We visit a beautiful nursery in Cumbria that draws visitors from all over the country.
Larch Cottage Nurseries in Cumbria has been owned by Peter Stott for 28 years. What began as a small enterprise behind a row of beautiful Lakeland cottages in the village of Melkinthorpe has become, through sheer hard work and determination, a busy nursery covering some six acres.
Larch Cottage however, is no ordinary nursery, it is a living, growing work of art and it is easy to lose oneself in the maze of garden rooms which are divided up by stone walls that Peter has built himself, using a glorious blend of local stones and red bricks.
We found Peter, a self confessed workaholic, at the far end of the nursery working on his latest project, which he started work on two years ago. It is a tiny chapel that he is building in the same style as the stone walls in the nursery.
I have to confess that I have never met anyone before who has built their own chapel to get married in. But that is exactly what this charming building is for. Next year Peter’s partner Joanne will walk through the nursery and down the sinuous path next to a stream. At the end of the path is a pond, which is positioned to give a perfect reflection of the chapel. Then, in that romantic building she and Peter will be married.
Behind the chapel is open pasture, then a forest of conifers draws the eye further into the landscape, and out to the broad sweep of the Pennines in the distance.
Peter is a landscape designer who says that he is privileged to enjoy what he does, and from the smile on his face when he says that, I can well believe him. He told us that of the estimated 90,000 visitors per year, about 85% come from over 50 miles away. Many of them return regularly to see what his latest projects are.
We left Peter hard at work on the roof of his chapel and walked back up to the nursery, stopping briefly to say hello to Carl, who works with Peter. He was working on the new landscaping scheme around the stream.
Larch Cottage caters for people who love plants and gardens, and there is plenty to inspire them. In the sheltered areas between the high stone walls we became so absorbed in what we were seeing that we forgot about the cool northerly wind that had been blowing all day. We found an amazing selection of plants for sale. Not just one or two varieties of each type, but many interesting and unusual specimens which would have any gardener making plans for another border.
Organic Kitchen Garden
There were Conifers of all shapes, textures and colours, from dark green through to blue and bright yellow. Herbaceous plants, ornamental grasses, camellias, fruit trees and broad leaf trees filled every space, and on raised platforms beneath a large pergola were large collections of Hostas and ferns.
Amongst the plants were a number of classical statues, as well as some contemporary sculptures. As if all this was not enough, there is also a large kitchen garden which is neatly laid out, and full of produce.
After spending a very enjoyable couple of hours exploring this delightful nursery we were ready for some refreshment and near the entrance; underneath a series of arches we found the Greenhouse Restaurant where they serve meals prepared with local produce, some of which has been grown in the organic kitchen garden which we had admired earlier.
We found a table next to a large window overlooking a small pond, which was spanned by a Monet style bridge. There we sat and drank coffee along with a slice each of cake which was blueberry and lemon polenta topped with toasted almonds. If you want to know how amazing it tasted, you will have to visit Larch Cottage Nurseries for yourself. I have to tell you, it will be worth the trip.
If you are not able to visit Larch Cottage Nurseries in person, they have a comprehensive web site and provide a mail order service.
The Monet style bridge