A short drive from the village of Gringley on the Hill, down a quiet lane towards the Carrs, is an unusual garden, hidden away and well worth exploring this summer. Ellicar Gardens is a vibrant, naturalistic family garden, set in five acres and a treat for garden lovers and wildlife enthusiasts alike.
Home to the Murch family, Will (horticulturalist) and Sarah (Garden Designer) have pooled together their horticultural knowledge and enthusiasm and set about creating a garden that is rich and diverse in plants and wildlife. Wandering through the gardens, it is hard to imagine that just seven years ago this was still an overgrown field.
“We moved here to an overgrown wilderness and created the garden from scratch,” says Sarah, who has a passion for gardening and plants. “We were drawn to the place with its wild beauty and I have tried to preserve that feeling. The gardens are free flowing and naturalistic with relaxed, prairie style planting. Wildflowers grow freely through the borders with self-seeding in abundance. Nothing is too controlled and it is easy to look after.”
Sarah and Will regularly hold charity fundraising days and welcome visitors each year for our National Garden Scheme open days.
Ellicar Gardens is a showcase for contemporary, low maintenance gardening and a paradise for plant lovers. Pathways lead you to explore the Rose Garden, Potager, Gravel Garden, Wild Flower Meadows, Winter Garden, Orchard, even a Willow Maze and School Garden. An added attraction is the family’s menagerie of friendly rare breed pets.
For most visitors, a highlight of the garden is relaxing beside Ellicar’s famous natural pool. The pool’s crystal clear water is chemical free, purified and filtered naturally by water plants. Relaxing beside the water, watching swallows dip and dragonflies dart past, you may even catch a glimpse of the kingfisher, which likes to perch on a nearby deckchair.
Since building their natural pool, Will and Sarah have become part of a company which specialises in the design and construction of natural pools and wildlife ponds across the UK.
“We have seen a real interest in natural pools as an ecological alternative to conventional pools,” says Sarah. “People use their natural pools to relax, unwind, connect with nature, for outdoor living, alfresco dining as well as swimming. We design natural pools for glamping sites and hotel spas as well as domestic gardens. The health benefits are immense and natural pools are a beautiful part of any garden.”
Will and Sarah are amazed at the biodiversity of wildlife that has come to live at Ellicar in such a short time. With bats, newts, amphibians and rare dragonflies living around the natural pool; voles, butterflies, bumblebees and wild birds are abound in the rest of the gardens. Flowers provide nectar and seed heads feed the garden birds in winter.
“Everything we plant here impacts on wildlife — it is either food for someone or a home for someone else — it makes you realise just how important our gardens are to wildlife, and how we can still have a beautiful garden with a positive impact on wildlife by adapting our planting and gardening methods,” commented Sarah.
Sarah and Will are holding a Natural Pool Open Day at Ellicar Gardens on 16th June. Visitors can expect a warm welcome with friendly horticultural advice, refreshments and home baked cakes, garden gifts, unusual plants for sale and garden workshops. For opening dates, directions and more information see www.ellicargardens.co.uk.