We started our new Biddenham Gardeners’ Association year with an excellent turn out of members and visitors. The “My Garden” talks, which we feature every January, are always very popular and this year was no exception. Two very different gardens were described:
First up was Jan Page who lives in The Old Barns. Jan’s garden came into being in 1987. It is a small plot 40 ft x 30 ft and originally consisted of just grass and gravel. However, Jan had other plans and over the years has created a very special oasis for many exotic and unusual plants. Walls were built and we enjoyed seeing the photograph of the concrete being piped in over the roof top of the house during the wall’s construction. A most attractive brick shed was built, a pond was formed from an up-ended sewer pipe, an acid bed was made and a raised bed was constructed from stone dug out from the wall foundations. Fresh top soil was brought in to ensure that the many exotic plants were given a good start. Much of Jan’s garden is quite shady but she capitalises on this with a variety of ferns, hostas, azaleas, bamboos and other shade loving plants. In 2014 Jan dug everything out of her garden, she potted plants up and asked friends to look after them for her whilst her garden became a construction site as a new conservatory was built. The garden was replanted with the green and textured plants that Jan favours. Fatsia Japonica, Calthifolia, Asarum, and Zantedeschia to name but a few. Plants are crammed into every space giving an almost tropical feel. A sambucus has not only a rose but also a clematis growing through it. Jan is a true plants person and we were delighted that she was able to share her passion with us this evening. A small selection of photos from Jan’s presentation:
Our second speakers were Jeremy Reynolds and Helen Humphreys who live in Kings Close. Their house, built in 1908, is in the Arts and Crafts style and was designed by the well know local architect Baillie Scott. No plans of the garden, as it was originally created, exist as the Baillie Scott office was burnt down. However, with the help of some photographic evidence and much research, the current owners have incorporated the ideals of the Arts and Crafts Movement i.e. the garden being linked to the house as an extra room. This one acre garden has been lovingly restored taking into account these principles. The garden room nearest to the house is the most formal, leading on to a lawned area with a wilder less formal orchard/meadow area beyond. The front garden still has its original archways and typical of the period is a flag garden consisting of three areas with a rigid structure – in this case a low hedge around the beds – but more free flowing and informal planting within the beds. At the back of the house the garden room nearest to the house has the formality of hedging and topiary one would expect and the beds are now planted with short varieties of David Austin roses plus lavender and bulbs. Thousands of bulbs have been planted throughout the garden – tulips and alliums in the more formal areas and narcissus and fritillary in the informal orchard area. Flowers, colours and scents abound and there appears to be a purple colour theme for some of the year most notably from the alliums but also a dark purple lupin called Masterpiece which was much admired by the audience. Seats and benches have been sited in sunny spots so that this splendid garden can be fully appreciated.
A small selection of photos from Jeremy & Helen’s presentation:
What a delightful evening we all enjoyed and many thanks to Jan, Helen and Jeremy for their excellent presentations. How lucky we are in Biddenham to have such wonderful gardens and with owners and custodians who are committed to ensuring that these “special” spaces continue to develop and thrive.
Our next meeting will be on Tuesday 18th February when Joanna Baxter who is one of our members, will be talking about “The Mythology of Plants.” Joanna is an excellent speaker and we look forward to welcoming members and visitors to this meeting. Just come along to the village hall for a 7.30 pm start – you will be made very welcome.