Taking spring gardens in your step
PUBLISHED: 13:46 24 May 2007 | UPDATED: 14:33 20 February 2013
Take a stroll among the myriad of colours and sweet scents of spring at Caxton House, Reigate, a garden in Surrey which is opening its gates to the public this month
Words and pictures by Leigh Clapp
Scattered blossom on bare branches and dense underplantings of daffodils and hellebores are a sure sign that spring has arrived - heralding the end of winter and welcoming in the new growing season.
The perfect time for summer plants
If that sounds like your idea of heaven then do make time to visit the garden at Caxton House in West Street, Reigate, where you will find surrounded by glorious early blooms. Drifts of bulbs weave beneath a protective canopy of flowering shrubs and trees. Colour, scent and the sound of the first bumblebee buzzing around the flowers delight the senses as you explore the pathways.
Bob and Marj Bushby have developed their large garden, which will be open to the public later this month as part of the National Gardens Scheme, over the past eight years. It's been a long process that has seen them transforming seven acres of parkland into part garden and part woodland. "There was nothing here when we arrived; just some trees and a small golf course which we didn't need," explains Marj. "We wanted to create areas to sit in and enjoy, along with woodland and ponds to encourage the wildlife."
A palette of plants
The garden is characterized by a broad palette of plants for all year round interest. Around 150 trees have been planted in the woodland, including Malus, Prunus, Ginkgo, tulip trees, Sorbus and chestnuts. Throughout the garden the variety continues with both traditional and 'treasure' plants to discover.
Abundant spring plantings of hellebores, primroses and bulbs along with choice shrubs are followed by herbaceous borders and roses through to autumn foliage. "We wanted lots of colour with lots of unusual plants," adds Marj.
Paths meander through the garden and seats dotted amongst luxuriant planting encourage you to relax and contemplate the peace and quiet. It comes as no surprise to learn that Bob and Marj like sitting down with a book or magazine and a glass of Pimm's to take in the atmosphere.
Watching the wildlife on the ponds with their resident moorhens and the darting wings of dragonflies is also a favourite pastime, as well as the daily wander with the dogs through the garden and woodland.
Views from inside the house were also important considerations. Large windows look out to pretty vignettes at every turn, so the garden can truly be appreciated in all weather conditions.
Bob and Marj enjoy sharing their enthusiasm for the garden with visitors, opening their garden regularly for charity. "It is really worth while as we get great satisfaction doing the garden and it's a lovely way to raise money for charity," says the '75-year young' Marj.
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