|The Quarry Garden at Dorothy Clive offers spectacular early season colours|
A charming garden to visit at any time, but The Dorothy Clive Garden near Market Drayton on the Shropshire/Staffordshire borders, provides real eye candy early in the season, with its spectacular woodland displays of rhododendrons. This 12-acre garden was created by the late Colonel Clive in memory of his wife, Dorothy who had Parkinson's Disease, so that she could enjoy the woodland walks. Today it is run by the Willoughbridge Garden Trust, which continues to extend and improve it.
|The waterfall at the heart of the Dorothy Clive Quarry garden|
The gardens are divided into two main areas - The Quarry Garden (above), with its central waterfall, which is cut into into a steep hill and filled with a fine collection of rhododendrons and azaleas - and the Hillside Garden (see below). There is also a Gravel Garden, added in 1990 to commemorate the garden's 50th anniversary. But it is the Quarry Garden that's in full bloom right now, so head there first if you want to see every colour in the rainbow.
|Colonel Clive created the garden for his wife Dorothy, who had Parkinson's Disease|
Colonel Harry Clive started the garden in 1936, when he began clearing pathways through the disused gravel quarry adjacent to his home, so that his disabled wife, Dorothy, could walk there. And the garden continued to grow as he collected more and more rhododendrons. Today there are more than 250 species and cultivars and it is one of the finest collections in the country.
|The Hillside Garden at Dorothy Clive|
The Gravel Garden, added 20 years ago, to celebrate the half century of the gardens, houses the spectacular laburnum arch, as well as a fine collection of grasses. But the striking laburnum - in full flower right now - and underplanted with purple alliums, is definitely the 'piece de resistance' in the garden this month. This is a laburnum walk to rival Rosemary Verey's at Barnsley House, and a close contender to the one at Bodnant.
|Alpine scree section of hillside garden at Dorothy Clive|
The Hillside Garden incorporates an alpine scree garden and has magnificent colourful borders, which are now coming into bloom. The garden is open daily from April to the end of October from 10.00-17.30 and admission is £6.75 for adults. It's close enough to the M6 to be easily accessible from North and South. Other notable properties in the area include Biddulph Grange and Wollerton Old Hall - both to be reviewed in the next few weeks.