When we moved here, nearly five years ago now, the garden was a somewhat daunting space: after years of semi-neglect, thickets of brambles and nettles rendered large areas inaccessible, vastly overgrown Leylandii cast long shadows over the main lawn and a crumbling, uneven crazy-paved terrace flanked the house. Thankfully though, there were also many redeeming features: we had a wonderful space for the kids to explore, the gnarled apple and pear trees were smothered with blossom on moving day and the majestic oak tree in the far corner – not to mention the views beyond – create an impressive backdrop come what may.
The overhaul has happened piecemeal over the last few years: early on we cleared the overgrown areas, felled the majority of the conifers and created a potager-style vegetable garden that I’ve featured many times here on the blog. In 2014, the remaining conifers were removed in order to make way for the new oak garage and then last year we embarked on the most exciting phase to date when we asked garden designer, Rebecca Smith, to help us transform the remaining areas.
Rebecca’s main task was to redesign the large lawned area close to the house; on our wish list were curved flower beds to create an informal look and multiple seating areas from which we could enjoy the garden (preferably with a G&T in hand). We also asked Rebecca to create a children’s space at the far end of the garden, centred around a willow dome that we’d constructed last Easter.
Rebecca’s design was even better than we could have imagined with vast sweeping areas of low-maintenance planting featuring shrubs, grasses, flowering perennials and trees. An oak pergola with Arts & Crafts-inspired paving – a nod to the era of the house – creates a perfect spot to enjoy the morning sun, and the adjacent pond provides a beautiful focal point that was attracting dragonflies within days of being filled. The new terrace by the house – a late addition to this phase of works – completes the look and will be a joy to sit out on.
The children’s area features curved beds anchored by the willow dome at one end and a repositioned wooden playhouse at the other. Wooden logs dotted throughout the planting create stepping stones / a circular seating area beneath the boughs of the oak. A sweep of hornbeam hedging and a new gate screen the compost bins and a small utility area.
Whilst it was an ideal time to put in the new plants, almost as soon as they went in the seasons took over and their colours have, for the most part, slowly ebbed away. This is a lesson in the art of patience if I’m honest; whilst the odd frosty morning has presented the perfect opportunity to enjoy the bare bones of the garden and appreciate its structure, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t eagerly anticipating the arrival of spring, which thanks to our mild winter, might not be that far off! Once the garden does burst into life I’ll be straight out with my camera so that I can share some more of it with you.