On what felt like the hottest day of the year so far, I decided to visit the gardens at Wollerton Old Hall, near Market Drayton. The gardens are only open on Fridays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays, so a beautiful day pretty much guaranteed a busy garden.
The gardens open at noon, and there is an initial rush once the ticket office opens. However, I discovered that most of the early rush was to the tea rooms – apparently very good, but I didn’t go in. Although the house is old (16th century), the gardens have been developed since 1984.
The garden has a solid year-round structure of walls, hedges and clipped trees; this structure is supplemented by bounteous shrub and herbaceous colour. Most of the individual garden areas are planted in the ‘English garden tradition’ according to the website. So, plenty of herbaceous borders, roses and so on.
The garden is divided into rooms which are linked to form views within the garden. It did, to me, sometimes feel that these views were a little too many, but it does lead you on through the garden – though sometimes a little too quickly. I found myself wondering where the next path was going rather than admiring the current ‘room’, as each garden area was quite small. This led to me wandering round several times, to go back to see what I’d missed before.
My favourite parts of the garden had less of a ‘corridor’ feel. I particularly liked the Font Garden, which was mostly green when I visited, with box topiary and wildflower square. In a week or two, one side will be bordered with white lilies – they aren’t quite out yet.
The Lanhydrock garden, on the other hand, is a slap to the face to wake you up. Bright colours just beginning to get going – a real hot garden area – both literally and figuratively yesterday – some of the plants were finding the hot sun and continued dry weather a bit of a challenge.
A really ‘romantic’ border at the moment is in the Rose Garden – a tide of Nepeta to wade through, studded with peonies and roses.
Another quieter interlude was the garden area by the house. A lovely place to sit when the visitors have gone away at the end of the day, I’m sure. Like the font garden, I enjoyed this area as it was calmer and felt less of a corridor. I suspect the heat of the day and the overhead sun led me to preferring the ‘cooler’ areas yesterday. I liked this area, as it reminded me what a good ground cover plant ivy can be – trimmed to keep it under control, it gives a carpet of fresh green.
The rill garden was another ‘quiet’ area of green and stone – limited planting with limited materials. Having seen photos of the garden in several lectures, I’d expected the rill to run the length of the garden (i.e. at right angles to the house), rather than across the garden (parallel to the house). Not that it matters – it was a nice area, again allowing vistas through the garden.
Wollerton Old Hall also has some more naturalistic planting further from the house, leading down to a small pool where the damselflies were active.
I did enjoy the visit, but didn’t feel smitten with it as I have with some other gardens. I can’t quite figure out why – I suspect that the heat and strong sunlight may have affected my enjoyment, rather than anything lacking in the garden, although I did end up feeling a bit tired of cross-views at the end.
It’s a good time of year to visit the gardens, with the early summer English garden flowers out, such as irises, roses, peonies, and the wild flower areas looking fresh. And try the cake – it’s supposed to be very good. Let me know.