Whoever heard of “hanging hostas”? This we had to see so, on 17th July the Felpham & Middleton Horticultural Society made the trip into Hampshire and parked the coach at the end of a narrow lane to walk to a garden which promised the answer and other beautiful things. Split into two groups half of us started with some delicious home made cake and a drink while the other half had a talk from the owner, John Baker, before they were encouraged to seek out the hanging hostas. The path led through jungle like foliage with hostas of every type like washing on a line and hanging from large bamboo bars held between two trees or purpose made structures. The walls were not exempt, thick bamboo bars were fixed to support the hostas hanging from a higher bar. Thoughout the garden were bursts of colour from day lilies, cannas, ginger lilies and dahlias and following the waterfall across a small bridge to a pond we came across the beach of ‘mouse land’. The mouse garden is inhabited by mouse hostas and mice (of the ornamental type). Mouse hostas are tiny leaved varieties, not little hostas but cute miniatures that remain that way. A balcony to the rear of the house probably originally a place to sit and contemplate the garden, is now home to many more potted hostas but the aerial view of the garden shows how much is packed into it. Continuing around the garden you find yourself in an oasis of calm in a small but delightful islamic garden with tiled water-course and shelter. Also ‘hanging’ in the garden were helpful tips on how to look after hostas and deal with the dreaded slug! Finally, with many ideas for our own gardens, and some plants to get us started, we tore ourselves away to go to our next destination.
This was a chalk and cheese outing from jungle to formal. West Green House Garden is accessed by a wide gravel drive and has a special and distinctive sense of place. Walking around the side of the impressive 1720’s manor house the garden is entered through a small shop into a pretty courtyard where there are plants for sale and a charming cafe. There are also greenhouses where you can eat your own picnic but these are no ordinary greenhouses. In the centre a long refrectory table! There are plants many climbing over the roof but they are interspersed with Roman busts and other ornaments with the terracotta pots artfully arranged – what a lovely place to eat. The outside cafe seating area is bordered by a stunning little parterre and through the arch into the walled central garden we were met by a riot of colour. Beautiful peonies, day lilies, roses and too many colourful perennials to name them all. This part of the garden is laid out in two areas in a symmetrical quartered manner and bordered by box hedges. In one half the sections were centred by four architectural fruit cages each surrounded by its own attractive vegetable patch, the other quartered area is filled with flowers surrounding an ornate well. Through a moon gate you come across the stepped water garden headed by a majestic wall and carved statue. Leaving this area through another arch there is a wooded area and a large lake with an island folly designed by the neo-classical architect Quinlan Terry. Walking further over several little bridges there is Chelsea planting and cultivated patches within the woodland and even more small follies and eventually arriving at a small but pretty Paradise garden. The garden is surrounded by fields and there is a large glass pavilion within the grounds used for the performance of opera and other events. While we were there the garden was being decorated with hundreds of lights for an impending performance and it was easy to imagine how magical this special garden would be after dark.
Report by Christine Dunham, Outings Organiser