Ellicar Gardens -open for NGS 25th February @ellicargardens

There aren’t many invitations that start with the warning “beware of the goose!” But when Sarah Murch sent an e-mail inviting us to visit, she told us to sound our horn when we arrived. She would safely let us in past the goose.

Now, I had a very unfortunate experience with a gander some years ago. I only just managed to outrun him. They are surprisingly scary at full speed, with their necks out stretched and wings flapping. Not an experience I particularly wished to repeat.

But to be honest, we didn’t need to worry. The Ellicar garden goose was more concerned with guarding his “family” of adopted bantam chicks. But we gave him a very wide berth anyway.

The newly-hatched chicks and goose combination were just the start of what turned out to be a most surprising visit. We found a llama, goats, rare breed sheep, cows and two adorable rescue pigs. And they all clearly love their owner. They all come racing across the field as soon as they catch sight of Sarah.

This is Orlando, Sarah’s newest acquisition; a birthday present, she explains. Well, I’ve never met anyone who’s had a llama as a birthday present before, but I’m soon quite envious. I find myself enquiring exactly where one could obtain such a gorgeous creature, how much they eat, how much they cost…… I’m nearly ready to order one on the spot when I hear the coat can be brushed and fluff woven and knitted into jumpers! What a joy. We move swiftly on. Turning our thoughts to the gardens, around the corner, past the paddocks, is a sight of great beauty- a natural swimming pool.

The pool is frozen over when we visit, but Sarah explains the water is warm enough to swim in from March to November. The temperature is 17C in spring, and 20-26C in summer. The pool is naturally filtered and surrounded by grasses and willows that cast their reflections on the water. Sarah painted a lovely picture when she described swimming with kingfishers flying by, just above their heads.

The garden is planted with wildlife in mind and many of the perennials and shrubs provide nectar for bees and butterflies, and seeds for birds. Grasses are a special feature of the garden. At this time of the year, they look stunning, backlit by a sunset, which is when I took these photos.

The grasses include various stipa, silver feather grass Miscanthus Silberfeder, and feather reed grass Calamagrostis Overdam.

Seed heads shine amongst the colourful dogwoods and willows; eupatorium, aster and sedums in particular.

Coral bark willow, Salix Britzensis- pollarded to produce bright red stems- looks fabulous set against a background of white silver birches. They are underplanted with masses of emerging spring bulbs, including crocus, snowdrops, iris and narcissi.

We love this living willow “fedge” a cross between a fence and a hedge, with teasel heads in front. And there’s a children’s garden, with bug hotel, wild flower planting- and even a willow den.

Ellicar Gardens covers five acres and has been created over the past eight years by Sarah and her husband Will. The gardens open this Sunday February 25, 12-4pm for the NGS charity. There are other opening dates on the website. Adults £4.50, children free. Carr Road, Gringley-on-the- Hill, Doncaster, DN10 4SN. For more information : ngs.org.uk. Hodsock Priory is about 20 minutes drive away and the winter garden there is open until March 4th. Their last opening day is also in aid of the NGS.

Hodsock Priory .

Ellicar Gardens

Two happier pigs have never been seen! Just irresistible.

35 thoughts on “Ellicar Gardens -open for NGS 25th February @ellicargardens

  1. What a paradise! Would love to visit too. I was once”goosed” by a goose and am a little nervous of them now, but I would brave it out just to meet those pigs. What beauties. And the thought of swimming in that pond on a warm summers day, just amazing!

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  2. What a lovely garden this sems to be, and certainly shows how much interest there can be in a garden in winter – even without the varied menagerie! A natural swimming pool would be wonderful to have, but sadly never going to happen here… Good to think that the season for garden visiting is beginning again, isn’t it?

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  3. I got flack for writing about pollarding and coppicing. They are so uncool here. People in cooler climates where deciduous trees are more popular do not seem to be too bothered by it, and know how to use it to their advantage.

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  4. Christina the photos are magnificent. A goose devoted father with chickens chickens: lovely. Goats, rare sheep, cows, pigs and the llama Orlando are pet animals a little different; but everyone loves his mistress and they run towards her as soon as they see her. The natural pool and its environment of trees is a marvellous. And that the garden is planted thought of wildlife I love: even with an insect hotel. The herbs and seeds are precious. The coral bark willow is wonderful; on the ground bulbs blunting and saffron. The living “fedge” willow is as beautiful as the willow lair and the planting of wild flowers. The two pigs seem to be smiling at the camera. They look very happy! In the link Jardines de Ellicar you can see pictures of the gardens in full bloom and they are magnificent because of the variety of flowers and places. You can also see the pool with its owners swimming. The owners of Ellicar are very generous opening their gardens one day to the public and the proceeds donate it to the NGS charity. Karen, I am very happy that you and your Mother had a great time seeing the gardens of Ellicar. I have enjoyed them by your side virtually thanks to the photos. Give many loving memories to your Mother. To you my love. Take care. Greetings from Margarita.

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  5. Before we came here we rented a cottage on a lake which had a resident population of geese. I’ve adored them ever since, even though I did once get bitten and that was not pleasant. I was offering food as well. Ellicar looks like my perfect garden. Have I space for a llama I wonder? 🙂

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    • That goose that chased me was raised by us! The ungrateful thing!!! As soon as he wouldn’t let me in to my own paddock I sent him to a kind neighbouring farmer where he lived out a happy life keeping livestock and machinery safe from burglars. Ellicar is heaven. You must come this way one day. I’ll show you the best gardens in the area. I have been measuring up the back field for a llama……and some sheep….and Guernsey goats. The bantam chicks have my name on them :)) xx


  6. Karen thank you for your kind words. I’m so pleased you enjoyed exploring our garden in winter and meeting the menagerie! Really look forward to you visiting again in summer to see all the flowers and don’t forget there are several young Pekin chickens out there with your name on them…
    Sarah x

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    • Thank you for the kind invitation Sarah. Mum and I had a fabulous afternoon. We were still laughing about all the lovely animals as we were driving home. Good luck with your NGS open day, see you soon, I hope! All the best. Karen


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