The January meeting of the Gardeners’ Association, when members speak about their own gardens, is always very well attended. This year was no exception, over fifty people came to hear Roz Randall and Joanna Baxter present their gardens. There were similarities in that both Roz and Joanna and their husbands had taken on neglected gardens which they then set about re-designing, drawing up plans, laying out hard landscaping and planting so that the gardens reflected their original ideas and philosophy. Both couples had undertaken the installation and continued maintenance themselves. Both gardens now consist of a series of different “rooms” with a different feel to each area. However, as we listened to the speakers and saw their slides we could see that the gardens were very different – each fascinating in its own way …
First up was Roz. She and her husband had lived in their house on Biddenham Turn for seven years before they turned their attention in 2001 to their 50 x 30 metre garden with its narrow patio and unloved lawn. The soil is clay and the garden falls away from the house with a difference of 8 feet in depth from one end to the other. Roz decided that to undertake a proper job on the garden she would enrol on a one year, one day a week, Garden Design Course at Shuttleworth College. Roz took us through the Concept for her garden in terms of site appraisal, budget, vision and the mood she and her husband wished to create; the Design, including site survey, plan of the existing garden and final design for the new garden and Implementation in terms of marking out, hard landscaping and planting. Everything was very carefully and systematically thought through.
Roz and her husband wanted to create a traditional English Country Garden as they felt that this would suit their style of house. The garden was planned to be divided into rooms with hedging, woodland area, spring border and summer border. Many of the mature trees were retained and some areas were left intact so that wildlife would be undisturbed. Some crazy paving was kept, but softened with planting. The patio area was widened, the shed was re-sited and re-painted and the defunct tree house was made into compost bins. In the woodland area a trio of silver birch were planted together with acers. An obelisk was installed with outside help and a chain saw artist was commissioned to create a bird sculpture from one of the trees. Four hundred bare root box trees were planted in four triangles inter-planted with hebes to give structure to the garden and two areas of topiary squares were unified by similar planting. Yews were used to divide the rooms and were useful for providing focal points and both vertical and horizontal elements. A central avenue leads down from the house and although the garden has quite formal views, at the end of the garden is a more natural woodland area, A vegetable patch was started two years ago in raised beds, but in a fairly shady part of the garden so not all vegetables can be grown there, but potatoes, salad leaves and courgettes do well. Summer flowering perennials and shrubs provide colour and near the house herbs grow in a sunny position.
Click here for photos’s of Roz’s garden
Our attention then turned to our second speaker Joanna, who together with her husband, took on a neglected garden in Bromham Road in 1995. Joanna’s husband designed the garden and drew up the plans and Joanna provided the horticultural input. The garden is 120 feet by 50 feet on clay and with the challenge of a large willow tree. The garden consisted of a large central lawn and a south facing aspect with very little shade. Joanna said that her philosophy for the garden was that it should provide an aesthetic experience with areas of tranquility and that the working area should be separated from the pleasure area. The garden that has been created has very few straight lines, the exception being the rose garden – now the acer garden. The garden is wildlife friendly, there is all year round interest, areas shaded by pergolas, trellis for climbers – roses and clematis and statuary and sculptures, many of which were brought in from Europe and beyond. The garden has mains electricity throughout so that the lit up garden takes on a different form at night. The garden features many patio areas for sitting and reflecting. There is a pond patio with two entrances via rose arches and a larger pond area with white waterlilies and surrounded by iris. Acers, shrubs and perennials provide privacy. This garden is clearly a garden for the senses with irises, roses, clematis and peonies providing vibrant colour and fragrance and the wall fountain with the light above providing sounds and contrasts. Joanna explained that her passion is the Japanese acer – she now has 93 varieties growing in the ground or in pots and loves them for their differing colours and forms. Acers abound not only in the back garden, but also in the front.
Click here for photo’s of Joanna’s garden
It was such a pleasure to listen to two people who were clearly passionate about their gardens, committed to wildlife and prepared to maintain the beautiful gardens they had created. Their gardens were very different but they both believed that having a design and plan was essential and that the garden is “never finished”.
Next month on Tuesday 16th February Jim Buttress will be taking us on a “Tour of Britain in Bloom” do join us to hear this really excellent speaker.
New members are always welcome. For more information about the Association contact: