Becconsall garden in Tarleton to raise funds for Clatterbridge Cancer Charity in National Garden Scheme
PUBLISHED: 09:27 07 June 2017 | UPDATED: 09:28 07 June 2017
Linda Viney visits a delightful garden that makes a perfect spot for afternoon tea.
I was welcomed by the scent from the collection of old fashioned roses which wafted through the air in this billowing, quintessential romantic English garden created by John and Elizabeth Caunce in Tarleton Moss.
There are many traditional features here which have been adapted suit the climate and you almost feel transported back in time. On open days, tea is served in china cups with seating in a traditional marquee allowing you time to listen to the band playing, all which adds to the ambience. The one acre Becconsall garden, just off the main A565 to Southport, combines many different yet blending areas.
Formality by the house where there is a central mosaic leads you in the direction of a rill with a bubble water feature which is planted either side with dierama - aptly named ‘Angel’s fishing rods’ as their delicate pink flowers sit at the end of a thin stem moving as the wind catches them. It mimics a fishing rod and is stunning when in full flower. Apart from the bubble water feature there is a small waterfall halfway down adding gentle sound and movement.
Carry on and, by the house, there is a box parterre and a sundial. In one of the contained beds an old stone trough is planted with sempervivums and surrounded with coloured gravel. Walk up to the woodland area and you’ll find a wonderful selection of roses, most of them labelled. John is particularly passionate about these attractive plants and loves adding to his collection of 30 old-style varieties.
There are also shady areas with seating nestling in a quiet corner, and a small stone-edged pond where a shell and red boat have been placed for a bit of fun as well as a home for frogs and toads, all surrounded with gentle planting. Hedgehogs which are invaluable for keeping the slugs at bay, find their home in piles of wood hidden from view.
You can hear the tranquil sound of water which guides you through to discover the formal pond where a magnificent fountain adds grandeur. This area is sheltered from the open countryside by a clipped hedge.
‘We put a bid in at an auction for the fountain. Fortunately for us, we seemed to be the only ones interested and were delighted as it now has pride of place in the formal pond,’ John told me.
Planted urns on pedestals are sited by the hedge which forms a backdrop to the colour of the plants. A mirror has been strategically placed in the hedge forming a window offering a reflection of the house giving an illusion of what secret lies further on.
The garden now opens up allowing the countryside beyond to become an extension. Complimenting this is the wildlife area with a large wildlife pond, where tall grasses sway adding movement. The wild flowers are becoming established as they self-seed. Wildlife is very important here – they feel if you look after mother nature, she will look after you.
‘Sometimes it can be a disadvantage when the blackbirds come and peck at the sempervivums but they also get rid of many pests,’ said John.
By creating vistas with an urn placed at the end of a pathway your eye is drawn through the trees to the open countryside.
Further on I met up with helper Suzi who was busy tying red ribbons onto a twig from the nearby quince tree. It is tradition in her Eastern European homeland to bless the vegetables as the seeds are sown. Their vegetables certainly looked excellent so it must work! Suzi loves helping John and Elizabeth and has now got the task of assisting John trim a cloud hedge he is in the process of creating. Apart from a quince they also have a medlar and a black mulberry bush which they were assured wouldn’t survive north of Cheshire. A walnut tree is now ten years old but sadly the birds took the first fruits and a kiwi has yet to produce. There is a fine mix of trees making up an arboretum for the future.
Old sinks have been collected and John’s first try at alpines was when he bought a one already planted. There are many artefacts from an old school desk to a bench which had once overlooked the Marine Lake in Southport but now sits in the wildlife area.
Colourful and interesting herbaceous borders all add to the beauty of this garden. Stunning iris seen with heucheras and traditional cottage-style planting almost complete the picture. However, there is one place I would find difficulty in leaving and that is the small summerhouse where you can sit surrounded by plants, reading gardening books or novels while looking out over the garden. You could almost imagine Gertrude Jekyll sitting here designing and planning a garden while drinking tea from a china cup.
Becconsall Garden at Hunters Lane, Tarleton Moss, Tarleton, PR4 6JL, is open this year for the National Garden Scheme on Saturday and Sunday July 1 and 2 from 11am to 5pm. Admission £3.50, children free. Home-made teas, wine and beer. The refreshments are in aid of The Clatterbridge Cancer Charity.