Monday, February 17, 2014

Copton Ash - A Garden of Shadow and Sun

The glorious weather in the south of England brought people of all ages out in their droves. By the time we arrived at Copton Ash Garden just after noon parking was already becoming an issue.  A dozen or so people had beat us to the midday opening.

This garden is a delight from the moment you walk through the gateway of the long front garden. Plants abound in borders on both side of the driveway. One area is set beneath a wooden structure, open at the sides, with a canopy of glass to protect the choice alpines that the owner Tim Ingram grows beneath.  There is so much colour in the garden for the 16th February, not only from the flowering shrubs but from the borders too. The wealth of green foliage indicates that this will be a garden to return to on one of its many openings for the NGS until Sunday 8th June. However it is possible to see the garden independently by appointment until the end of October.

After a very slow preamble down the driveway we entered the back garden via the side pathway, onto a terrace. From here you can survey the length of the garden, but there is much more hidden from view. Tim Ingram opens at this time of year to display his extensive collection of snowdrops, which for the most part are planted in clumps in wide woodland borders, beneath the raised canopies of ornamental trees and in the orchard. Where possible the different clumps are all well labeled, the temptation to tramp across the wider borders to search for the name of a clump, was respected by all of the visitors that I could see…

Double Hellebore
Hellebores also featured strongly, one in particular Helleborus torquatus 'Tinkerbell' Group (Blackthorn) was to me a complete novelty. Information for this species can be found at Graham Rice's webpage. Different varieties of Iris reticulata, crocus, aconites, arums and many alpine beauties. Unfortunately the ground was too wet to scrabble about searching for labels which I am sure were well buried.  An area of orchard lay behind these woodland borders, with large compost areas behind these.

Beneath the trees in the orchard lines, still more snowdrops, grew to perfection. I have seen now a couple of times initially I was not been too keen on the yellow pedicel and yellowish markings of Galanthus plicatus 'Wendy’s Gold' but grown in a large clump they shone and will now at some point be added to my new garden.
Woodland border

Helleborus torquatus 'Tinkerbell' Group (Blackthorn)
Recent tree damage was evident, a large eucalyptus lay, partially cleared from one grass pathway. Other areas were blocked off, these areas were in need of clearance. One can only sympathise, not only has the weather made gardening of any kind outdoors nigh impossible…I remember only too well the challenges of keeping on top of the enormous work there is in anything other than a small plot. Copton Ash is not a small garden. And among all his other work, Tim Ingram runs a small alpine nursery.

Only a few plants were available in his nursery but we will be back later in the year when the nursery is open and the garden is in full early summer glory. Tim admitted to us that he only opens up until the beginning of June because the challenge of keeping the weeds at bay becomes too much.
It was as we walked back up towards the house, with the sun cutting through the trees, lighting the bark of a Silver Birch tree, that I appreciated how many wonderful trees were in the garden too. Another reason to return.

Copton Ash is the kind of garden I love…a work in progress. A man’s love for the plants that he grows, this above all shines through.

Galanthus Wendy's Gold

Galanthus Mrs Thompson
Glanthus plicatus 'Gerard Parker' 


  1. Lovely pictures! The garden sounds worth a visit.

    1. It is Patsy...opens several times in the year. We intend to return later. I didn't really mention the trees partially because I wasn't sure of the names of many of them.