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Discovering The Mill Garden

I’ve ventured further afield this week to explore Mill House in Warwick.

It’s easy to stick to the tried and tested when it comes to garden visiting: National Trust properties, well-established private gardens that open regularly; members of the National Garden Scheme. But sometimes it’s worth taking a chance.

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There are a lot of plants packed into Mill House garden

On a work trip to Warwick, I passed a sign advertising an open garden. It wasn’t one I was there to visit, or somewhere I’d heard about however, having a bit of time to spare, I decided to take a look.

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Glimpses of more garden entice you to explore

What I discovered was a varied garden with plant-packed borders that showcased some clever colour combinations.

The garden was laid out more than 40 years ago by Arthur Measures and it’s now run by his daughter and her husband, Julia and David Russell.

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Clematis climb through trees and scramble over shrubs

While they have inevitably altered some of the planting, the layout is essentially the same: a mix of winding paths and mixed borders designed to divide the garden into smaller areas.

And it’s the setting as much as the garden that makes The Mill Garden stand out. The third of an acre plot runs down to the River Avon and shares a boundary with Warwick Castle. As a backdrop, the ancient stone walls are unequalled while the river was a cooling presence on what turned out to be a warm afternoon.

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Few gardens have a backdrop as impressive as this

The planting schemes are designed by Julia and she obviously has an eye for colour with borders that team hot yellows, oranges and reds contrasting with others in shades of pink and mauve.

David, a retired nurseryman, told me that the couple also include lots of bedding in their borders and I spotted scented leaf pelargoniums, begonias and masses of verbena among the phlox, hydrangeas and achillea.

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The river is one of the main features

It was, he explained, because the garden is open so often: “No matter how good your herbaceous is, if you’re open to the public you’re guaranteed colour everywhere with bedding plants.”

They run the garden with help from volunteers and raise thousands every year towards both its upkeep and charities; in 2016, they raised £13,000.

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There’s the remains of a medieval bridge

While The Mill Garden is a member of the NGS and, it appears, well known to locals, not least as a prize-winner in Warwick in Bloom, none of that was apparent from the sign. I was glad I took a chance.

Here are some of the things that caught my eye.

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The colour combinations have been carefully planned
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Sometimes foliage is the key to a scheme
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I liked the contrast of melianthus with crocosmia
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Pink with just enough darker hues to stop it being bland
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The garden has many different hydrangeas
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A hot border and an old summerhouse framed by planting
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I wasn’t the only one who liked the planting
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Every open garden should have a seat and Mill House has plenty
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The castle is never far away

The Mill Garden, Mill Street, Warwick, is open daily from April 1 to October 31 from 9am to 6pm. Admission is £2.50. For details, see the Visit Warwick website

6 thoughts on “Discovering The Mill Garden”

  1. Visited today amazing. As well as the colour loved the variety of grasses which blended in and added texture. Julia obviously paints with plants.

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