So, it’s always a bit daunting being handed the responsibility of a new garden. Usually, I’m confronted with a completely blank canvas, a square of grass with perhaps an oil tank, one or two trees, occasionally a limp, weedy hanging basket with one die hard pelargonium clinging on for dear life. This is the first garden that I’ve had that actually has ‘bones’.
I’ve been thinking of ways to play it. I feel that a garden with bones needs someone to respect it, pay a bit of heed to the garden’s previous carer, who spent back breaking hours tending it, putting their own story into it, however twee or old fashioned that story may be. It would be extremely arrogant of me to just wade in and rip everything up and start again. Having said that though, a shit Camellia and a variegated Eleagnus have been eradicated without mercy.
Delightfully, as I fell arse over tit exploring the lay of the land (which encompasses every version of ‘slope’ in the English language), it is clear that there is quite a beautiful natural low meadow existing round the established apple trees and fruit bushes. Full of Prunella vulgaris, Trifolium repens, tons of fruiting Fragaria vesca and of course, Ranunculus repens. I concluded that I need to get the scythe out and get everything right down so that I can see what exactly is going on. A bit of understated terracing working with the natural flow of the hill will be easier to work with than full scale warfare with heavy machinery, plus I’ll hope to keep and encourage more of that low meadow, perhaps drawing it away from the blackcurrant and gooseberry bushes for mulching reasons.
beyond the fruiting orchard meadow, a good size expanse for creating three terraces to turn over into vegetable heaven, edged by the long run of raspberry canes and rhubarb which create a perfect finale to the future potager area. Beyond them is the potential for many things, which, for now, can wait, since it’s a daunting enough prospect tackling one half of things!
Sitting in the space and just absorbing atmosphere is definitely key to creating/adding to a garden. There is a tangible welcoming charm here that evokes some lost childhood memory of being in an overgrown Cotswold garden in the hot sun, with raspberry juiced finger tips stroking a big ginger dog, it was all deafening birdsong, wind through boughs heavy with mid-summer leaf and long, long minutes lost. I love it here. I can tell. The garden is already giving and I haven’t even broken a single vertebrae yet! God bless gardens with old bones.