There are now well over 3,000 shrubs and trees. Lots of them are of bonsai style, in scale with the models; but aficionados rightly point out that they are not strictly “bonsai”, but skilfully trimmed and gradually reshaped standard garden plants.
Bekonscot is a riot of colour during the spring and summer; our little towns framed by thousands of bedding and herbaceous plants. Of course to a miniature person these would be of vast proportions – but sometimes it’s just rather nice to enjoy a bright mass of colour than worry about the scale.
An immaculate stretch of lawn runs the whole length of the village, which was originally part of the meadow from which Bekonscot was created. It is known as ‘Broadwalk Lawn’, because when Mr Callingham first built Bekonscot, he would walk through the village twice daily on his way to the railway station and back.
Several years ago a maze was introduced using the honeysuckle Baggesen’s Gold (Lonicer Nitida). The curator at Hampton Court kindly sent an outline of their maze, and this was used to create a copy in miniature for Bekonscot, which is situated near the small village of Hanton. We have therefore called our maze ‘Hanton Court Maze’.
We’re often asked how we keep the miniature plants trimmed. Honestly? It’s a labour of love. With two full time gardeners, plus occasional part-time helpers, they trim the plants with secateurs into miniature shapes and mow the grass with full-sized mowers. Some of the farms have large areas of fields separated by metal fencing – each piece has to be removed and replaced each week to cut the grass. That’s why some of the newer models (for small areas of grass with lots of people on them) have a little bit of synthetic grass; it saves our aged models from constant damage.
Watering is no longer a problem for us. We’ve installed a network of pop-up sprinklers (you’ll see them hidden on the top of camouflaged pipes sticking up out of a few bushes) which water the gardens in the very early hours of the morning when required, using the water stored in the "Main Lake". On a warm summer morning, the resulting hazy mist in the sunrise is quite magical.
Those wires suspended across the ponds, people always wonder about those. They’re not for boats instead they dissuade the herons from coming in and eating our nice whales (well, Koi carp, but you try telling that to a man 5 inches high). It doesn’t seem to upset the ducks – we have a pair who regularly nest each spring on the Pier Island at Bekonscot Town.
If you see any of the gardening team on your visit and you’d like to know more about the plants that they care for, then do go and ask them.