Bridge Nursery in Napton, Warwickshire is one of those places that is frequently advertised as being open under the National Gardens Scheme and yet I never seem to have managed to visit! Until now, that is, and I am so glad that I finally made the trip. Napton is derived from the old English cnaepp meaning ‘hilltop’ and tun meaning ‘settlement’ and its relatively high location affords fantastic views and nearby walks.
Bridge Nursery was established 25 years ago by Christine Dakin and her expertise lies not only in growing perennials, bamboos, ornamental grasses, alpines, shrubs and herbs but also in positioning them in the adjacent garden which is open daily under the NGS scheme.
The garden is situated on heavy clay soil so if you happen to garden in similar conditions then a visit to Bridge Nursery is a must, as every plant in the garden is thriving and a very good indicator of what does well in these conditions. “In winter, the beds are waterlogged and yet in summer they can be so dry that great cracks appear” says Christine, who is happy to help you choose the correct plants for your own garden.
The mown pathways between the beds are cleverly planted mainly with clover and the curved beds are crammed with beautiful and sinuous grasses and bamboos, intermingled with Kniphofia, Helleniums, Clematis, Salvias and Crocosmia. September is a good time to visit, as the numerous Asters will be flowering.
A large (and very deep-looking) pond crammed with water lilies is situated at the end of the garden where we spotted a rather fun giant panda statue with its head stuck into the bamboo!
Although teas are not offered here, Napton general stores is only a couple of minutes away by car where you can enjoy tea and coffee along with a tempting range of baked goods. The pretty area is unspoiled with many picturesque villages to drive through and well worth a detour from the M40.
Christine sells local honey and black garlic – a tasty caramelised treat that goes well with cheese. The garlic is grown at Bridge Nursery and has been slow cooked at a very low temperature for 3 to 4 weeks. Delicious. You will definitely not go home empty handed – I didn’t!