Ten glorious gardens for you to visit in Lancashire for the National Gardens Scheme

PUBLISHED: 00:42 08 June 2013

The gardens at Lower Rowell Farm have been developed over 50 years by the Robinson family

The gardens at Lower Rowell Farm have been developed over 50 years by the Robinson family

NOT Archant

Lancashire Life leads you up the garden path and into some of the region’s loveliest plots - all for charity

1. Lower Rowell Farm & Cottage. Milnthorpe LA7 7LU. Open: June 29 & 30 from 1 – 5 pm

The garden created by John and Mavis Robinson has been a family affair, writes Carole Berryman.

As the Robinsons, along with daughter Julie and son-in-law Andy Welton, prepare to open to the public on behalf of the National Garden Scheme this month they can see a piece of land packed with beautiful plants but many happy memories, too.

Lower Rowell Farm and cottage goes back to 1677, according to a date on a spice cupboard in the house. The Robinsons have lived here for almost 50 years, and it is still a working dairy farm. It is set in idyllic countryside with far-ranging views.

Julie contributes most of the garden labour and direction and added a new cottage garden last year. But it was John who led the way for many years. He modestly claims that this is ‘just an ordinary garden’. In fact it contains a skilful mix of sturdy ‘good doers’ (great drifts of snowdrops, hellebores, hostas, primulas and pulmonarias in spring, for example) and ‘specials’, such as arisaemas acquired from Scotland and an unusual golden conifer from Wales.

As for the garden’s design, he adds: ‘I like dreaming things up for myself. Some work, some don’t. It’s all trial and error.’ There are no straight lines - curving paths wind across and up the slope in between beds which have equally curvy shapes. There are continual intriguing glimpses and hidden corners. Mavis and Julie joke that even his vegetables aren’t in straight lines. But, as John says, ‘nothing’s straight in nature, is it?’

Specimen trees and shrubs, many with yellow or gold variegation, emphasise the vistas along and across those curves. ‘I know some people don’t like variegation but it depends how you use it,’ he adds. This part of the world isn’t known for high levels of sunshine and John reckons yellow or gold foliage ‘lightens the garden and draws the eye’.

Over the years the garden has grown by leaps and bounds. Recently, it expanded into a second old orchard. Here it is deliberately different in style - more open, less densely planted, with just a few ‘mini-gardens’ in the newly mown grass beneath the pruned-back trees. For example, a gravel garden, a living willow dome (both designed by Julie), a bamboo ‘garden room’ and, to show that at 70 John is still ‘dreaming things up’ and trusting his eye, a series of obelisks made out of reshaped old roofing slates.

John’s favourites are the many trees, some raised from seed. He says: ‘I can never resist an interesting plant. If I see it I have to have it and as to where it goes, well, I sort that out later!”

Julie says: ‘My favourite part is my outside breakfast table. I love to start the day there in dressing gown and wellies!’

2. Barn on the Green, Silk Mill Lane, Inglewhite, PR3 2LP. Open: June 8 from 11-4pm.

A quarter acre overlooking stunning scenery guides the visitor through a series of ‘garden rooms.’

3. St Michael’s gardens, PR3 0UE. Open: June 8 & 9 from 10.30-4.30.

Six gardens in this Wyre village with an inspiring range of colour schemes, planting and colours.

4. Birkdale Village gardens, near Southport, PR8 2AX. Open June 15 & 16 from 11-5pm.

An expanding group of gardens encircling this attractive Victorian seaside village.

5. Great Mitton Hall, Mitton Road, BB7 9PQ. Open: June 15 & 16 from 1-5pm.

Lovely terraced gardens next to the 12th Century church with stunning views to Pendle Hill.

6. Carr House Farm, Carr House Lane, Lancaster, LA1 1SW. Open: June 15 & 16 from 10.30-4pm.

Another hidden gem, this farmhouse garden includes Mediterranean, rustic and cottage flowers and trees.

7. Barrow Nook gardens, Bickerstaffe, near Ormskirk, L39 0ET. Open: June 22 & 23 from 1-5pm.

Three neighbouring gardens ranging from a peaceful country cottage style to a plot designed for low maintenance.

8. Mill Barn, Goosefoot Close, Samlesbury, PR5 0SS. Open: June 8 & 9 and 22 & 23 from 1-5pm.

Tranquil terrace with a sense of fun and mystery – even a grotto devoted to alchemy!

9. Wedgwood, Shore Road, Hesketh Bank, PR4 6XP. Open: June 23 from 11-5pm.

One acre country garden with pots, a pond, walled patio and 90 foot parterre.

10. Green farm Cottage, Lower Green, Poulton-le-Fylde, FY6 7EJ. Open: June 23 from 10-4pm.

Well-established formal cottage gardens with paths leading to many different areas. Visitors describe it as another ‘hidden gem.’

NGS garden

Whenever you visit a NGS garden you may not be able to go in dressing-gown and wellies, but you will see top quality gardens, gain knowledge, ideas and inspiration and leave knowing that all the money goes to charity. The National Gardens Scheme is a charitable institution and has donated more than £25m to charities such as Macmillan Cancer Support and Marie Curie Cancer Care. For more gardens to visit go to www.ngs.org.uk

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