When you discover the path on the left bank it will take you up, under and through the impressive picea, passing smaller pools along the way. The planting in this area highlights the possibilities for shady damp environments in particular and in winter cyclamen can often be discovered along with small ground ivy, lung wart with its characteristic spotted leaves and the long, shapely hounds tooth fern. The situation of these plants this year has provided a contrast in form and colour to the deep green kidney shaped leaves of the asarabacca rock plants. At the end of the twists and turns, the garden beyond comes into view, and the small crescent of grass at the top of the path is left longer in the spring; purple orchids have been spotted here amongst the grass around this time.
Continuing right, the rock garden can be enjoyed along with the view out over the lake back towards the entrance and Huntingdon Elms. The rock garden comprises a number of small beds that contain a mixture of dwarf and tall conifers, such as the picea, which complement the arrival of dwarf daffodils and snowdrops in the spring and deep russet sedums in the winter. Steps can be followed between the beds downward toward the lake and here there is an enclosed waterside spot that changes with the seasons. This winter has notably seen the addition of campanula ‘blue moonlight’ flowers that cling to the bank beneath the tall conifers and alongside are dianthus as well as an assorted array of rock roses.
Continuing right along the lake towards Sir Winston Churchill, tall elephant grass is passed along with an assortment of bushy sedges. The wooden step-bridge extends across the water at this end of the lake and to the right of its entrance is a gunera manicata with its huge pronounced leaves and thick, textured stalks evoking a sense of the prehistoric. The wooden step-bridge takes you across the water to the adjacent bank, passing tall and flexible windswept grasses.
By choosing the perimeter path around the lake, you will pass the herbacious bed with its thorny white, purple tipped acanthus ‘spiniosus’. Following the path brings you to the Hawthorne lily pool where there is a sunken seating area for resting while taking in the scenery. The bed to the side of the lily pool houses tall and feathery pampas grass, lung wart and papaver. Globe artichokes in summer provide a stunning array of heavy bright purple heads that not only add to the colour of planting, but the texture also due to the display of unusual seeds.
There is an additional area with benches on the opposite bank, which is the perfect spot for listening to the waterfall and enjoying the tranquillity of the location.
The lake attracts dragonflies in the summer months as they are drawn by the wetland habitat and lay their eggs on leggy stems below the water line. The dragonflies are often seen throughout the garden during this time, adding colourful excitement to the air.
In October 2004, a Kingfisher began visiting the lake and a branch has been extended over the water near the waterfall as a perch. The visits are continuing and growing in number and projects are being planned to continue encouraging and nurturing both existing and future species of wildlife.
October additionally saw the launch of a reed-bed island to the centre of the lake. This feature is in its infancy, but was conceived in response to creating a retreat and nesting habitat for Moorehens in particular. The planting selection for the reed bed is currently being planned ready for the spring and this feature will grow and develop over the coming seasons.
The Pines Garden is a natural environment that brings variations from season to season and planting changes and additions are a continual process.