Kennall Vale House

A small but enthusiastic group of 15 CGT members met in autumn sun at Kennall Vale House, the site of a former gunpowder factory, situated in a rocky valley, with  allied manager’s house and the remains of industrial buildings used in that industry.

Mr Wilson Holt kindly showed us round the 6 acre garden he has created over the past 17 years from this rather romantic wild site.  The varied site, with river, marshy areas, rock outcrops, meadow and sheltered former walled orchard, has been used to plant a huge range of rare and exotic trees and shrubs which are flourishing there, despite the predations of deer and rabbits.

We followed gravel paths, always aware of the small river rushing along bisecting the garden, down past two ponds to the large wildlife pond created beside a further acreage of wild meadow, planted with rare lime, elm and birch. The use of old granite and well placed lichen covered ‘recycled’ stones  contributed, together with the  plantings of some old rhododendrons and more recent camellias, tree ferns and conifers to a feeling of  stability and age in the garden.  The sheltered  walled area, walls  originally built  as  blast-baffles, has a Victorian dipping pond it, and an old apple tree has mistletoe flourishing in it.   It has now been grassed over and planted round the walls with herbaceous borders which share this sheltered warm area with rare shrubs.  Bark and winter shape are further features throughout the garden, with many varieties of Acer, as well as rare conifers.

The visit was much enjoyed by everyone and Elisabeth Walker thanked Mr Wilson Holt on behalf of the group. An added bonus of CGT visits was the opportunity to discover other local ‘attractions’ including the Kennall Vale nature reserve adjacent to the garden, and nearby a Greek Orthodox chapel!

Lucie Nottingham – 12th October 2011