My Garden – 2017

There was a good turnout in January for our first meeting of the year. Members enjoy looking at fellow members’ gardens and hearing about their horticultural challenges and successes. Two near neighbours who both live in Biddenham village had volunteered to share their gardens with us. Their houses were built in the early 60s and have plots of a good size being in the region of just over 100 feet long and 60 -70 feet wide. The second garden has the addition of a further plot of land running at right angles to the main plot adding another 30 feet to the length of the garden and being 100 feet across …

First up was Paula Church who moved into her house in January 2013. The garden had trees and shrubs which provided some colour but Paula wanted a greater variety of plants to give colour all year round. The patio in the back garden was very small with a retaining wall which appeared to serve no useful purpose and the front garden was dominated by large conifers (very much in fashion when the house was built). The conifers had to go – many of us have been there! Bare root hornbeam whips were planted in their place, interspersed with rowan trees. A willow tree was also planted, which proved to be a mistake and subsequently had to be removed. At a later stage the drive way was replaced and the new drive really sets off the plants, especially the lollipop privets. The hornbeams are doing a good job in masking the boundary fence and the whole front planting scheme provides a coherent and welcoming entrance to the house.

Paula turned her attention to the back garden – the house was extended, the patio and dwarf retaining wall removed and the garden was a mess – many of us have been there! But what a joy when you have a new patio big enough for eating outside; when you can plant trees and shrubs for all year colour – tamarisk, silver birch, cotinus, laburnum, Mexican orange blossom, witch hazel, viburnum, skimmia. What a joy when you take out an old elaeagnus and discover that you have a small hitherto undiscovered pond. What a joy when you have enough space to plant 6,000 tulip bulbs (yes I did check the quantity!). What a disappointment when you find that slugs have annihilated your treasured dahlias; but what a joy when you discover that they won’t go past copper tape if you put it round the top of your pots before potting them up. Paula’s love of her garden and gardening shone through. A very large willow tree in her neighbour’s garden enables her to enjoy, not only her own garden, but the “borrowed” landscape. More photos from Paula’s garden …

Paula’s willow tree linked us to Paula’s near neighbour Jeremy Arthern who sees the same tree from his garden. Jeremy was our second speaker for the evening.
Originally Jeremy’s garden was a football pitch enjoyed by his children but then, twenty five years ago, the back and front gardens were landscaped by a professional landscape designer. The front garden has a geometric, straight lined feel with a square pattern of blocks topped with slate which provide lovely reflections when it rains. The garden is softened by fluid planting of annuals and perennials – alliums, foxgloves, cosmos, rudbeckia which change with the seasons and differ each year. Stipa gigantea looks stunning when it is back lit by the evening sun.

In contrast to the quite formal front garden, the back garden was designed to show more natural curves to set off an abundance of roses, clematis, camellias, irises, self sown poppies and bulbs. The lawns are curved and shaped to flow quite naturally into a pond area with a bog garden, waterfall and rockery. Various statues complement the planting in this garden and snowdrops, daffodils and bluebells provide a continuous undergrowth of colour throughout the seasons in the orchard area. A trellis decked with roses and other climbers divides the ornamental garden from the vegetable garden. The additional plot of land at the end of the garden lends itself to the cultivation of vegetables, for which Jeremy is well known in Biddenham. A green house, and fruit cage extend the variety of edible plants and fruits grown in this very productive garden. More photos from Jeremy’s garden …

Both gardens have challenges but the people who tend them have found ways round. The soil in this area of Biddenham is based on river gravel and neutral so the camellias which do so well in Jeremy’s garden have to be planted in ericaceous compost. Paula has solved her slug problem without resorting to chemicals. We saw, in both presentations, the importance of a variety of plants for all-year colour and structure, especially the importance of verticals as in Paula’s trees and Jeremy’s trellises – many thanks to them both for sharing their gardens with us.

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday 21st February when Jane Markham will talk about Warden Abbey Vineyard.
Linda Truscott

New members are always welcome.
For more information contact Linda Truscott on 01234 270747

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