4:00 AM 11th September 2021
Breezy Knees - Yorkshire’s Secret Garden
I shudder to think how many times I have driven on the A64 just outside of York and passed Breezy Knees not noticing the signs that lead to this hidden gem.
The independently owned and family run business started in 1999 as a development of trees, hedges and shrubs. By 2006 as they started to become established work continued on the borders which is still continuing now.
The Giant Wellingtons
When popular TV gardener Monty Dom describes the garden as “a beautiful modern garden created on the grandest possible scale” I tend to agree with him.
It's one of the largest gardens in the north of England at over 20 acres and with more than 7,000 different varieties of flowers, shrubs and trees.
There is always something in bloom along the extensive herbaceous borders that form the heart of the gardens, giving a succession of flowers from May to the end of September.
In fact there is even a May, June and September garden. My visit in August coincided when the main borders were a riot of colour.
The excitement begins once you have parked in the free car park a path leads to an open wrought iron gate leading to another world entirely - one that is an oasis of calm.
The Yorkshire Fountain
The spectacular and unexpected first surprise was the White Rose Fountain which bursts into a spectacular display - there's even a seat situated on a raised platform so the visitor can admire the timed display (it appeared to come to life every 5- 10 minutes).
The next surprise was the Stonehenge display, aptly named here Stonehedge! Look out too for the giant wellingtons.
A succession of borders follows which ultimately leads to the pond and Shade Garden leading up to a lake and Arboretum.
Looking around we didn’t see even one weed, the secret seems to be plenty of bark on the borders which helps retain moisture in the sandy soil and reduces the time spent weeding.
There is a team of gardeners all working part time, shared between the nursery and gardens with the equivalent of two full timers in the gardens. They must put the hours in to get the gardens looking as vibrant and fresh.
If you are intrigued as I was, about the origin of the name - Breezy Knees.
Well, the land used to be arable farmland with the only trees being a line of Oaks near where the Yorkshire fountains are - with no effective hedges it made it very exposed. If one stood there in the middle of January then it becomes obvious how the gardens got it’s name.
Naturally, as with most attractions the visit ends with a shop where a nursery specialises in perennials; everything they sell can be seen growing in the gardens, having been tested by whatever the Yorkshire weather has thrown at them.
After all the walking around the gardens there is an opportunity to have something to drink or eat in the small cafe.
Breezy Knees it might be in January but on our summertime visit it was the Bees Knees.
Breezy Knees Gardens and Nursery, Common Lane, Warthill, York Y019 5XS
Telephone 01904 488800
Open daily Tuesday to Sunday until 30th September from 10.30am to 5.00pm. Closed Mondays.
Adults £8.00 per person
Children 3-15 years £3.50 per child