I’ve been out in the garden all day again today, and thought I’d write some more about it. When we moved in here over 20 years ago, the garden was completely overgrown. There had been a huge veg plot that covered virtually the entire garden area (about 25 x 70ft), but hadn’t been touched for about five years. We didn’t even realise there was a pond till we’d been there about two months. So we had the rare opportunity of being able to design a big garden from scratch – after clearing the weeds, the only things we kept were a couple of pear trees and a huge flowering cherry. After buying some turf, we were broke, and so grew virtually everything else from seed. Relatives and friends gave or bought us plants, and gradually the garden stopped being just a meandering lawn with flower beds and grew into three dimensions.
Now, looking around the garden, so many of the plants bring back happy memories. The pink camellia, now twice my size, was a birthday present from my in-laws when we first moved in.They also gave us the lily of the valley that’s just coming into flower under the cherry. When I left working in retail to move into horticulture, my friends at work bought me plants to remember them by – kerria, spiraea, weigela and a yew. And my boss in horticulture passed onto me the huge white climbing rose that’s now over 30 feet high in the cherry (I think it’s Rosa mulliganii), the dogwood with its peach stems and leaves, and the ornamental quince Chaenomeles ‘Apple Blossom’ that looks just like its namesake at the moment with its white and pink flowers.
We never wanted a ‘manicured’ garden, but wanted an impression of lush abandon – not easy seeing as we garden on very sandy soil (we’re only about a mile from the sea) that dries to dust in the summer. But looking around now, the plants that suited our climate have settled in and flourished, and seed themselves around quite happily. Usually by mid summer, there’s no spare soil left for any weeds to get a hold (other than the dreaded horsetail and bindweed, which come up through anything).
We did the garden up before the house, and, in fact, we’ve always preferred it to the house as well. On a quiet, golden evening like this, full of blossom and with birds singing their evening chorus, it’s pretty close to my idea of paradise. Particularly with Tilly close by.