Part of the Ilkeston Cam "Days Out" Series

Bonsall - Cascades Gardens
w/e 02 September 2018
All of this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490

If 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.

Canal Path

pond ViewThe 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 next seat.
Higher Perspective

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.
StepsRuined MillDescent 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.
Conifer Garden

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.
Seat 7

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.
Stream View

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.
Old Lead Mine

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.
Cliff Top View

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 left.

The pictures on this page are just a personal selection from the many I took on our visit but for more information, there's the Cascades 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.

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