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Old Court Nurseries & The Picton Garden

Address : Walwyn Road
Town/City : Colwall
County : Worcestershire
Country : England
Post code : WR13 6QE
Phone : 01684 540416
Web Site :  www.autumnasters.co.uk

A family run business, since 1906, specialising in breeding and growing MICHAELMAS DAISIES (Autumn Flowering Asters). 

 worcs oldcourt2Enjoy a tour of the well known Picton Garden where over 400 varieties of Michaelmas Daisies are growing in profusion with many other late season perennials and shrubs and also browse our new online catalogue to select your favourite varieties.

Welcome to Old Court nurseries the birthplace of the modern Asters hybridised by Ernest Ballard in the early years of the twentieth century. We have been specialist growers of these wonderful autumn flowers since 1906 and are continuing to expand the range available for purchase. We are a third generation family run business and offer a friendly personal service.



Old Court Nurseries were established by Ernest Ballard in 1906. Ballard was one of the first growers to specialise in breeding Asters and he devoted over 50 years to the development of his new race of garden flowers. The Herefordshire village of Colwall became the international home for the popular Michaelmas Daisy. Several fields glowed with colour each autumn when thousands of plants came into flower.

Such was the popularity of Asters during the first 60 years of the 20th century that many other English nurseries grew Michaelmas daisies and some raised new varieties, most of which were based on those raised by Ernest Ballard.

For decades Michaelmas Daisy borders were prominent features in large gardens and the plants were also popular as cut flowers. Autumn flower shows featured displays and those at London shows of the Royal Horticultural Society were always notable.

Percy Picton continued Ernest Ballard's work after he came to manage Old Court Nurseries in 1947. Ernest Ballard died in 1952 and Percy bought the business from the Ballard family in 1956. His son, Paul, joined him in the 1960's. Paul and his wife Meriel formed the NCCPG National Collection of Autumn Flowering Asters in the 1980's. At the same time the Picton Garden was much expanded to display nearly 400 varieties of Asters. Since gaining a first class degree in Botany at the University of Reading Helen has been back at the nursery, she has now been joined by her husband Ross Barbour and together they are helping to look after what is probably the largest selection of Michaelmas Daisies in the world.


worcs oldcourt3The Picton Garden

Welcome to the home of the Plant Heritage National Collection of Autumn Flowering Asters. The garden is open from August until mid October including many days for the National Gardens Scheme.


Design ServiceCreating contemporary gardens with a traditional flavour

With 30 years of combined experience in horticulture Ross Barbour and Helen Picton have acquired a wealth of knowledge for creating and maintaining gardens of all shapes and sizes.

An in-depth plant knowledge enables us to create interest at any time of the year, and we always work with nature in mind to create a good natural balance.

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Featured Attraction

Head for The Heights this year

Head for The Heights of Abraham, the award winning Hilltop Park situated in the spectacular Derwent Valley, just 9 miles from Chatsworth on the western edge of the Peak District National Park.

This "must see" Derbyshire jewel of an attraction is accessed by state of the art enclosed cable cars located on the banks of the River Derwent next to Matlock Bath railways station and the town's public car parks. Simply purchase your cable car ticket, and then sit back to enjoy Instagram-ready views of the geologically stunning valley as you climb to the summit.
TIP: You can save money by purchasing your tickets online in advance of your visit. Go to www.heightsofabraham.com for ticket prices and availability
Once you've purchased your cable car ticket, access to all the summit attractions is free, offering a great value-day-out whatever the weather. Head off to explore 60 acres of landscaped grounds, undercover interactive exhibitions, photography gallery, multi-media show caverns, adventure playgrounds, woodland walks and trails.

You can choose to dine in the Vista restaurant with its stunning views down the valley, or enjoy a snack in the café or out on the terrace with similar breath-taking views. Picnic areas can be found throughout the grounds, and during the school holidays you'll discover extra entertainment like the traditional Punch and Judy show (with a satisfying Heights of Abraham twist) for all the family to enjoy.
TIP: Dining times can be reserved in advance. This is recommended especially during the busiest times of the year. Phone 01629 582365 to make a reservation or pre-order the popular afternoon tea package.
Most visitors are surprised to learn that the Heights is in fact the Derbyshire's oldest tourist attraction. The cable car system has carried millions of visitors to the summit over the last thirty five years, yet it remains one of the latest chapters in the fascinating story of the Heights of Abraham. The Heights first opened as a Pleasure Ground in 1780 when visitors would make the climb from the valley floor on foot to witness some of the finest views across the surrounding area. Almost two and a half centuries later you are still able to wander around the estate with its zigzag paths and pleasant woodland trails. It is easy to understand why the area proved inspirational to the Romantic movement of the period.

As long ago as Roman times, Lead deposits may have been found in the area but it took another 1000 years before Lead mining was officially recorded on site. These impressive mines were active for over 400 years and left behind a legacy of passageways and awe-inspiring caverns. Today, thanks to all that hard work you can follow in the miners' footsteps down the passageways they created, going deep underground into the Heights' famous Show Caverns. From the glow of a single miner's candle to the whole cavern being awash with colour-changing lights, the Great Masson Cavern tour is one of the talking points of a visit to this Hilltop Park. Here, where the Equator was once situated millions of years ago, you can learn all about the rocks, minerals and underground formation of the Peak District. Equally, a visit to the Great Rutland Cavern is well worthwhile. First opened to the public over 200 years ago in 1810, you can experience a day in the life of the very miners who made your trip possible.

Those of an inquisitive mind should make sure they visit The Long View exhibition to see and hear the 230 year story about why the estate has been a favourite place to visit for many generations. On the upper floor the Fossil Factory brings to life fun and interesting facts about rocks, fossils and the formation of the Peak District. Tinker's Shaft SSSI is a spectacular location with a new viewing platform, high above the Derwent Valley and near the exit from the Great Masson Cavern. Interpretative panels provide information on the importance of the site, the natural history, the geology and the labyrinth of lead mines below Tinker's Shaft... directly beneath your feet!

The Heath and Heaven Gallery is a delightful pictorial journey through the Peak District from north to south and shot from the air on a single summer's day. Next to this you will find Through the Lens, a 12 minute film of the Great Masson guided tour, ideal for those who cannot, or do not wish to go underground during their visit.

If you're heading into Derbyshire or the Peak District, don't miss the opportunity to head for the Heights this year and tick this one off your bucket list. The cable car is just the start of a fascinating, relaxing and fun day out for everyone. Keep up to date with the news by visiting the official website for opening times, special offers and details of forthcoming events: www.heightsofabraham.com

MJPL6641MJPL6890The Long View ExhibitionMJPL7135Woodland Adventure

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