Our Gardens

The Gardeners’ programme for 2021 began on 19 January with two members talking about their own gardens. Once again Zoom came to the rescue and the monthly programme will continue to be presented in this way for the foreseeable future. The speakers at this first meeting were Linda whose garden is in Ison Close and Josie with a garden in Darlow Drive. One of the pleasures of having two speakers with a common topic is the contrast it  provides in the size and nature of the gardens and differences in the style of presentation …

Linda entitled her talk “My Garden, The ups and downs.

There are the downs of disappointment and damage when things fail to grow or when  animals and pests or the weather wreak havoc amongst the things that do grow and  there are many sources of joy and contentment. Linda took a somewhat pessimistic view that the downs outweighed the ups by about 75% to 25% but the beauty of her garden displayed in her illustrations rather belied this.

Linda began by setting out what she wants from a garden and the structure of her talk demonstrated how she has achieved this. The prime consideration is lots of colour with flowers for picking and arrangement and a combination of old friends that reappear every year and new and special plants that have caught her eye at flower shows or other gardens. She also wants her garden to be a place of memories, somewhere to relax and a haven for wildlife.  To this end she gardens almost  completely organically. 

Linda moved to her garden in 1982 and after initial reshaping with curved beds and a snaking gravel path and the addition of  a kidney-shaped pond, designed and dug by her young son,  the garden  luxuriates in its maturity.  A very significant addition was building a conservatory and Linda’s pictures showed that this is a place of vivid colour and great beauty with a wide variey of container plants including a good many geraniums.  The major additions in the garden itself have been a plant house with a new shed behind it. The plant house was bought in memory of Linda’s father and it is notable not just for its superb quality but as the first example of a range of plant houses made by Gabriel Ash and used widely as  a marketing tool before coming to Linda. The plant house and the shed also served as an example of the downs of gardening when a huge tree from a neighbour’s garden fell down over them in a gale.  The shed needed some repair but the plant house survived unscathed.

The beauty and interest of the garden was generously demonstrated with many lovely photos of the plants and colour combination showing the all-year round interest that Linda has achieved;  from hundreds of snow drops, a fine display of tulips grown as annuals in pots, many shrubs, perennial flowers for cutting and the plants under cover in the conservatory and greenhouse. Some photos from Linda’s talk:


Josie began her talk by putting her garden in it’s Darlow Drive setting.

She used a historic plan to show how the area had been developed behind Biddenham Turn and photos showing how trees in the road and in neighbours’ gardens added a great deal to the interest of the outlook beyond her own garden (an important point in garden design).  Josie moved to Darlow Drive in 1996 and the garden has been developed alongside a busy working life and the growth of a family with three children who are now young adults, yet to fly the nest. 

The rear  garden is considerably bigger than Linda’s, being 120 feet long by 55 feet wide. It faces South-East which means that one side is considerably more shaded than the other and this, of course, has a bearing on what can be grown where. The soil, in common with other gardens in this part of Biddenham is free-draining river gravel with a neutral Ph. This means that it is possible  to grow  some acid loving plants although they need to be planted in ericaceous compost. Because of this Josie has been able to grow a lovely camelia and a pieris.  Part of  Darlow Drive before it’s development was an orchard and  survivors from this time are two substantial apple trees which provide a centre of interest and a good crop of lovely but unidentified fruit. An attractive addition planted some twenty years ago  is a double flowering cherry tree. Apart from this the centre of the garden is mainly lawn with planting round the sides. These side beds are mainly planted with shrubs and Josie has included a number of roses  which add  colourful summer interest. She has also found that heather grows well in her soil. Against the house there is a magnificent wisteria which grows around the side of the house on an arbour  which creates a welcome canopy in hot weather. Before her time the garden was owned by a Biddenham Show award–winning vegetable gardener. Josie inherited several vegetable beds but, without the time to maintain them, they have been grassed over.  Josie is now moving into vegetable gardening with containers on the patio though her family have had enough of courgettes this past year! She recently acquired an allotment in Queens’s Park and, with the advice of other allotment owners, has started overcoming its overgrown state by spreading a good layer of manure  over cardboard laid on the weeds.

The front garden  has a large semi-circular lawn edged with ornamental bricks  and a wide variety of shrubs on either side. Josie illustrated these with a number of photographs and notable amongst them is a superb tall white lilac, a variegated euonymus, a camelia, a viburnum tinus variegatum and an edging on one side of box.
Some photos from Josie’s talk:

Jeremy Arthern

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