Here you will find a list of the gardens taking part in Blackfordby Open Gardens 2019 on the weekend of 1-2 June, with a brief description of what you will find there. This is our suggested order, but you are free to visit in any order you choose.
The gardens will be open between 10 am and 4 pm. Please note that some gardens have restricted access and no car parking, so for those driving it is advisable to park at the main football field, off Main Street.
You can download the Open Gardens Map here.
15 Strawberry Lane
In this tidy village garden, to the front and rear via a side gate, you will find roses, potted plants and wildflowers such as the meadow cranesbill in flower.
Also known as the meadow geranium, it’s the parent of many varieties of hardy garden geraniums and is more commonly found not in gardens but in meadows, roadside verges and grassland.
There are interesting stone planters to the front wall and a 20-year-old Acer japonica aurea. Entrance to the highly organised stepped walled rear garden (with limited wheelchair access) is via the right-hand side gate.
Note: The garden owner will be selling named snowdrops on the day to brighten up your garden next Spring with something very special, as well as wildflowers.
23 Strawberry Lane
A large, very well organised quarter-acre rear garden embracing a large manicured lawn surrounded by a host of specimen plants, trees and shrubs.
This includes different varieties of roses, a heather bed, hydrangea, an interesting Sambucus nigra (Black Lace) common elder, white lilac and fuchsias creating a mini hedge.
Delve a litter deeper still and you will find clematis, camelia and an unusual potato vine – known as a delightful late bloomer, in early summer months it’s a rapid green grower, that climbs greedily and wraps itself around anything it can get hold of. Then just as the rest of the garden plants are past their peak, this eye-catcher produces fabulous white star-shaped flowers with yellow stamens.
With wide open spaces in between, there are specimen trees such as Bramley apple and Morello cherry and magnolia stallata.
Note: Entry to this garden is via the front and of special note is a Virginia creeper which is nevertheless neatly trimmed in its bid to climb the house frontage. Wheelchair access available to many areas. The garden owner will have a bric-a-brac sale during the Open Garden weekend.
6 North Close
A bungalow’s small, split level rear garden complete with roses, herbaceous borders and lots and lots of potted plants. Other items of interest would be the highly scented elaeagnus angustifolia, a large deciduous suckering shrub with silvery shoots, and a Malus ‘Gorgeous’ crabapple.
Note: Entry is via a side gate only.
16 Elstead Lane (Little Corner of England)
As the name suggests, a corner plot initially noticeable for its flagpole. In the highly organised garden to the front and rear, you will find a wide selection of homegrown geraniums, asters, antirrhinums, petunias, marigolds and sunflowers.
The garden is neatly decked on two sides with a garden room (for entertaining of course) and potting shed. Lawned with lots of potted plants.
Note: Entry is via a side gate only.
6 Church Close
Neat village garden with a small frog-friendly pond (that means no fish to eat the tadpoles!), herbaceous plants, shrubs and rockery. Of special interest is the garden door to nowhere, gargoyles, hawthorns, dwarf lilac, specimen miniature conifer, various Acer trees to back and front.
Note: Potted plants will be for sale for charity. There is a stepped entrance to the side.
The Old School House – access from Main Street or Well Lane
At the old schoolmaster’s house, a grade II listed building erected in 1888, via a stepped entrance you can enter a large walled garden built on different levels. The top part, with its raised koi pond and smaller pond, is dominated by a huge Lime tree.
The garden enjoys one of the best views of Blackfordby and its surrounds, with visibility across the village green all the way across fields and forests to the Birmingham Post Office Tower on a clear day.
There are lots of shade-loving plants including geraniums, penstemons, bamboo, climbing hydrangea, rambling rose, castor oil plant and honeysuckle. Watch out for the Devil’s Thorn tree! Interestingly the leaves of this tree, when added to water, create a foamy substance that can be a very effective substitute for soap. Best not to touch its spiny thorns though from which it derives its name.
Note: On Saturday only, when Blackfordby Primary School will be open throughout the day, you can also enter this garden via a side gate from the school playing area. On Sunday enter via the front gate (opposite the Rec). Not suitable for wheelchairs.
Oak Cottage, Well Lane, DE11 8AG
Blackfordby’s ‘hidden’ listed thatched cottage sits in 3.4 acres of paddocks and gardens, all of which will be open for the event. Areas of special interest include the old well (after which the lane is most probably named), newly planted woodland, part of the National Forest’s free woods scheme, newly planted wildflowers, allotment and new orchard, old ‘chicken run’ orchard, kitchen and lawned gardens, magnolias, dahlias, specimen trees, several ponds and a waterfall. Plants for sale.
Note: Deep water in some areas and steps.
New Woodland off Oak Cottage, Well Lane
At the very end of Well Lane, throughout the weekend you will find open Oak Cottage’s lower paddock which has been planted out as a new mini woodland. It was planted in February 2017 under the Freewoods scheme in 1.25 acres, so the trees themselves have had just over a year to start establishing themselves. More than 80 of them were planted by the children of Blackfordby Primary School and many have been dedicated to the children themselves, family and friends.
In total some 500 saplings of native trees were planted by the National Forest and its agents: 125 English Oak trees, 75 Silver Birch, 25 Mountain Ash, 25 Field Maple, 25 Sweet Chestnut, 25 Sweet Cherry, 25 Scots Pine, 100 Common Hazel, 25 Dogwood, 25 Crab Apple and 25 Dog Rose. At the lower end of the paddock, an oval stretch of land (where the scarecrows are) has been planted with wildflowers, for which the soil was downgraded as a special 2018 experiment.
Note: There is a badger sett present (please do not disturb) and at the foot of the paddock is a newly shaped 60 ft pond with deep water.
168 Heath Lane
A 1930s house sitting high over the village and the Trent Valley, overlooking open fields with views on a clear day from Bardon Hill to the East (highest point in Leicestershire, an extinct volcano) to, the owners calculate, the Clee Hills in Shropshire some fifty miles to the West.
This is a One Hour Garden for you to take a few minutes to wander around. One hour a week, maximum, because the owners are not gardeners. Instead, they spend time planning it and getting it established, now the cunning plan is to just keep it tidy and enjoy the tranquility and views (plus occasional moles and rabbits). The philosophy of the garden is – if we like it we plant it, leave it and see if it survives. If it does then it is happy there.
Note: The garden contains a few steps and drops.
Amber Cottage, 162 Heath Lane
A small, young garden (only 2 years old) around a 1930s bungalow. Home to plant collectors and the garden is heavily planted with a big range of both well known and unusual plants. The borders are all mixed planted with shrubs, bulbs, climbers, herbaceous perennials and annuals. There’s a small wildlife pond, a water feature and a rill. A greenhouse at the bottom of the garden houses a selection of cacti and succulents. There’s also a small fern garden to the side of the house and a second small greenhouse used for propagation. The rear garden is much lower than the house and is accessed by several steps from a decking area which has lovely views across the Trent Valley. There’s a small lawn (for the three dogs use mainly) and a large number of plants that are grown in pots in various parts of the garden.
Note: The garden has narrow paths, steps and water features and is not wheelchair accessible apart from at the front. It also contains some plants that are listed as being poisonous or have sharp spines (ie cacti).
24 Heath Lane
Close to the outskirts of Blackfordby, near Boundary, is a traditional, open rear garden (entrance via a side gate). Overlooking farmers fields embracing a lovely manicured lawn surrounded by a smart privet hedge and examples of camellia, magnolia, roses, peony, lilacs and potted plants.
There are lots of garden statues too, a large pond, specimen Acer and Spruce trees and rhododendron, plus clematis and honeysuckle climbers. To the front garden, there is an unusual ‘non-winged’ Euonymus elata which is well worth a look.
The Chimes, 1 Ashby Lane
Professionally designed contemporary yet traditional garden around a completely new build property at one of the highest points in the village. The trek up the steep driveway is worth it as the view towards Ashby out from the rear garden is nothing short of spectacular.
The sky is huge here – perfect for stargazing in the hot-tub.
The composite deck is also low maintenance and the whole space is designed to be a calm place to enjoy the view.
This sun trap garden is designed around a circular theme that may not be completely obvious immediately. Smooth curves, clean lines, low maintenance planting, interesting level changes, a hot tub and a swim spa, screening ideas – what more could you want?
Upper Spring Cottage – 6 Main Street
One of the more unusual ways to take full advantage of every available space is through the use of living walls and green screens, both of which are on display here. Ideal for smaller gardens, the irrigated living wall can be home to anything from ferns to grasses, herbs to hardy perennials. They help to deflect water away from walls during times of heavy rainfall and also offer a new kind of habitat for insects. From this garden, just across Main Street, at the famous village spring next to the War Memorial, there is likely to be another display of variegated green screens.
Upper Spring Cottage has a small vegetable garden, flowering borders and a chicken coop.
Note: Access to No 8 Main Street below is via this garden.
Middle Spring Cottage – 8 Main Street
In a row of some of the oldest cottages in Blackfordby, believed to be around 300 years old, Middle Spring Cottage comprises approximately one-third of an acre of unusually shaped, long-established ‘land-locked’ rear garden (hence access is only available via No 6 Main Street). The garden includes a newly planted orchard, large grassed and paved areas, herb garden, roses, fuchsias and chicken coop. A large marquee will be available during the Open Gardens weekend for plant sales.
Note: There are some steps and dry brick walls (beware of the drop) however wheelchair access is still possible though limited in places.
2 Sandtop Lane
A professionally designed garden of one-third of an acre with a good deal of architectural interest cleverly organised into sections embracing a large circular pond feature (with new overhanging decking), kitchen garden and an interesting selection of mature specimen trees all around.
The large white ex-farmhouse itself, occupying an elevated position in Blackfordby, has a newly built garden room with wide steps sweeping down to the lawn and the garden itself, brilliantly blurring the lines between indoors and outdoors.
There’s an unusual use of garden screens behind pleached Hornbeam trees which again add to the discrete sectioning of the garden. Look out for the original cow trough from earlier days of the Farmhouse.
17 Briar Close
With a lovely aspect beyond into farmers fields and the National Forest beyond, this is a rear garden with the emphasis very much on colour provided in the borders by anemones, carnations, sweet peas and stocks in pots!
At the end of a beautifully manicured lawn, surrounded by laurel and beech hedges, is a wooden decked area and to the right are raised beds being used this year to grow herbs. There are also established clematis, sweet-smelling jasmine and honeysuckle plants.
Several large trees are a special feature of this garden, namely a whitebeam, green hornbeam, Acer and flowering cherry.
Note: Entry is via a side gate to the left. Wheelchair access is available.
1 Thorntop Close
A pretty village rear garden known for the colour of its outstanding hanging baskets. The garden also has an equally colourful and wide range of interesting plants which embrace camellias, peonies, pansies, flowering cherry, roses and a central Acer tree.
There is a small berberis tree to the front which is lawned with a camelia, Acer and potted plants.
Note: There are just two steps to negotiate. Entrance to the rear garden and those lovely hanging baskets is via a side gate.
2 Sandtop Close
Just off Main Street, the owners of this pretty garden had quite a job many years ago as the remains of much older homes long since demolished were evident in their garden.
It meant that topsoil had to be imported with the result that the garden today is well drained, thoroughly transformed and cleverly planted in pockets around a central lavender bed, pink flowering rambling rose together with lilies, geranium, clematis and, in the front garden, rockery plants and a north facing hydrangea and cotoneaster.
Note: There will be a charity stall in aid of the Gurkha Welfare Trust, mainly selling Tutbury Glass.
The open gardens in Blackfordby are spread far and wide so it is advisable to follow our recommended route on foot, having parked if necessary on the football field which will be clearly signposted off Main Street.
You can download a printer-friendly version of our Open Gardens Map here.
Please note that Blackfordby Nursery (accessible off Sandtop Lane next to The Village Hall) will be offering a special 10% discount on plants to everyone with a Blackfordby Open Gardens passport wristband on the weekend of 1-2 June. Make sure to pay a visit.
Find out more about our village.
Discover the gardens and download a map.
Find us on the Open Gardens National Directory.