Talking Japanese with unveiling of historic gardens

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A PAINSTAKING restoration of Japanese-style gardens that date back almost a century at Bestwood Country Park has been completed.

The historic and picturesque spot in the tourist attraction was planted when the park was the country estate of the Duke Of St Albans.

But the gardens became overgrown and were left to fall into disrepair as a generation forgot they were there.

Now, after a £30,000 project to bring them back to life, visitors will be able to walk around the gardens for the first time in decades after an official unveiling.

Coun Chris Barnfather (Con), of Notts County Council, who attended the opening, said: “What a marvellous place to have a Sunday-afternoon stroll.

“The gardens have been beautifully restored and I’m sure over the next few years will make it on to people’s must visit lists within the county.”

The Japanese Gardens date back to Victorian times and have been revived thanks to financial support under the county council’s Local Improvement Scheme (LIS).

Work has been carried out by conservation and archaeology experts and has included an archaeological dig, a landscape survey, ground clearance and the restoration of stone paths.

Particular care has been taken to keep intact the plants, shrubs and trees at the gardens as they are original and date from the turn of the century.

The LIS funding also provided two interpretation boards detailing the history of the gardens and a map of Bestwood Country Park.

A number of elements most commonly associated with Japanese Gardens are featured in Bestwood, including stepping stones, rocks and stone arrangements, and enclosures such as a hedge or fence offer traditional character. Original bamboo and fern shrubs are also featured throughout the gardens.

Gill Costello, of the Friends of Bestwood Country Park group, said the gardens were a wonderful asset and she hoped in time they would attract visitors from across the county and beyond.

The Friends play a key part in preserving the park, ranging from surveying wildlife to reporting anti-social behaviour and vandalism.

OUR PHOTO shows Coun Carol Pepper (second right), vice-chairman of the county council, with a plaque to mark the re-opening of the gardens. Also pictured (from left) are Conservative county councillors Richard Butler and Chris Barnfather, Carole Taylor, of the Friends of Bestwood Park, and Juliet Sunderland, project officer — DISPIC NHUD11-2288-2.