Linda Viney visits a Stalmine garden that’s a riot of colour

PUBLISHED: 00:00 05 August 2013

The meandering water feature

The meandering water feature

Linda Viney

Colour dominates this spectacular Lancashire garden created by a farmer’s daughter. Linda Viney reports

You can’t miss Muriel Bradshaw’s garden when you drive down a certain country lane in Stalmine between Hambleton and Knott End. It’s a riot of colour with a spectacular water feature tumbling through it.

Muriel’s totally organic plot has something new to discover at every turn including a colourful selection of trees, shrubs, herbaceous, roses and bulbs. There are hidden corners as well as open areas with features such as a wooden gazebo. And she isn’t frightened to change things around as the gardens evolve.

‘Sometimes when I look round I think that no thought has gone into that area,’ she laughs. ‘I can get carried away sometimes. I love visiting gardens that open and although I have opened for fundraising for the local church it is only recently I opened for the National Garden Scheme.’

It is an all seasons garden but she particularly loves spring and has planted thousands of bulbs from the small snowdrops to the large alliums. If she sees a plant she likes she just has to have it. ‘I have to have them all,’ she jokes. She does have help on a Tuesday from Peter and her grandsons when they have time and a lot come from seed. There is a large wildflower garden and she has planted hundreds and loves looking among the grass to spot them rising up.

The main water feature meandering down the side is designed round a berberis which was already there, it couldn’t be moved as it marks the grave of one of their dogs, and stands on an island where a Buddha adds tranquility. The tumbling water flowing through is edged with blue slate rocks and the pond area at the bottom contains a bubble fountain. The flowing shape was marked out with white spray paint before digging began, a good idea with any bed or feature.

A rockery area is in the process of maturing and, living near the coast, she has an old rowing boat planted with bedding and someone has recently given her an old canoe which she is still thinking about.

When she was first married she had a large garden so Muriel no novice when she inherited her father’s farmhouse surrounded by a plot of land 26 years ago. He was a farmer and not interested in gardening, so she set to work clearing the hen cabin and nettles to gave her a blank canvas. She had a natural artistic eye - she opened two florists shops, one in Poulton and one in Lancaster, before she and her husband Ernie took over his late father’s coach business.

Muriel isn’t into growing vegetables, leaving that to her son in law who lives next door, however she has some raised beds where she grows soft fruit. She is very aware that although she has to have shelter from the prevailing winds it is important to have vistas allowing the open countryside towards Blackpool to be seen. Follies are another feature, again she has designed these and a small one at the far end was inspired when a stained glass window in a door dropped down and this forms the centre-piece for a small chapel-like ruin.

Muriel doesn’t claim to be a horticulturalist but her passion for plants stands out, and she always manages to find room for any new purchase or gift. Her latest acquisition is a copper dragonfly which is placed on a stone. Anything that bears any relationship to a garden is irresistable and reclamation yards, markets and garden centres have a certain magnetism. Her daughter who lives next door has obviously inherited her mother’s green fingers for her garden is very much a family garden with sculptures created by her children now grown up. The family are now in their fifth generation living here. Long may they continue.

Muriel will open by appointment telephone 01253 700408 and on July 21st she is also hosting a concert in her garden with a Hog Roast and the Trident Band to raise funds for a new church roof. Tickets are £10 and must be bought in advance via the same number.

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