A Visit to Breezy Knees Gardens

Described by Monty Don as "a beautiful modern garden created on the grandest possible scale",  Breezy Knees is situated on the eastern outskirts of York, England. I was thrilled when my friend Jill suggested we visit last month while I was staying with her  – but have to say I think good old Monty undersold these remarkable gardens.

Anticipation builds as you stroll towards the main garden gate. This path is known as the Rabbit Path due to the pesky visitors

In true British fashion there is a cafe at the gardens entrance to make sure you are sufficiently fortified with tea and homemade cake before setting off to explore. From there, visitors stroll down a wide path flanked by exuberant, colorful borders and expansive meadows to reach the ornate entrance gate.

Love the way the path suddenly narrows to take you through the custom gate. The sense of tension this creates is a clever design tactic

Once through the gate I felt like Alice in Wonderland and hardly knew which of the many "rabbit holes" to go down first. Thankfully there was a map to help keep my enthusiasm on track. The pathways were far more than a route between the many garden rooms, however. They were display gardens in their own right and offered tantalizing glimpses through fences and around corners.

This entire fence was festooned with clematis, yet the portals through the rails allowed visitors to peek into the adjacent garden rooms.

It was so tempting to get side-tracked… Below are just two of my favorite areas – but we spent several hours here exploring the entire gardens! No matter what time of year you visit you won't be disappointed. Even the "Peony and Daylily Garden", planned to peak in June, was delightful months later thanks to careful plant selection and design details.

September Garden

Even in mid-August this garden was truly stunning, consisting of a rainbow of color-themed borders.

Golden foliage and flowers transition to shades of apricot with some deeper tones for contrast. A careful succession of bloom times ensures this will always be a show-stopper in late summer

Yet far from being just a collection of flowers in shades of gold or indigo, the variety of textures and forms made this a thoughtful design where visitors could get plenty of ideas for attractive late season pairings.

The flower shapes and form are as important as color. The tall Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium spp.) contrasting with the spikes of a Persicaria in the foreground and flat clusters of an autumn blooming sedum.

Raised Beds Garden

While not all the gardens are wheelchair accessible, the Raised Bed garden offers ideas with its wide paths. Although elevated, the gazebo can be reached via a ramp on two sides rather than the steps

Anchored by a gazebo, the capped Yorkshire stone walls corralled the overflowing perennials in their late season abundance. Repetition of colors and plants gave a sense of cohesion without being too formal.

Most plants are well labelled – always helpful!

Rabbits in Residence…

Although these final images were only taken on my cell phone I would be remiss in leaving them out as they portray the fun-loving, whimsical side of the gardens. Being someone who firmly believes in never taking myself – or my gardens too seriously, I loved these! The entrance path is also known as the Rabbit Path. Here are two signs that explain why!

Rogues Gallery…

…or don't say we didn't warn you!

So you want history?


And finally – the Giant Wellies

Because why not?

Join me on my next visit

I was so enchanted by Breezy Knees that I am planning on including it on our tour to England next June. We hope to publish the final itinerary by the end of this month (we're just finishing up the last few details). Be sure to let me know if you are interested in being notified when registration opens as this tour will be limited to just 20 guests and we anticipate it will fill fast. You can do that here if you haven't already:

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