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Chinese Treasure

People visiting Westbury White Horse pass something half a mile away that is perhaps even more unexpected than that landmark - a garden planted according to Chinese principles and including many of the plants that you would find in that country, and with a number of Chinese buildings so convincing it is difficult to believe that some started life as scaffolding planks.

This is Beggars Knoll, the destination of the club's evening visit in July, and only about half a mile from the monument. On successive weeks two parties of members (because more people wanted to visit than the garden could accommodate in one go) received a warm welcome from Colin and Penny, the owners and creators of the garden, and conducted tours of the garden. Followed by tea and cake.

Carved out of the steep escarpment of Salisbury Plain the garden has an ancient beechwood as backdrop. Its Chinese 'rooms' are separated by walls, hedges and gateways including a moongate and a lot of vividly painted dragons. Collections of Chinese viburnums and podocarps, and a bamboo garden with its own pavilion. And for veg gardeners the potager was a lesson in what can be achieved, in terms of artistry and productivity.

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