The story so far: we planted Hornbeam hedges in March 2011 to divide the garden up into rooms, and they are now over 8′ tall. We didn’t have a plan that we could agreed on for the largest room, which we named Room #102 (the other project awaiting a design having been called Room #101). In May 2014 we visited Compton Acres (Nr Poole in Dorset) and were very taken with the Japanese Garden.
On return home, out of curiosity, I looked on Google Earth to see if I could make out the orientation of the pond and the paths. I couldn’t make out enough to be useful (heavily surrounded by trees) but the scale on the satellite photo surprised me as it looked as though it would fit, more or less, into our Room #102. Over the winter months I read up on Japanese Garden Design and in particular the Japanese Stroll Gardens, and I decided to go back to Compton Acres with a tape measure! to check both the size and proportions. That attracted some interest from other visitors to the garden and some warm words of encouragement countering my suggestion that I was daft!
Having made the pilgrimage halfway across the country to Dorset I took the opportunity to stop at Barthelemy & Co. They are specialist growers of Japanese Maples and I have been looking for some plants about 2M tall and Barthelemy came both highly recommended and their prices are very reasonable. The only catch is that they don’t ship the taller ones, which I can understand as they would be bound to get biffed about by couriers. The couple who run the nursery were lovely, most welcoming and knowledgeable, and probably because I showed an interest they were kind enough to give me a guided tour around the nursery. They grow and pot up 25,000 maple seedlings a year – and there was me thinking some of my exploits were a little on the mad side!
We then had a look in the polytunnel for the plants which were grafted last year
There are two tunnels (just covered with netting to keep the birds out) for plants laid out for sale:
The smaller plants (on the bench) were £9 each, and the larger ones on the ground £17
and in the second tunnel the plants were in about 10L pots and (the upright ones) about 2M tall in the price range £60-75. The best value I’ve seen online from the likes of Paramount Plants is £125 for a 2M plant and, if buying online, would be sight-unseen, so if you have the chance to visit Barthelemy & Co in Dorset you’ll save some money (or buy more plants!!) and have a large choice.
Quality of the plants was superb. Not a single scruffy specimen put out for sale (indeed, there were some in the growing tunnels held back for another year because the shape they had grown was not acceptable so they were being given more time to grow-out and be trained).
So I filled the car!
I also took the opportunity to buy some Japanese Pines – something to have a go at training Japanese Style in the new Stroll Garden. A long term project – will there be anything to show for it in 10 years I wonder?