Garden Gallery: Alchemy Gardens’ Staircase to Nowhere

Alchemy Garden Malvern Spring Show

Folly Builder.

Can you think of a better business card title?  I wonder if anyone in the US has that title?   Folly’s are much more common in the UK where Paul Taylor runs Alchemy Gardens– a specialist folly building company.

I’m updating this post as I just came across this new project by Alchemy Gardens.  Built for the 2013 Malvern Spring Garden Show, this staircase really caught my eye.   We have a treehouse and everytime I climb into it to look down on my garden I see some revelatory new thing.  There is nothing like changing your perspective and a circular staircase folly seems like a perfect fit for a quirky garden. Alchemy Garden Malvern Spring Show

According to Wikipedia, “In architecture, a folly is a building constructed primarily for decoration, but either suggesting by its appearance some other purpose, or merely so extravagant that it transcends the normal range of garden ornaments or other class of building to which it belongs.”

devil garden follyRight, because how else can you justify an elaborate rock cave built for the mere purpose of housing a stone devil that looks like he is emerging from the shadowy underworld?  And justify you should.  Why not?

Follys in my mind, while arguably a bit Disneyland, are the ultimate in garden escapism and personal expression.   I love a good folly, I hope someday I can find a client brave enough to request one.

moon gate by alchemy gardens

All these images are from the portfolio of  Alchemy Gardens, and many are in the permanent show gardens that they have built at their headquarters in Worcestershire, England,  where they showcase their work.


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rochelle greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.


  1. Private on May 5, 2011 at 6:19 am

    I planned a folly for under my tulip poplars. It would have an oversized throne chair, and a cauldron, and a crumbling remnant of an L wall with a fireplace. It would really anchor the “leaf and twig litter” decor. So it’s all ready for when I win the lottery. I just have to blend it with the “gymnast training squirrel playground” above it.

  2. Ann Munson on May 5, 2011 at 10:56 am

    I could look at the stone gate forever!

  3. louise on May 6, 2011 at 8:06 pm
  4. Paul Taylor on July 26, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Hope you enjoyed just a few photos of our show garden in the uk, always interested in what people make of our folly work!!!. ALL the best Paul,,,,, Alchemy Gardens.

  5. Cecilia on February 6, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    This is just absolutely beautiful. I love the idea of a staircase ending in nowhere, and the round entrance, just a dream! Thank you so much for showing this great photos.

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