We started our new Biddenham Gardeners’ Association year with an excellent turn out of members and visitors, on Zoom. The “My Garden” talks which we feature every January are always popular and this year was no exception. We were treated to presentations on two stunning gardens in the heart of the village. Marihelen and John’s garden on Main Road and Heather and Peter’s garden on Biddenham Turn.
First up was Marihelen who told us that she and John had had no gardening experience before they came to Biddenham in 2006 although when they were first married they had owned a farm and had grown and sold soft fruit. On moving to their present house they inherited a well stocked and once much loved but subsequently neglected garden. A trellis cut the garden in half and tall pine trees shaded the garden on three sides. There was an old greenhouse and industrial paving surrounded the pool. The garden was generally dark and damp, pine tree debris covered large areas and perennials and ground cover plants had taken over. Fortunately a neighbour, new to the house next door to them, had a line of fir trees cut down so that the light came streaming in. Marihelen by showing photos of the transformation. A beech hedge has been planted, a pond constructed, a wild garden and a wet garden created, roses planted, pots and hanging baskets put in place. The garden now has an abundance of soft fruit, roses, dahlias, tulips and even a foxglove tree. It is clear that John is an enthusiastic designer and builder and his handiwork is seen everywhere in the brick built raised beds, planters and seats. I particularly liked the twelve squared raised herb garden, where all the herbs looked in superb condition. Breaking up the paved area with stones and pots was also a good idea. The garden is now a haven for wildlife and it was lovely to see the video footage of the birds enjoying a bath in the pond. What a fabulous garden and many thanks to Marihelen for sharing her gardening journey with us. Following this presentation there was much discussion about the midwife toads which are in plentiful supply in Biddenham. Some photo slides from Marihelen’s talk:
We were then treated to another delightful garden presented by Heather. Peter and Heather moved to Biddenham Turn in 1990 and almost didn’t buy the house as they felt there was so much work to be done. However, when they looked out of the window on to the back garden they were won over as they could see the potential for creating something lovely in the half acre plot.
The garden is made up of river bed gravel and the soil is neutral. Random trees and shrubs had been allowed to self seed. The lawn, like most lawns in the large gardens in Biddenham had originally, when the house was built in the 1920s, been a tennis court so the ground was well and truly compacted. In the 1960s the garden had been redesigned and, in the fashion of that time, planted with conifers which, after nearly forty years were coming to the end of their lives. So Heather and Peter set about improving the lawn, removing some trees, constructing a pergola and archway in the middle of the garden and planting, at the last count, seventy seven roses. Following a visit to Chelsea they also treated themselves to a new green house. When Heather’s father visited from New Zealand in 1993 he wanted to plant a tree. A mulberry was chosen – it is now huge and attracts the parakeets. Like Marihelen and John’s garden there are now vegetables and soft fruit and an abundance of flowers and shrubs. Not forgetting the phormiums by the front gates in a nod to New Zealand. The garden has been opened in the past to raise money for the Red Cross. Now that the kitchen has been extended Heather and Peter can enjoy the view to the west and Heather showed us some stunning sunset photos Final GARDEN PRESENTATION
The enthusiasm of Marihelen and Heather shone through as they shared their garden experiences recounting the failures as well as the successes – like all of us who garden! Both couples have delightful gardens and we really appreciated the time and effort that they had given in order that we could enjoy two excellent presentations. Many thanks to you both.
We invite you to join us on Tuesday 15th February, on Zoom, for Lucy Hartley’s Part 3 of “Designing a Border from Scratch”. Details can be found on our website. As usual this meeting will be open to all members and visitors. For our March meeting we hope, all things being well, to be back in action in the Village Hall.
New members and visitors are always welcome. For more information contact:
Linda Truscott on 01234 270747