Shropshire Star

In pictures: A look round the manor garden full of quirky topiary that opens for charity next month

A luxurious country garden full of quirky topiary is opening up for charity next month.


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Longden Manor, near Pontesbury, will be throwing open their garden gates as part of the National Garden Open Scheme in May.

The programme gives visitors across the country unique access to more than 500 private gardens in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands.

Since its launch in the early 1900s, more than £70 million has been donated to nursing and mental health charities thanks to the scheme - with a record £3.4m donated in 2023.

Longden Manor gardens
Some of the incredible gardens of Longden Manor, which will open next month for charity

In the 19th century, there was once an enormous park of some 250 acres surrounding Longden Manor. Today, much of it provides the setting for the garden which has been lovingly created over 30 years by the owner, Karen Lovegrove, and her gardener, Stuart Jones.

Speaking modestly about her stunning grounds, Mrs Lovegrove - an organic dairy farmer - said she prefers a lived-in look.

The family run an organic dairy farm

She said: "I've got boys kicking footballs around, there's a fair amount of wildlife around. I don't like anything looking too immaculate. I like things looking well, not neat and tidy, but healthy."

Karen Lovegrove has many interesting pieces of topiary

Scattered throughout the historic woodlands and fine trees, the pair have created a whimsical garden that includes a wide selection of humorous topiary, including a spider, giraffe, pelican, otter, kingfisher, shark, gorilla and a goose.

A topiary gorilla

"My mother used to do quite a lot of topiary," Mrs Lovegrove explained. "And there was a peacock here when I moved in around 30 years ago.

One of many interesting pieces of topiary

"But Stuart is the total talent. He has serious vision, he can see when something is going to become a kangaroo - and then if we wind up with a kangaroo we'll have something that looks like Ayers Rock.

"I can't remember how it started, I think something looked a little like a flamingo."

Karen Lovegrove is getting ready to open for the National Garden Scheme

The garden will be open for visitors on Sunday, May 12 and entry is £5. Tea and cake will also be available to purchase, with all proceeds going to charity. One of the bakers, Mrs Lovegrove said, is "Prue Leath trained".

Due to livestock on the property, dogs are not permitted. Further information and pre-booking are available online at: