suddenly without warning.

The battery in my phone died and I could not take any more photographs.  I had not brought my camera with me as I had not hoped to escape.  I tutted to myself with my stupidity.

The gardens also contain some beds planted in relation to different countries/continents.  I am sorry to have no photographs as these borders were very good.  There was Japan, China and Australasia plus others.

I thoroughly enjoyed my 'great escape', it was a very good way to break up the day and refresh me for the afternoon.  It also gave me the opportunity to buy a couple of plants.......
.......because I would really go and visit and not buy any plants - like that is realistic!  I bought a small Haworthia and a Prunus Kojo-no-mai.  Now I have bought (and killed) a Kojo-no-mai previously so I am a little anxious about looking after it.  I have put it in the Courtyard for now as I think it might be destined to be a container planting for the foreseeable.


  1. Dear Alison

    I have Prunus Kojo-no-mai in a tub and so far (it has been with me for two years) it seems to be fine. Its leaves were munched by something last year, but I hope it will come back fine again tis year. It seems to be budding up nicely. Good luck with yours!
    Best wishes

    1. Thanks - I think mine wasn't watered properly last time, not an issue in having at the moment!

  2. Lovely glimpses of the garden - you're a woman after my own heart, planning a little lunchtime escape!
    I particularly like the irises - and the greenhouses were a safe bet for some mid-winter colour.
    Maybe next time you will take your camera - and a spare battery for it, just in case that wears out, too...
    All the best :)

    1. Next time I am definitely taking my camera! Annoyingly I had a spare camera battery with me.

  3. A lovely garden to escape too - and lovely weather for it! Good luck with the new plants

  4. At least the Clivia you did not buy is in flower. I have a huge one that I didn't buy 5 years ago and it has forgotten that it maybe could flower perhaps one day. Lovely pictures as always.

    1. Thanks :) that is true, if I buy one and it doesn't flower I will be disappointed

    2. For what it cost me the darn thing should flower twice a week!!!!

  5. Hello Alison, thanks for this lovely review of our garden. You might be interested know that we are actually extending our Winter Border throughout the whole 'Old Meadow' area. Work has just begun this week in preparation for the planting of 10 West Himalayan birch trees. You can find out more about what we're up to (winter border aside) at https://diggingfordirt.wordpress.com/


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