The garden at Burton Grange - this is going to be a long project. It starts, in October 2013, with 2 acres - pretty much totally laid to lawn, but with about 400 metres of Leylandii Hedges in it. The 3 pictures below are from our first Christmas. Below that you can see the visual story.
THE ROSE GARDEN
I'm going to start with the Rose Garden (originally called the paved garden!) because it was where I began creating our garden. I felt most confident here because it was the nearest thing to a London garden. We spent a long time talking about what to call it. Although it has a wall around it, it's not really a walled garden because the wall is only 2' 6" tall. I refuse to call it a patio so, in a rather awkward fashion, we are calling it the Paved Garden. It's the only part of the garden that is in my comfort zone - i.e. all the planting is quite close to you - but at the same time it has the potential to be much more interesting because there are views beyond, into the garden and the fields, and and also there is the problem of how to connect four beds without being predictable. However, when we started there weren't 4 beds, there was just this.
No beds, no plants, no colour. When you looked out of the back door of the house, you saw the wall, then the leylandii hedge, the fence. Three horizontal lines, blocking what is the most amazing view down towards Mere, which finally ends in the view of the church tower.
I don't know why our predecessors did this, but it had to change.
So, we made it into 4 beds, got rid of the leylandii hedge, and opened up the wall so that the eye is taken down the garden. Once we had done that, the whole direction of the garden was different.
I know that you can't really see it in this photo, but on the skyline is the tower of Mere church, framed by the copper beech. This view is wonderful at all times of day, and at night, if there isn't moonlight, it doesn't matter because it is lit up. It is utterly beautiful and I felt, once we had done this, we had started to create something that would, one day, be a garden.
Then Nick Howell and his boys built a pergola! Meanwhile, I sat in the flat in Clapham trying to design how I wanted it to look. I had a sort of plan which was to have wisteria, roses and vines growing up the poles of the pergola, have lavender hedges round the beds, a circle of 8 Chandos Beauty roses round the garden with some kind of statement plants between each pair of roses and overall, have the two beds near the house matching and the two other matching.
In March, when the pergola was finished, I persuaded Will, George and Hannah to come down and plant 250 lavender plants. Because the soil was so wet, we had to dig trenches, put in gravel and compost and then plant the lavender. It was very hard work and I had RSI for days. We were also looking for interesting flints for Hannah (who was in the middle of an archeology course) but after deciding that the first 200 flints weren't, in fact arrow heads, we abandoned this effort!
Once the lavender was in, I planted the rest of the beds. I'm not going to go through all the plants but here you can see Artemesia Valerie Finnis, Perovskia Blue Spire, Stipa tenuissima - and lots of other plants!
Now - it starts to get really exciting..........so I'm just going to go visual!
I can't tell you how wonderful it was, this first summer, to see the Paved Garden coming into its own and looking so pretty. Of course there have been mistakes - the cosmos (Dazzler) grew six foot tall which upset the design, the grasses totally overwhelmed everything and will have to be banished to the nether regions of the garden but, on the whole, I am really pleased. The pinks have not stopped flowering since early april, the geranium. Rozanne is wonderful, and A Shropshire Lad is almost as glorious as Chandos Beauty. It has been a fantastic first season and, hopefully, things can only get better. Next year: the peanut bed!