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Yorkshire Gardens: Breezy Knees Gardens

If you visited this field in 1998, you would have seen a bleak area of potatoes and barley fields that stretched for miles across the horizon towards York.


You wouldn't have guessed that 20 years later, an unassuming Yorkshire couple would have managed to single-handedly transform what had been an unforgiving landscape into one of Yorkshire's most idyllic flower gardens.

The magical garden near York provides visitors with a range of magnificent and vibrant borders, sparkling fountains, a beautiful lake, immaculate lawns, trees, shrubs, amazing garden designs, along with more than 6,000 different varieties of flowers, trees and plants.

The planted garden stretches for over 20 acres (the equivalent of around 13 football pitches), with wide, easy pathways.

Former Pharmacist Colin Parker and his wife Marylen have successfully created the breathtakingly beautiful Breezy Knees Gardens at Warthill, near York. And their daughter runs the delightful café.

Where did the name come from?

The land used to be arable farmland with the only trees being a line of oaks near the fountains and no effective hedges, making it very exposed. If you stood there in the middle of January, you wouldn’t ask this question!

How many gardeners are there?

Not enough! They have a team of gardeners all working part-time, shared between the nursery and the gardens with the equivalent of 2 full-timers in the gardens (truthfully).

Do they ever water the plants?

No, except recent plantings.

How do they maintain the borders?

The secret is bark, and lots of it – this both helps retain moisture in the sandy soil and significantly reduces the time spent weeding.

Nursery

All the plants in the nursery can be found in the gardens, but not vice versa. The nursery specialises in perennials only and unfortunately, they don’t have the space to do every plant in the gardens. Prices are based on the pot size and not individually. I felt they were better quality and better value than commercial garden centres.

The pathways are wide so that Breezy Knees is accessible for wheelchairs. May, June and September gardens have been developed, so that there is always something new to see.

There’s also a pretty cottage garden, raised beds, a rock garden, double border, Euphorbia and Achillea rivers and a meadow, along with a section named the “Rogues Gallery”.

It is full of plants that traditional gardeners hate, such as Persicaria and Mint.

Other areas are just for fun and include a Stone Hedge, which is a hornbeam version of the Neolithic monument, and two enormous fibreglass wellies.

Breezy Knees is a little-known gem – even many local people have not heard of it.  Anyone who enjoys peaceful places, interesting plants and beautiful gardens will surely enjoy a visit.

Breezy Knees Gardens (Common Lane, Warthill, York YO19 5XS) are open everyday May to September 10.30am to 5pm. Dogs are not permitted (except guide dogs).

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