It was great to see our Show Gardens featuring in the Spring copy of the Japanese Garden Society journal “Shakkei”. Read the full article below - Japanese influences discovered at Walkers Garden Nursery - Written By Trevor Nash

"The vast majority of British nurseries exist for the sale of plants and artefacts to make a realistic profit for the owners. An increasing number of nurseries have, in recent years, added a refreshment area but only a small percentage create free recreational and garden areas for the use of their clients. So it is a delight to visit Walkers Garden Nursery at Blaxton near Doncaster to enjoy some five hectares of woodlands and gardens outside the main commercial complex.

 

Within these areas there is a definite Japanese influence which probably goes unnoticed to the majority of visitors but is readily apparent to those who enjoy features found in Japanese gardens.

 

Entering the nursery complex from Mosham Road and using the car park by the entrance, visitors can immediately walk westwards along the footpath/ track which runs parallel to the road. Within a short distance the woodlands open out into an enlarged glade where the Japanese influence is very obvious.

A pair of seated stone lions, possibly more Chinese in origin and style, guard the entrance to a deep pond filled with large and mature golden carp. The hint of danger for small children and the impending problems are guarded against by a notice to parents. The pond is crossed by a typical red painted elliptical wooden and quite wide bridge which allows young children to lie flat on the surface pond filled with large and mature golden carp. The hint of danger for small children and the impending problems are guarded against by a notice to parents.

The pond is crossed by a typical red painted elliptical wooden and quite wide bridge which allows young children to lie flat on the surface and peer between the uprights at the fish only a few centimetres below. The children I observed gained great delight from this while the fish appeared quite used to the sounds and movements from above. A trained conifer extends a limb over the pond while beyond earth and rocks excavated when creating the pond are used to hide a filter and pump unit for the pond and also a small well with a stone trough.

Beyond the bridge a line of stepping stones may lead the visitor into the woodlands but out of sight is a Japanese pavilion with seating, ideal for wet weather or shade from the sun on warm days. A number of rhododendrons have been planted around the pavilion which is angled to look across the footpath to a very special Chelsea Flower Show Gold award-winning artisan garden - created in London and then rebuilt in Blaxton.

Also within the glade area and immediately opposite the pond and bridge is a Karesansui area of garden framed by conifers but highlighting a large gritstone wheel resting on four smaller stone lions. This type of grinding wheel was used locally in the windmills of North Yorkshire / Lincolnshire for the production of flour through until their eventual demise in the late 19th and early 20th century, and is a reminder of wind power in this flat agricultural area. Only a few visitors will appreciate the significance of this now bygone artefact.

There are four bridges which can be used to leave the woodland area and enter the open garden region beyond but possibly the best is another Japanese style elliptical bridge which crosses the northward flowing fresh water stream.

Once on the lawns of the main field, most visitors will follow the footpath parallel to the distant road and head into the main feature. This man-made valley begins narrow but progressively widens and deepens as you progress westwards until at the far end it is wide enough to take a second Japanese-style pavilion with both seating and an observation area. The valley sides are studded with sandstone rocks plus numerous conifers, rhododendrons and many other bushes, while the valley floor has probably been lined to allow a lake to develop with water reeds and lilies in abundance. A path follows the valley floor as it becomes deeper and wider leading into the pavilion - a delightful path alongside the flowering lily beds in the summer. Interesting that the spoil from the valley excavation has been used to create hills beyond the pavilion which protects it from the dominant westerly winds but at the same time providing a suitable site for conifers and bamboos which fit in so well with the wooden Japanese pavilion.

 

Beyond this man-made valley feature, the extensive field is carefully mowed allowing the visitor easy access to the areas of standing stones often close to or interspersed with an interesting variety of conifers. However, the main delight for most visitors are the sandstone rock seats and the mounded hills with a vast array of now maturing conifers all of which are clearly labelled allowing visitors to note any of interest. The conifer sizes give an indication of speed of as well as form and spread so it is possible what maybe suitable for the average garden. There are a vast array of different habits and colours so the visitor has a real opportunity to see maturing plants before making any purchases.

 

At this point, many visitors will return to the main nursery area where a café provides any item from a simple drink through to a full-scale meal. This may be taken inside but most prefer to sit outside along the edge of the Japanese water feature with its feeder streams, koi carp, lanterns and the stone built humpback bridge which almost produces a full moon reflection. A footpath leads onto the bridge for delightful views across this water feature area."

 

Japanese influences discovered at Walkers Garden Nursery - Written By Trevor Nash (C)

Japanese Garden Society journal “Shakkei”