We first travelled to the Wyevale Bridgemere Garden Centre, which is very extensive, covering 50 acres and containing all the usual elements; shops, restaurants, plants etc. The weather was dull in the morning but it stayed dry so we were able to make the most of visiting the 5 acres of beautiful award winning show gardens. There were lots of opportunities for those of us who like taking photographs as well as plenty of ideas for colourful planting for this time of year. There were also some stunning features such as a large informal pond, a ruined castle folly, pergolas, seating ideas and a beautiful cottage garden complete with the cottage. This garden had won the top award at the 1988 Chelsea flower show and has been maintained in top class condition at the garden centre ever since.
After lunch we travelled a short distance to the Dorothy Clive Garden. This is a 12 acre hillside garden that has continually evolved since 1940. It is described as
intimate and informalin their publicity leaflet and the network of fairly narrow paths ensure that large groups have to split up into smaller groups. That, along with the mature trees and informal planting added an air of mystery to certain sections of the wooded hillside. Using the excellent map provided we wandered freely throughout the garden finding; an edible woodland, a woodland quarry with a waterfall, an alpine scree and pool, a rose walk and the Royal Botanic Glasshouse amongst the seasonal borders. Of course we had to sample the tea and cakes at the tearoom and look for that special item in the gift shop.
By now the sun was shining and we were able to sit on the sun terrace admiring the view and the cannas and dahlias in the hot borders around the terrace. Members took the opportunity to purchase some of the more unusual plants they had seen as these were on sale.
After a busy day we were able to sit back and enjoy the beautiful countryside as our driver took us back via
the scenic routeavoiding the traffic problems on the M6 and M5.