Gardening: Lowder Mill near Fernhurst
This month Lowder Mill is a delightful garden to visit, where pretty planting in an idyllic setting is topped off with delicious teas served on vintage china by the charming owners
Hidden away near Fernhurst, picturesque Lowder Mill is open for a few days in May through the National Gardens Scheme and is a garden not to be missed. It is sure to inspire. Owners Anne and John Denning have been restoring the garden since 2002. They were immediately drawn to the location and could see great potential in the then neglected three-acre garden, an acre of which is water, along with three acres of woodland, all set around the 17th century mill house and former mill. With design input from renowned garden designer Bunny Guinness, passionate hands-on gardener Anne, has transformed the environment. Hard landscaping included a new pond in front of the mill and an attractive courtyard now adorned with eclectic containers. Anne does most of the planting, propagating many of the plants in her much-loved greenhouse for both the garden and to sell at the open days. “We have a very extensive plant stall with many unusual plants. I love pottering in the garden, growing plants from seeds and seeing cuttings spring into life always amazes me,” says Anne.The ever-present water means the conditions are heavy clay on a high water table so lots of topsoil had to be brought in and home-produced compost with well-rotted manure and some grit dug in to lighten the soil. “We have increased the plants that do well around the lake in the damp and shaded area, such as hostas and candelabra primulas. Although I do try to cultivate plants that are happiest in these conditions I do get tempted into other areas and hence I have a large collection of pot-grown plants in the courtyard,” adds Anne.After you have had a wander around the garden admiring the array of plants, the dappled light in the courtyard, the glistening streams, the raised vegetable beds, and the quirky containers by the potting shed, take time for tea served overlooking the mill lake. You may even spot the resident kingfisher as you enjoy a superb homemade cake presented beautifully on vintage china. “We are very fortunate to be able to open and share with our visitors some of the enjoyment that we get from our garden. We always enjoy going to other private NGS gardens and appreciating the hard work, dedication and creativity of other garden owners, and the extent to which their gardens are in many ways reflective of their own personalities,” explains Anne.