Mawdesley - the Lancashire village with a passion for gardens

PUBLISHED: 00:00 05 March 2015

Filled herbaceous border alongside a boundary is set off by a mown lawn

Filled herbaceous border alongside a boundary is set off by a mown lawn

Linda Viney

This pretty village throws open its garden gates to help maintain the ‘jewel in its crown’. Linda Viney reports

Ceramic birds on poles set among perennial planting provide food and water for the birdsCeramic birds on poles set among perennial planting provide food and water for the birds

The wonderful scent of newly cut grass starts to fill the air as we are finally - hopefully! - able to get out in the garden and start planning for the year ahead. As always, one of the first tasks is to mow the lawn - a true sign of spring, which officially begins this month.

As we look after our own plots, some people are already ensuring their gardens are going to look their best when the gates are open to welcome visitors, swapping ideas and tips.

There is no better way to gather ideas. Whether you visit a large garden or small backyard, there is something for everyone, not forgetting the delicious refreshments often on offer.

Last year I visited Mawdesley on their village open garden day and was astounded at the variety on show, from a very mature garden which was nearly 50 years in the making to a communal garden shared between two friendly flat-dwellers.

Scrappy adds a touch of humourScrappy adds a touch of humour

There were 12 gardens open and, being up against the clock, I was unable to get round them all. The villagers, including The U3A Ukelele Group who played in one of the gardens, come together to raise funds to maintain the Village Green, which provides a haven for the locals.

The Millennium Green covers five acres of field, wooded coppices, wild flowers, walks and play areas and, as they say, is a ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of village life.

I love fuchsias and one garden had an abundance of them with an added bonus of plants for sale. A narrow path led down the side of the house where you brushed past plants as you ventured through. A ram’s skull picked up on one of the couple’s walks was hung from the wall peering out through a veil of climbing plants. Another garden showed how a hanging basket didn’t need to be hung from a bracket on a wall but added interest when hung from a branch of a tree.

Less common plants could be spotted in a garden which had been created over many years. Alpines resided in troughs and raised beds while artefacts collected from travels were grouped as another curiosity as were large rocks filling an otherwise difficult place. In contrast, within six years another plot was beginning to mature and had stunning herbaceous borders filled with contrasting colour and foliage.

For me, the pièce de résistance here was the gazebo which stood proud in a stunning display of David Austin roses which have to be my favourite both for their colour, form and scent, which filled the air. Yes, it may be a good idea to take a notebook to remind you of what you would like in your garden.

One large garden had matured over a quarter of a century from a relatively blank canvas. As with many gardens over the years, nature often has a hand in changing the design as happened in 2013 when a eucalyptus tree was blown over demolishing some woodland area. Sometimes, although we don’t think it at the time, nature has aided us by giving space for new planting and opening up aspects.

Gardens hold memories - none more so than one which was open in memory of the parents of Nick Harris who both died in 2012. It has been a project of love as nature had taken over the plot and it needed taming. There is still the bog garden which is contained in a thickly wooded area which also has new wild areas. Paths were re-routed and relaid and working areas cut back to save work. Again there were plants for sale. Did I buy? Of course!

You were able to say hello to the resident horses at Jigsaw’s Nature Garden Pack House Stables where parking was available for all the nearby gardens. Here the former arable land has been gradually developed over 13 years and the 20 acres has mostly native trees, hedges, grasses and plenty of wildlife habitat. Many of the gardens also showed how to encourage welcome wildlife from bird feeding stations to piles of old wood affording shelter for small creatures. If you wanted to discuss slugs and snails Margaret and John Singleton were more than happy to oblige.

Apart from villages opening their garden gates there are individuals who, helped by family and friends, also open for charities whether via the National Garden Scheme’s Yellow Book, other charitable organisations or a charity close to them there is plenty of choice to get out and about.

Mawdesley folk will be opening their gardens again this year, it is usually the last weekend in June but do check first. Email

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