When a visit to Dunge Valley Gardens was first suggested by the Parwich Ladies’ Group, quite frankly I was not wildly excited. I think it was the name which conjured up images in my mind of gunge, dungeons… quite very childish I know, but words do intrigue me.
Curiosity took over. I had actually never heard of the gardens, and they’re in Cheshire, and grow Rhododendrons and Azaleas, which I do love but which hate our limestone soils so we can only grow them in pots (ours outside Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns are looking particularly lovely at the moment).
It was chilly on Wednesday when we went, and grey and drizzly – not ideal weather – and we all were glad of winter coats with hoods! The gardens are technically Kettleshulme, about ten or fifteen minutes the other side of Buxton, but you would not find them by accident. It seemed miles up a windy and seriously narrow track, and then – with quite a sense of relief – suddenly once chances upon a fine looking stone house, with a pleasant enough garden in front of it, with paths leading off it.
So it is a garden you explore, never quite knowing what you are going to come to next. There were wonderful specimens of Rhododendrons and other plants and trees, streams to cross and slopes to climb. It was lovely. Had the weather been kinder, it would have felt even lovelier. If you go, do take warm clothes and sensible shoes. Some if the paths were quite slippery even though obviously carefully maintained. There is a greenhouse with lots of healthy looking interesting plants for sale, which seemed quite expensive but maybe I’m out of touch.