The Homestead: a stunning Cheshire garden in High Legh

Garden with acer

The pathway around the central border with the stunning acer taking centre stage at Janet Bashforth's High Legh Garden - Credit: Alison Moore

Our gardens writer and photographer finds royal tributes and a riot of colour in the garden created by the county organiser of the Cheshire branch of the NGS

Moving into a new home where the garden is a blank canvas, can be a dream come true for garden lovers and that’s exactly how Janet Bashforth felt when she moved into The Homestead at High Legh back in 2014. 
     
Putting her garden design skills to good use, Janet set about creating a layout that would accommodate masses of planting, a stylish greenhouse and a wildlife-friendly garden pond. 

Although the garden was a relatively modest size, the use of tall planting in the large central border, surrounded by a series of pathways, created an air of mystery that encouraged a journey through the garden, taking in the different seating areas and exploring little nooks and crannies along the way.  

Garden border

A view through the half-mood border towards one of the seating areas at The Homestead at High Legh - Credit: Alison Moore

In addition to the large border in the main part of the garden, Janet added an outer half-moon border with a curved pathway separating the two. This gave an extra dimension to the planting and was filled with box balls for year-round structure, and softened with Stipa tenuissima ‘Wind Whispers’ and summer-flowering Allium sphaerocephalon.  

Flowers in garden

Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’ and Linaria purpurea line the path at The Homestead, High Legh - Credit: Alison Moore

The central feature plant in the large border itself is an Acer palmatum with beautiful red foliage, and this is surrounded by an abundance of perennials including salvia, astrantia and hardy geraniums. hese were selected by Janet to give long-lasting colour throughout the summer months and were perfect choices to get a new garden established quickly. 
                                   
A greenhouse was a must for Janet, but because of the size and shape of the garden, it needed to be in full view rather than tucked away in a functional corner.

Janet chose to make it a focal point in its own right and now it blends beautifully into its surroundings. 
   
I asked Janet what her biggest challenges had been with the garden, and she told me that once the basic structure had been created, the hard landscaping laid and key trees and shrubs planted, the difficult decisions came with the choice of the rest of the plants and what to put where.

Rosa ‘A Rose of Distinction’

Rosa ‘A Rose of Distinction’ - Credit: Alison Moore

Like most newly planted gardens there have been some things that worked better than others, but part of the joy of gardening is the ability to experiment with what works and what doesn’t. 

The only things that remain of the original plot these days are one of the garden buildings and a couple of birch trees that provide the perfect support for the lovely rambling rose ‘Francis E Lester’. 
  

Rambling rose

Rambling rose ‘Francis E lester’ in Janet Bashforth's garden - Credit: Alison Moore

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Janet has a particular love of roses and clematis and there are a number of varieties throughout the garden including the lovely Rosa ‘A Rose of Distinction’ launched by Fryers Roses in 2014 to celebrate the 10-year milestone for Cheshire Gardens of Distinction.

Clematis ‘Princess Diana’

Clematis ‘Princess Diana’ in Janet Bashforth's Cheshire garden - Credit: Alison Moore

In the year of the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, it is also rather apt that many of Janet’s favourites have a royal flavour to them. Among an impressive collection of clematis, can be found Clematis ‘Prince Charles’, Clematis ‘Prince George’, Clematis Princess Kate and Clematis ‘Princess Diana’. 

Woman in garden

Janet Bashforth, Cheshire organiser for the NGS - Credit: Janet Bashforth

Janet is county organiser for the Cheshire branch of the National Garden Scheme, which has more than 80 wonderful open gardens, which raise money for charity.

The Homestead, 2 Fanners Lane, High Legh WA16 0RZ, is open on June 25 and 26 and full details of all opening dates and times can be found in the 2022 NGS handbook available at garden centres, or by searching online at ngs.org.uk/find-a-garden 

Tips for planting a new garden

o Check your soil by doing a PH test and looking at what grows well in your area

o Think about the aspect: which are the sunny areas and which will be in shade

o Choose your trees and shrubs first as they will provide the basic structure for the garden.

o Use perennials and bulbs to fill in the spaces and provide year-round colour

o Don’t be afraid to move a plant if you feel it is in the wrong place

Alison Moore of Renaissance Garden Design is a garden designer based in Sale 
with a passion for garden photography, who blogs about her garden and other gardens she visits in Cheshire. Visit renaissance-gardendesign.co.uk
Twitter: @renaissancegd  
Instagram @a1isonmoore

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