Gooderstone Water Gardens

A Walk on the Wild(ish) Side: Gooderstone Water Gardens

In most of the gardens I have recently visited, my attention has been on the planting combinations and flower and leaf colour and form. Usually I’m looking for plants I’d love to try in my own garden, or else I’m simply lost in admiration for flowers and plants I haven’t a hope of being able to grow.

My visit to Gooderstone Water Gardens was different, in that it was the landscape of the garden that impressed me most. Here you can almost lose yourself in a lush green world of man-made watercourses and large ponds, surrounded by trees and naturalistic planting.

Gooderstone Water Gardens
The planting is so full and lush here that you can’t see the waterway.

The gardens are in what was once a very wet meadow beside a river. They were created by a retired farmer, Billy Knights, whose son made the joking suggestion that, since the meadow was too wet for grazing, it should be made into a water garden. That suggestion appealed to Mr. Knights and it wasn’t long before he’d had the waterways and ponds dug out.

Years later his daughter has restored the gardens and opened them to the public. They appear to be very popular with those looking for somewhere that allows them to spend some quiet time in a place that feels very close to nature.

Flowers at Gooderstone Water Gardens
Heleniums, Achillea and Verbena bonariensis brighten this part of the garden.

The planting in the gardens has a relaxed and somewhat wild feel. In fact, there are many native trees and shrubs. There is also a wildlife trail and a bird hide where you can hope to spot a kingfisher. (We didn’t – but we did see a family of swans enjoying the peaceful waterways.)

Despite the natural look to the planting, there are areas where familiar garden plants add colour and texture. On our visit, we noticed vibrant heleniums, daylilies and purple loosestrife in the planting along the waterways. Elsewhere, the dramatic yellow spires of Verbascum olympicum towered over a mix of tall white daisies and the pinkish-purple spikes of Acanthus.

Flowers at Gooderstone Water Gardens
Left: Heleniums with Lysimachia punctata Right: Verbascum olympicum

This was a thoroughly enjoyable garden visit. I know we’ll be back, because it’s one of my husband’s favourite gardens too. We’ve been here a few times and it always makes us feel good. It is a perfect place to just relax and wander, and to allow yourself to be immersed in a world of nature and peace.

Gooderstone Water Gardens

30 thoughts on “A Walk on the Wild(ish) Side: Gooderstone Water Gardens

    1. It is such a peaceful place to visit that you feel you can really escape from the problems of the world for a while. Lots of cool and shady areas too, but coolest of all is to stay home with the curtains drawn and the fans on. (The cats have got used to ‘their’ fan very quickly!) πŸ™‚

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    1. It’s a good garden for finding some shade! And has lots of seats and a couple of summerhouses to sit in, so well-provided for anyone wanting to take it easy. It’s going to get so hot that I can imagine a paddle in one of the shallower waterways could be tempting, hehe! I think the soil is probably wet in many areas there – lots of plants that like moist soil. So different to here, even though it’s not far away.

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  1. Now, this is my idea of a perfect garden. I suppose the water is part of the reason, as well as all the plants thriving in that wetter environment that supports them. It does seem to have a more natural feel, and the mix of native and cultivated flowers seems especially pleasing. How long will it be until your pond looks like this? Well, at least on a smaller scale!

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    1. I loved the natural feel and there must have been lots of insects, birds and others there. I’m not sure our pond can quite have that look because there isn’t a lot of space around it and, being quite close to the house, it is semi-formal. But I will try to create mini habitats around it and wildlife is already moving in…we shall see! πŸ™‚

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  2. That garden definitely looks like a perfect place to do some wonderful photography! It appears very calming. You have to appreciate someone taking the time to create something like this and share it. Nice images Ann!

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    1. It was a real labour of love. The farmer who created it was working on it all through his retirement, until he died at 93. He’d had the gardens open to the public for over 20 years. They were closed for 5 years after his death but then his daughter restored them and opened them again. It’s an amazing family achievement and a truly lovely place.

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      1. Ann – just sending you a note – for some reason, recently I have not been able to leave a comment on your blog. I am not ignoring you. At least I can still like the blog. WordPress keeps asking me to log in but when I do it will not let me leave a comment. Really weird. Weird since I have two WordPress blogs.

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      2. Thanks Syd! I sometimes get weird things happening with WordPress if I’ve had a tab open for a long time and I’m trying to use the reader. When that happens, likes don’t stick when I make them and I can’t comment. It resolves OK if I open a new tab. (I even used to find that it wouldn’t let me continue editing a post, which got a bit hairy but seems OK now.)

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  3. Thank you for taking us along on your visit to this wonderful garden. Ann. I’m always impressed by the wide-reaching impact some people have made by their lives, such as Mr. Knights and his daughter. What a lovely legacy for all the creatures who live there, and for those who visit.
    Best,
    Tanja

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