A tale of two gardens

I have been lucky enough in my life to be able to create a number of ‘Gardens’ for my self, my family and friends. It has always given me an amazing creative space in which to play and learn.

Contemplating structure based on existing hard landscaping

I have come to believe that you may design ONE WHOLE garden but over time things change. Magical spaces emerge sometimes by complete surprise! Each in its own way continues to evolve maybe with by design based on need and the feel of how it just is.  The plants we grow to love (or maybe hate!) have a say in this too …. 

It seems right that a garden can be seen as a collection of different rooms as much as a home may have different areas we call rooms.  As in our homes, each ‘room’ will have its own identity and feel different, sensually and energetically.  The amazing diversity of plants creates a landscape of ever changing colours. These can affect our moods just as much as the furniture and accessories with which we fill our homes.  For me my garden is an integral part of my living space .. and often my oasis.

Our Lymm Garden

When you are lucky enough to have a garden for 45 years you really get to know it well. 

Hostas and Hardy Geraniums love shade

We  created our own rich compost and cared for the soil until we could grow anything in it’s rich well drained loam. I was even able to create a herb garden which catered for the needs of many different herbs .. those from dry Mediterranean climates to moisture retaining soils secreted in shady areas. I concluded after a few years that so many herbs are simply highly bred to create most of our garden plants that we notice in colourful rows in garden centres. 

A space for all to play

I knew what I wanted in my garden from early years but that changed in 1998 when we created an orchard and soft fruit area as well as space enough to grow all the veggies we needed. That as well as magnificent characterful borders of flower gardens and an intensely scented bed of roses.

However my garden is never ‘tidy’ .. never manicured to within an inch of its life. It was a working garden and I loved it.  It provided colour all year as well as homes and food for insects and birds. It was a space to play and entertain but also to be still. I am thankful for those years and that learning ….

MOVING ON:  A Fresh Start in Northwich

Moving to a new house, in this case downsizing, always produces challenges. But when you are a gardener .. someone who has a deep connection with plants, particularly herbs,  moving to a newish build needed a different vision. To be able to see the potential in a space where the back garden was ‘ok’ but where the hard landscaping was very unstable,  was beyond the vision of the rest of my family. 

 We had to take the unstable terracing and landscaping back to basics, removing some trees which were destabilising the slope.  But what emerged, as Paul Conreen and his team from Warrington Builders worked their magic, was a totally new canvas in which I could play … 

When you start from scratch, no matter how much topsoil, grit and compost you add, you cannot achieve the quality of loamy soil that I had to work with in Lymm. I created areas with more acidic soil .. ericaceous areas suitable for growing Camelias, Azaleas, Maples, Blueberries and Conifers but also more loamy soil in which many less fussy plants grow. 

But plants are fussy. You can prepare the soil for them, ensure they have the right nutrients, tend them with love and they show they aren’t happy! 

I need to move some plants this year .. not least some of my herbs. I have never planted on a steep gradient before and need to consider drainage and erosion of soil with its nutrients … My herbs species such as Rosemary, Thymes and Lavenders, which originate in more Mediterranean climates, survived but were not happy. They require a gritter well drained soil with lower nutrient content for their roots. But I have a plan! 

I watch plant emerge … acknowledging their survival … noticing the ‘shape’ they are in. I make new plans to cultivate other areas differently .. to make new ‘rooms’ as the opportunity arises. And there is an excitement there … There’s also a sadness that the new owners of my Lymm garden will not know of the rareity of some of the plants collected over 30 years, popping up in their new garden!  

But my heart is now in creating something magical here.  And that feels exciting …………..