60th Anniversary celebrations trip to Waterperry Gardens and Ashwood Nurseries 27th/28th March 2017
Pick-ups began at the crack of dawn seeing us finally leaving Rawreth at 8am – plenty of time for the 2 hour journey… until we met the back of a traffic jam caused by an overturned car just past the A1 junction; all plans to stop for a comfort break on the way up disappeared. The coach from Lodges was excellent, along with its friendly and extremely competent driver Richard ( getting in and out of the nurseries and parking, albeit across 6 disabled spaces at the Hotel, was very impressive) – not sure if the ‘facilities’ on the coach were ever used but it was an essential ‘safety net’ for those of advancing years.
Despite the hold-up we arrived at Waterperry at just on 11 am to be met by our guide for the day who gave us a potted history of the gardens and surrounding areas ( from 1066!) and then lead us on the tour of the gardens. He freely admitted that the garden is primarily for late spring through summer with its formal borders and herbaceous plantings but there was still plenty for us to see; the rock garden had colour and the Fritillaria meleagris meadow was a delight. After an hour or so he handed us over to Adrian Young, the dedicated curator of the National collection of Silver and Kabschia (Porphyrion) Saxifrages. Adrian showed us the Tufa gardens and ‘behind the scenes’ collection (not open to the general public); Adrain had been off from work for a time so we were very lucky to have him with us. We then had a couple of hours to investigate the 8 acre gardens and to buy from the well-stocked garden centre.
We left the gardens at around 3 O’clock and headed for the Premier Inn on the Dudley Road in Kingswinford which was about 2 miles from Ashwoods nursey, where we had a very good evening meal.
After Breakfast the next morning we were off to Ashwoods nursery to arrive for a guided tour of John Massey’s private garden at 11 am. Even up to this point I didn’t know if John was going to be back from a jaunt to Japan but we were in luck. John was still on Japan-time and was still trying to catch up on jobs after his return but amazingly he found time to escort us around his garden which is, in my humble opinion, one of the best private gardens I have ever seen. The culmination of the visit, which I had only hoped for, was a visit to his private Hepatica collection (very few people get into here). We were given pretty much free-range over the entire area, with the only proviso being that bags were held in front so as not to damage the plants on the edges of the crammed benches. It got to the point where I had to interrupt proceedings to let John get back to his business or he would have stayed with us for longer. He left us saying that we could wander where ever we wanted. We had time then to get a bite to eat and visit the sales areas – the coach had to be re-loaded to get the number of plants in that were bought ( well, that’s why we went!). We left around 3 O’clock, with a comfort stop at Bicester services were everybody was treated to a cuppa from the proceeds (which also furnished a tip for our deserving driver), then off, hold-up free home.