I saw Ellicar Gardens for the first time like many people, on Gardeners World, when the great Adam Frost took a look around the 5 acre garden with the owner Garden Designer Sarah Murch.
This was in the summer, when the natural swimming pool was looking stunning and the borders surrounding it again looked so beautiful with swaths of Iris in full flower just like Sarah’s photo above. Bearing this in mind I took up an offer to see the gardens after Hodsock on a cold, drizzly dank February afternoon. But what I found brighten up the darkness and really was a delight to visit.
The gardens themselves are were started in 2008 by Will and Sarah Murch after they moved into this old farmhouse, that had been used for many years as a children’s home. After sorting out the house, they started on the garden. This was just an open field when they first started and everything you see is planting’s that they have done since then.
The Gardens are still developing today, with new borders being added this year. As the picture above shows the outlines of them
Amazingly the whole garden and small holding with pigs, goats, sheep, horses and the new Llama are managed just by Sarah and Will with one person who comes in and mows the grass and does the edges. Both work full time but still manage to look after this stunning garden to a high standard. They add that magical ingredient to a garden and that is love, you can tell that Sarah loves the garden and the wildlife it attracts and this love of them both is what makes it so special as the garden is managed for both and the way they work together is a real delight and I haven’t seen a garden so in tune with the needs of both humans and wildlife, it was really inspiring.
Plants like the iris Siberica are left with their old leaves on to provide protection for the amphibians and small mammals for the winter months, this also has the effect of helping to keep down the weeds in the borders.
The seed heads of plants stay on again to feed the birds, the flocks of goldfinches and chattering of sparrows was so lovely to here as we wondered around.
And course the main attraction for both humans and wildlife is of course the natural swimming pool. This pool hasn’t had any chemicals added too it and it is there for both humans and wildlife to enjoy, Sarah told us about swimming with dragonflies and grass snakes with the odd kingfisher dropping it whilst they are enjoying the pool. The pool also attracts bats with 9 species recorded in the garden, again thanks to the pool. It just fits in so well with the garden and feels part of the landscape unlike other swimming pools that feel alien to its surroundings.
Walking around the garden, there were so many lovely views, with the stems of the grasses still looking stately and the use of plants with coloured stems like willow and dogwoods really lit up the views. The pines and conifers that are mixed into the garden, just added that touch of green to intensify the other colours
The whole garden is planted up with some stunning plants, space denotes that I can only show a few so here’s
Salix gracillstyla ‘Melanostachys’
The garden to the north of the house is planted up more as the winter garden and it is full of winter gems, many different forms of dogwoods, hellebores and snowdrops and looked stunning when we visited. It was full of form, texture and colour and very well designed
The one thing you see around the garden are plants put to artistic use by Sarah, with roses trained into shapes, held in place by willow and willow woven into dens and living fences.
I had to finish in the eduction section and the fun way things have been recycled!
In all I throughly enjoyed my visit to the garden and it’s a garden I can recommend you to visit at anytime of the year. It’s not just a beautiful garden but it is one that managed for the wildlife as well. And that is been achieved by careful and thoughtful management of the garden, better than I have seen before in any garden. Sarah and Will’s life ethos shines though in all areas of the garden and their love and pride of what they have achieved in 10yrs again is clear to see and rightly so! it shows off that the two aspects of gardening for nature and as a well designed beautiful gardens can be achieved hand in hand. It’s a garden I shall certainly be going back to see again at sometime and see it in its summer glory after seeing it look so beautiful on a damp February day!
It is open this Sunday, the 25th of February for Nottinghamshire NGS. Then the gardens will be open from June 8th onwards, Fridays in June, July, September and October and there will be a natural pool open day in mid June, date to be confirmed. The tea rooms and plant courtyard will be open at the same time.
More information about how to get there and about the garden can be found at http://www.ellicargardens.co.uk with the full address Carr Road, Gringley on the Hill,Doncaster, DN10 4SN
Here’s a few summer pics from Sarah to attract you to visit the garden in the summer months as well