Monday 20 August 2012

Breezy Knees Garden and Nursery

The tremendous display of hardy perennials in the Lawned Garden at Breezy Knees.
To start my visits to Yorkshire gardens I decided yesterday to visit Breezy Knees Garden and Nursery at Warthill near York. I had heard good things about it locally, and its praises were sung at the Shropshire Hardy Plant Society meeting where I spoke on Saturday: it was also written-up by Roy Lancaster in the June 2012 issue of The Garden. As my reading has been somewhat interrupted of late I hadn't seen that article, but it is conveniently available as a pdf here (goodness knows where my hard copy is!).

As recounted by Roy, Breezy Knees was started in 1999 by Colin and Marylen Parker, on an ex-farmland site in the Vale of York, on rather sandy soil and exposed to wind and cold. The garden now covers about 14 acres, and is composed of a series of garden spaces with different characters. This gives space to grow an incredible diversity of hardy perennials, with some woody plants. They claim to grow 6000 varieties of perennial and I can well believe it, though many are present only as single clumps. The result, at this time of year, is a brilliant display of colour. It is all immaculately kept, with scarcely a weed to be seen, the result no doubt of the use of weed-suppressing fabric and bark mulch on an industrial scale.

Unfortunately, however, someone has a straight-line fetish and the perennials are planted in the beds in straight lines. The effect is distressingly inartistic, suggesting a nursery stock bed or trial ground, and the use of prominent wooden edging boards round every bed does not help. The brochure states the belief that 'gardening is all about plants, not hard landscaping' - but they really need to come together with sensitivity to make a beautiful garden.

Despite this lack of artistry, Breezy Knees is a remarkable place. As a demonstration ground for what will grow well in these conditions it is superb - I know nothing like it anywhere else in this country - and I have no doubt that I shall return there quite regularly to study the collection.

The Peony and Daylily Garden

The Conifer and Grass Garden

Regrettably, the perennials are planted in straight lines throughout the garden.

I had not previously come across the attractive Lythrum salicaria 'Swirl'

Phlox 'Starfire' with a pink Veronica.

The very elegant Sanguisorba 'All Time High'.

The Breezy Knees nursery stocks a huge range of perennials, grown and displayed on raised benches, sustained intelligently by flood irrigation. I suspect I shall be acquiring a lot of plants from there.


  1. Looks like a great resource. I only regret that we have little like that on this side of the pond.

  2. Funnily enough I was reading the article on Breezy Knees only the other night, I am so far behind with my reading. It looked a fascinating nursery and I made a note of it for when I get to Yorkshire. Weird about the straight line planting maybe a degree of OCD going on

  3. Beautiful garden, I like to admire so beautiful views. I am greeting

  4. You do love "the original floral sin", magenta and with primary yellow! I can only cope with it diluted amongst others as in an impressionistic meadow or seen through a drift of blue, purple and violet.

  5. You ought to check out Sussex Prairies for "naturalistic" plantings of hardy perennials. They are spectacular and not a straight line in sight!

  6. Wow! Stunning page indeed. I love the colors in the garden.

  7. The lighter shade of dark14 February 2013 at 17:26

    Finally a garden for gardeners...Labeling is fantastic, aided by the straight lines,which make it so easy to identify which plant your looking at. The shade area is wonderful,its all so elegant. Flowers and colour every where, if your an artist, gardener, or need peace for one afternoon then go for a visit. You will not be let down. And... the cake is devine!


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