I Went to Ashwood and…..


….saw the boss’s garden!

Several times a year, John Massey, the owner of Ashwood nursery, opens his garden for charity. In all the years we have lived here, as well as been ardent visitors to the nursery, we have never been to his open garden. How dreadful! There’s always something else going on – and the last time we planned to visit, it chucked down with rain! But, at last, a couple of weeks ago, we managed it!

We were definitely not disappointed. Talk about an understatement! It was so much more than we had anticipated.

It is a beautiful 3 acre garden, set on the banks of the Staffordshire and Worcestersire canal. It’s a garden full of island beds and sinuous grass paths, under a wonderful selection of mature trees. These beds are burgeoning with the most beautiful collection of choice shrubs, grasses and perennials. As if the mixed planting is not interest enough, the borders are punctuated with incredible statues and features.

We took so many photos, that it would be impossible to show you them all! I’ll just have to try to select a choice few.

With such a predominance of shrubs, I was amazed at the amount of colour there was, and not just from flowers. The foliage played its part too.


And the bark.

There were the most sumptuous and amazing flowers, such as this paeony.


The colour combinations were stunning!

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This scented shrub is a new one to me. And I must find out what it is! Any ideas?


A beautiful pond, complete with waterfall and deck, was backed by a grand rockery.



I loved the loggia! It had such a Mediterranean feel, so full of scent.


But, taking a left turning on arrival, will take you to a natural wildlife meadow. They’ve paid particular attention to wildlife, by incorporating features such as log piles, and beehives.


And a tree that looks like it stepped straight out of the Hobbit!


What a peaceful, idyllic view of the Staffordshire countryside!


I’ll leave you with some more shots of the imaginative planting and features.




If you ever get the chance, take it!

15 thoughts on “I Went to Ashwood and…..

  1. mattb325

    Lovely garden, indeed….some of the foliage and colour combos are just fantastic! I think your mystery shrub is Chionanthus virginicus (the fringe tree) but I could be mistaken….

    1. thelonggardenpath Post author

      I couldn’t believe how colourful the whole garden was, with so much emphasis on shrubs. Thank you for identifying my mystery shrub. I’ve checked out its “statistics” and, sadly, it won’t be suitable for my garden. I’ll just have to visit again! 🙂

  2. Chloris

    What a great garden, super shrubs and trees and how wonderful to find the legendary Paeonia suffruticosa ‘ Joseph Rock’ in bloom. My seed grown baby of this is now 3 years old and I can hardly wait for it those wonderful flowers.
    I love the use of gravel, it is a wonderful way to display plants.

  3. thelonggardenpath Post author

    It was amazing – and so immaculate! They (or he!) uses a fair bit of gravel. One shot I took, showed wending rivers of gravel, punctuated with spikes of irises – lovely! Thanks for identifying the paeony. I wasn’t aware of plant labels, but there was so much to appreciate, there was little time for labels! It certainly had the “wow” factor! Hope yours won’t be too much longer in flowering, that you’ll share that beauty with us all! You are so patient!

  4. Angie

    Such beautiful gardens, one I am probably likely never to visit. I think you for sharing your trip out with us.
    My local nursery has the very same Peony (Joseph Rock) growing in his grounds. There was one for sale at ÂŁ94 but it was really beyond me budget. Maybe one day!
    My favourite shot is actually the swans in amongst those grasses, perfect. I think I could stare at them all day long.

    1. thelonggardenpath Post author

      How much?!! Good grief, definitely beyond my budget too! Chloris has been growing one from seed, and now I can appreciate why she has been so patient! It is definitely a stunner!
      I love the swans too. The bed backs on to the canal, and I was hoping to get a shot, with a narrowboat passing in the background. Just wasn’t quick enough!

  5. The Frustrated Gardener

    Lovely post. There’s a whiff of Alan Bloom and John Brooks about the garden so I am guessing it dates from the 80’s when conifers and gravel gardens were all the rage? I love the loggia and all those aeoniums. I can’t help with your shrub/tree sadly. I saw exactly the same one at Walmer Castle a few weeks ago and haven’t worked out what it is yet.

    1. thelonggardenpath Post author

      Yes, I suppose there is, with all those mature trees and shrubs, and all the island beds. He acquired the nursery in 1968 and his home is attached, so the dates tally. The trees were definitely so mature, and must have been there such a long time.
      Thanks to Mattb235 (see above)! He has identified my unknown shrub as Chionanthus virginicus, or Fringe tree. And thank you, for your kind comment!

  6. Cathy

    Lovely garden and thanks for sharing it Pauline! Especially nice to see ‘Joseph Rock’. I would love to acquire as well, but always put off by the price. Chloris, as you say, is very patient … and right to be so!

  7. thelonggardenpath Post author

    It was definitely a plantsman’s garden, with some choice plants. And immaculately maintained. I’m glad to have met such an esteemed gent as “Joseph Rock”! Thank you!
    P.s. I’m Ali, by the way! 🙂

  8. Brian Skeys

    We have visited a couple of times, I think it is one of THE top gardens, especially in the spring with all the flowering shrubs and trees, bulbs, foliage and bark colour.


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