A stroll around the beautiful village of Bonsall in Derbyshire on the trail of their Magical Gardens last weekend. This post is dedicated to Lucinda from Lucinda Sans blog to provide her with a little piece of Englishness. (Sorry Lucinda no tea shops though).
Bonsall is set in the hillside above Cromford village, the nearest main town being Matlock and with Derbyshire being completely landlocked the nearest place to a seaside is the stunning Matlock Baths along the dale; complete with illuminated ‘promenade’ running alongside the river and traditional seaside shops.
Bonsall we found is a village with two parts – the upper and lower levels and a very steep climb between the two. If was a very hot day and we really felt the heat as we went up hill and down dale on this trail – you need plenty of puff to complete it – but there are refreshments waiting at the top should you need them.
For me the village open gardens are not always just about the gardens on show but discovering the unusual, the quirky and that mysterious ingredient that makes a village special and more than just a collection of buildings. And this one is different to many – it has been named not just active but hyperactive as the residents all pull together in so many ways to deliver a wonderful village life here that most people would envy.
Starting to climb up the steep hill to the top; the cottages are snuggled into the hillside with gardens that require plenty of terracing made out of the beautiful soft grey of the Derbyshire stone, covered in moss and a tumbling of flowers everywhere.
Notice above the way the same plants, red geraniums along the front wall and in the background lavender, have been placed in rows but in differing pots giving a very striking arrangement.
These little water fountains and wells are everywhere in the village but this is quite a notable one as I love the way it is the community centre at the top of this hill for the bus stop and post box.
Every now and then a little lane would appear off to one side with more gardens to discover.
It was steep going up but seemed even steeper on the drop down the other side. As we continued further down into the valley it was noticeable how the planting becomes very lush with trees and vegetation. Flowing alongside the road is a little stream, often disappearing under some of the houses and then popping up unexpectedly in a garden or two.
Above must have been the tiniest garden on show – a strip only three feet wide between the cottage wall and the roadside where the stream had been left uncovered and only paved to enable access to the front door. Stunning.
This house below is one of my favourites. No showy planting here – just a relaxing vista of greenery, such a peaceful garden with the gentle sound of the trickling water from the well in the corner.
Every now and then there was an alley way…and a footpath….. it would have been so tempting to have explored where they go but with 30 gardens to see no time for detours.
Some gardens had the quirky – I absolutely would love this outside lav and what looked like an adjoining laundry in my garden.
Then there are the eye catching corners where plants have just grown into an unusual or quirky display!
Still winding our way down the hill (it goes on for ever) the road opens out into an open space with houses round about and we find the village cross – this must be the highest set of steps for a village cross that I have ever seen and forms the centre of the upper village even though it is halfway down the steep hill. The road going off at the left corner leads you to the church. I will take you there another day.
On the way to the church are more tiny cottages with verges crammed full of wild flowers and cottage flowers mixed together producing a wonderful untamed show.
Sometimes just a little splash of colour in a pot is all that is needed to make a big statement.
This garden below so appealed to me – the tidy ramshackle – a brilliant collection of bits and bobs brought together in a display by the shed. Notice how the well cut short grass round about gives it more prominence. It reminds me of those little unkempt gardens they try to replicate at the Chelsea show.
The garden above was so tiny it was called a ‘peep over’ and you viewed it from the garden gate. The owners had cleverly used an open metal gate to allow more of a view and presumably let more light into the garden. I so wanted to walk down that little gravel path. Instead I walked up the hill by the side and peeped over the wall. What you don’t see from the gate is the ‘hidden’ table and chairs beyond the planting – so well thought out.
On the way further down the hill now and back to our starting place in the lower village. Here you will find the Fountain Monument in the centre and the tiny village stores – if you are passing do go for an ice cream.
I will leave you with yet another photo of how you can make any little nook and cranny, shed or corner look appealing.