I was lucky to get to see a fantastic example of a plantsman’s garden and it warmed the spirits on even what was a freezing cold and snowy day. Open for charity on selected days, ‘John’s Garden’ is a well-recommended paradise garden for plant enthusiasts.
John’s Garden at Ashwood Nurseries is the three-acre private garden of the nursery owner John Massey VMH. Located in Kingswinford in the West Midlands, it is a real plantsman’s paradise set against the gorgeous backdrop of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal.
The private garden is open on selected days – around six or seven times a year – to raise money for charity and it is well worth the entrance fee of £5 per person. The majority of the days support the nurseries chosen charity of the year, while the April open day is dedicated to supporting the National Garden Scheme.
The garden features a fantastic collection of trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials, including a notable number of rare plants, throughout its flowing canal-side design. It is a huge plantsman’s collection with something to see throughout the season.
I visited on a cold and snowy day in March and there was a plethora of early spring delights and plenty of bulbs, with beautiful examples of hellebores, daffodils, primroses and much more. These splashes of colour stood out against a backdrop of conifers, shrubs, grasses and an abundance of clipped topiary, as well as a range of colourful dogwood that were stunning.
It is an idyllic secluded setting against the canal locale, with long and curving borders, a large rock garden and pool showcasing a fine alpine collection, as well as a stump garden and lots of hidden spaces to discover among its clever intricate design. The sheer amount of space dedicated to planting really impresses, with the garden and plants as a whole looking really loved and cared for – you can tell this is the garden of a passionate lifelong plants-person.
As well as the generous packed borders – the likes of which most garden aficionados could only dream of – there are statues, sculptures, pots and urns scattered throughout the garden – with pots featuring cut hellebores and hepaticas elegantly floating on water. The little touches and the attention to detail really shone through and showed the care, and John himself was even out wandering around speaking to visitors and thanking them for coming to see his garden.
There is also an attractive wildlife meadow just a stone’s throw away from the main garden that is accessible on the open days. During my visit there were swathes of daffodils bobbing away in the freezing wind, with the meadow offering fantastic views across the canal and further countryside as well as a chance to see a variety of wildlife.
‘John’s Garden’ is open on selected days and you can see the dates for 2018 here. At the adjacent Ashwood Nurseries you will also find a garden centre, tea room and gift shop. So you can take inspiration from the garden and then go stock up on plants to take home and recreate what you’ve seen in your own garden.