Bonsall - Cascades Gardens
w/e 02 September 2018
All of this week's pictures were
taken with a Kodak DX6490
you turn up by the Mill Pond in Cromford towards Via Gellia and
then turn right to Bonsall you'll soon come across the entrance
to Cascades Gardens (left) nestling in a surprising position
below a cliff. After paying the entrance fee you'll be able to
pick up a pre-printed guide (right) which will lead you through
the gardens and direct you to a series of numbered seats. The
guide is full of information about the trees, shrubs and plants
in various settings around each seat.
The numbered seats
are also named and the first one overlooking a feature of the
same name is called the Pond Seat. The printed guide says that
the pond (left) is planted with Gunnera, Iris, Primula and "has
two large skunk cabbage plants". The plants are well established
and little can actually be seen of the pond from the seat. The
guide goes on to inform that a mill pond, canal and mill race
were built on the site about 1800 to take water from Bonsall
Brook to a corn mill that stood on the site of the house at the
far end of the gardens. From the Pond Seat the view to the right
(above) shows the canal path and that is the way to go to the
There are two more seats (1a and 1b) along the path and the guide
says the gardens can be viewed from a higher perspective pointing
out the rockery at the foot of the cliff opposite.
Descent to the
lower level from the top of the ruined mill (right) is by means
of a flight of steps (left). The steps leads to a courtyard at
Cascades House and in an annexe, a number of information sheets
recount of the history of the house and also tell of the source
of the inspiration for the garden design. This stemmed from a
visit to Japan, time spent in a monastery and a meeting with
the Dalai Lama in India.
Re-entering the gardens from the courtyard on the way to Seat
2 (Cliff View) is Sophia's Conifer Garden which was established
in November 2015. This is actually where Seat 4 is situated but
the route through the gardens is not set in stone and you can
wander where you will. Designed to celebrate the birth of the
owners' daughter it is overlooked by a statue of the Greek god
Bacchus and contains more than 60 dwarf conifers.
As well as the cliff (to the right) the view from Seat 2 is of
"Pots of interesting Japanese conifers and plants"
that "surround the Buddha: a hint of Japaneses Zen Buddhist
raked stone gardens."
Seat 3 is in the Shade Garden where Greek god Pan is surrounded
by 100 logs but in this view looking back to Cascades House,
the rear view of the Buddha is also visible.
Across from Pan at the foot of the cliff are The Cascades but
as the guide says the water is reduced to just a trickle in the
summer (and probably even more so this year) but there is a much
better flow in the winter months, The water flows down the natural
rock face into three interconnected ponds flanked by Cryptomeria
Japonica and Garrya Eliptica trees. As I stood up from Seat 5
here I spotted goldfish in the lower pond.
After climbing up the cliff a little to the Birds Nest Seat for
a general view of the gardens we made our way to Seat 7, the
Tufa Arch and Canal Steps seat. Here the guide says that you
can sit and relax surrounded by potted plants whilst listening
to the sound of a waterfall. The Tufa Arch is over 50 years old,
the Canal Steps are to the left leading up to the Canal Path
near where we began our exploration of the gardens.
A second newly built Tufa Arch spans the stream taking water
to the waterfall and it flows in front of Seat 9 which is naturally
called the Stream View seat. More potted plants surround this
seat and are mainly Rhododendrons.
The route through the gardens is almost complete and ends by
passing through the nursery where plants are on sale but on the
way the path passes the entrance to an eighteenth century lead
mine in the cliff.
That is not the end of the guided walk though as the final Seat
10 is called Cliff Top View and can be accessed by climbing a
winding path up the cliff side. Looking down from there the nursery
is bottom right, the pond front and centre with Seat 1 just to
The pictures on this page are just a personal selection from
the many I took on our visit but for more information, there's
Gardens website plus a Facebook page and to make it a really good
day out, Matlock, Matlock Bath and Cromford as well as all the
other attractions in the Derwent Valley Heritage Corridor are
only a few minutes drive away.