I worked at Reaseheath College for 18 years. During that time, the grounds were a constant pleasure for me (and many others), and a credit to the staff and students who looked after them. Sadly many plants have been lost through disease and extensive building. This page records the history of the grounds. The page is still under development, and I hope to add photos and more information when time permits.
The Department of Horticulture prepared a garden guide, which was written in the 1970’s, after the college celebrated its 50th anniversary. I’ve decided to start by reproducing it below:
Old postcard of walled garden
The Role of the Gardens
The College gardens and recreation areas cover some 12 hectares and are an essential part of the teaching facilities of the department of horticulture. The gardens have considerable amenity value and are regularly visited by horticultural societies other interested groups.
Each week throughout the academic year over four hundred students attend the College to gain experience in all aspects of horticu1ture and study for qualifications to further their careers.
Students travel from all parts of Cheshire and also from other counties to take advantage of the wide range of courses offered by the department. A section of the department is specially devoted to training of florists and these students often use some of the plants and flowers grown at Reaseheath.
Tour of the Garden
From the front of Reaseheath Hall can be seen fine specimens of BLUE CEDAR (Cedrus atlantica glauca). These are said to have been planted to commemorate a marriage in the Cotton-Jodrell family. Unfortunately, in recent years these trees have fallen victim to severe gale damage.
A mature WHITEBEAM (Sorbus aria) is also to be seen on the extreme left of the group of trees and this normally gives a splendid show of tints in autumn.
A fine young specimen of the BIRCH-BARKED CHERRY (Prunus serrula tibetica) can be seen on the area between the two main paths. This unusual species was planted in 1971 to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Reaseheath. Other interesting plants in this area are the TULIP TREE (Liriodendron tulipifera) a member of the magnolia family which provides golden autumn colour and KATSURA TREE (Cercidohyllum japonicun) a riot of colour in October.
Returning to the walls of the building, a number of interesting shrubs and climbers will be noticed. Among these the thornless rose DROUHIN on the west side of the building is of interest, as is the MOUNTAIN CLEMATIS (Clematis montana) which can be seen with its pink flowered companion Clematis montana rubens which has climbed to the top of its drainpipe support.
From the west side of the building, a lawn sweeps down to the lake and this view is flanked on the one side by one nature beech and on the other by the heather garden.
The heather garden has been developed from what was, until fairly recently, a derelict part strewn with brambles and common laurel, in which were many stumps of large beech trees which used to dominate this part of the garden. In 1963 these stumps were removed, and the present plantings were established.
This plant, from S. Brazil, is the largest of any herbaceous plant hardy in the British Isles.
Moving from this area towards the woodland garden you will notice a large specimen of the BEECH (Fagus sylvatica laciniata).
The woodland garden is a recent development in the ornamental garden and in this sheltered environment will be found a range of PRIMULAS, MECONOPSIS, small shrubs, ground cover and plants. The stone bridge was erected by garden staff during the winter of 1968/69 and partially rebuilt by students in 1986.
Passing from the woodland garden, you re-emerge in that part of the garden surrounding Windsor Hall. In this area can be seen a collection of conifers. These trees were planted in 1966 and you will notice the variation in vigour. One of the most vigorous is Cupressocyparis x Leylandii, a bi—generic hybrid between Chamaecyparis Nootkatensis and Cupressus Macrocarpa, both of which are represented. The hybrid is an excellent plant for a quick growing evergreen screen. Near the conifers are trees BIRCH (Betula utilis) and PINK HORSE CHESTNUT (Aesculus x Carnea Briotii) which were also planted in 1971 to commemorate the golden Jubilee of the College.
The small LEBANON CEDAR on the lawn in front of the Hostel building was planted by the Duke of Windsor (then Prince of Wales) when he officially 0pened the building in 1925.
On the other side of the path is the spring garden with early flowering bulbs and a range of ground cover plants. Here also are natural order beds which are used to show the relationship between similar genera within families. The classification of plants is based upon the floral structure of the plants the basis of the Linnaean system of plant identification.
Recent additions in this area are the polythene tunnels, one of which is double-skinned for insulation and houses the fogging unit – a modern system of plant propagation, there are two rokolene structures which provide safe shelter for the newly propagated plants. These houses lead to a large area where the containerised plants grow to point of sale.
Small plots of fruit demonstrate different techniques of pruning and training and a wide range of cultivars is represented. Some beds are devoted to the propagation of fruit tree root stocks.
To the north of the brick built service block is a structure which is used for practical instruction in wet weather.
The glasshouse unit was largely rebuilt in 1971. The modern metal houses are equipped with automatic ventilation and the heating is by a high speed water system with oil fired sectional boilers. The environmental control is now effected by use of a computer housed in the horticultural office.
In the houses will be seen a wide of plants and growing methods. Wide use is made of automatic and semi—automatic techniques of growing.
Details of courses, Open Days and other information can be obtained from the Department Office, near the Glasshouses.
More links to the history of Reaseheath
Andrew Lamberton’s wonderful history of the college and the area.
A lovely photo of staff and students in 1935.
The souvenir programme of the garden party held at the Cheshire School of Agriculture, on 10th June, 1953, to celebrate the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
A late 20th century prospectus.
The Reaseheath Outdoor Education Centre run by a very enthusiastic Simon Young was one of the first centres of its kind.
Details of horrible accident when a girl was due to meet her boyfriend at Reaseheath.
The country’s first ever dairy college, which later moved to Reaseheath.
Details of an archaeological excavation of the Roman road which passes through Reaseheath.