Lancashire Gardens - A perfect rose garden in White Coppice
PUBLISHED: 11:01 05 February 2014 | UPDATED: 11:01 05 February 2014
When they packed in farming at White Coppice, Raymond Smith set about creating the perfect rose garden. Linda Viney went to visit
February is for romantics with Valentine’s Day warming up what can be an otherwise drab month. It is tradition to send your loved one red roses and few people know more about these favourites than Raymond Smith.
He has more than 500 rose bushes made up of 100 different varieties. One of the healthiest is ‘Orange Triumph’ which his grandfather grew and it is now 70 years old.
Raymond was the fifth generation of the Smith family to farm at White Coppice Farm, near Chorley. known as the ‘Moosical’ farmer as he is an amateur musician who has composed four musicals, an organist and a choir leader. He worked on the farm with his father, Norval, until the start of the new millennium when he finally became sick of muck.
There was no money in it, and as his son wasn’t interested in milking, he decided to sell up, investing in a property in the Alps for his pension. He then converted the barn into two houses and lives in one with his wife, Linda.
His dream had always been to build a formal rose garden and, as I was to find out, that dream has become a reality. He studied Garden Design at Myrescough College and set up his own garden design business, aptly named ‘Stones and Roses’, as he builds in stone and grows roses. There are also musical connotations with the ‘Stone Roses’ and ‘Guns and Roses’ rock groups.
Their own garden covers two acres and has wonderful views of the surrounding countryside.
It is made up of a sunken rose garden, fountains and waterfalls, colour themed herbaceous borders.
White Coppice Cotton Mill was demolished over 40 years ago and they excavated the stone firstly for the barn conversion then for the garden. In creating the sunken roses garden thousands of tonnes were removed and this filled the holes where the stone used to be.
Standing on their patio you get a spectacular view over the formal rose garden, completely awash with colour from the blooms as well as perfume wafting up in the breeze, stone steps lead down. Although most of the roses have come from Fryer’s in Cheshire, Raymond’s grandfather had 800 behind their house which was originally the kitchen garden belonging to the squire who lived next door. The roses are deadheaded every day in season which extends their flowering - quite a task for Raymond.
Passing the ‘Hobbit’s’ garden shed with a circular door you come to the pink/purple garden where the large green slurry tank used to be. This isn’t the only remnants of the farm for the fountain pond is the remains of the effluent tank. All the rainwater from the two houses and outbuildings ends up here making it a large vat for watering the plants.
A formal pottage-style vegetable garden provides fresh vegetables year round. The fruit tree walk leads you down to a small lake, believed to have been built by Ephraim Cocker the mill owner in 1845 so he could view it from his house. Due to planning laws they are unable to plant anything that is not indigenous to the county here as it is in the green belt, so wild flowers are found in profusion.
As you wander round the twists and turns everywhere has been carefully planned a metal gazebo is a focal point in one area, surrounded by lawn an old wooden seat beckons you to the centre where you are surrounded by planted pots with a fuchsia filled hanging basket above your head. A stylish hexagonal greenhouse is used to its full potential.
A wisteria covered arch leads from the yellow garden through to the white garden with the stone wall dividing it from the outlying countryside. Conifers add another dimension and architectural plants give height and texture.
As we pass a scabious calatharia gigantic, Raymond says: ‘I call this my Viagra - whatever the weather throws at it, the plant always come back upright.’
He spends six hours a day tending this immaculate garden but it is no surprise to find he also arranges the church flowers as well as those for the weddings of both daughters. Apart from building his own two acre garden, Raymond has taken on commissions including a roof terrace garden and everything from a postage stamp-sized plots to large country house gardens. He also gives illustrated talks telling the history of five generations of the Smith family dairy, from farming to his passion for music - all for charity.
Raymond opens for the National Garden Scheme and over the years has raised considerable amounts for charity. Telephone 01257 277633, email firstname.lastname@example.org website www.stonesandroses.org. Groups who book to visit his garden in season are also treated to an organ recital with refreshments supplied by Linda.