Friday, June 19, 2009
On Wednesday we went to visit some friends. They are over from Canada and staying with his parents in Colwall, on the Herefordshire side of the Malvern Hills. It was great to see old friends again, to meet their children, and to hear Marcus and Ben playing music together again - after only half an hour's jam in 4 years, they did a slot at a blues club, and went down very well. But as well as all this, Marcus's parents have an amazing garden. These pictures were very quick snaps and they only show some parts of it - only after I'd left did I realise I'd missed out some of the main areas, but they give a vague idea.
I tried to summarise for myself what the main appeal of the garden was, as an exercise because otherwise I tend to feel so overwhelmed that I can't relate it to our own space and find any way to learn from it. I like the fact that from the main vantage point (which to me was the conservatory) there was a clear focus: the central bed.
This had strong but simple colour, coming at the moment from a natural version of gladioli, and also sustained interest from several well-used bird feeders. Around this point a large area of lawn gave a feeling of space, with the edges of it curving in different directions out of sight which made you want to explore. When you stepped out into the garden the paving was both securely flat and smooth and also pleasing to look at, so that it brought the interest of the garden right to your feet.
A path curved along the house around tall plants that lapped up against the walls, with climbers ascending to a balcony above.
The boundary consisted of a rich variety of established shrubs, with just enough variegated, silver and russet colours to add richness but not over-complicate, and a glorious cedar tree was a great bonus in a distant garden. And to cap it all, the village cricket ground lies beyond the far hedge.
The conservatory contained many cacti and succulents and this made me realise that plants like that would be a good choice for ours too. In the immaculate vegetable area, edged in box, I saw scorzonera growing, which I'd never seen before, and in the greenhouse, aubergines. Blime!
So it was all a great spur to make our own garden feel more unified by the sense of care and sustained attention. Maybe I'm not explaining this very well. The grotty bits in ours look like dropped stitches, detracting from the whole. But maybe this is something that is much more noticable in one's own garden.
And I was given a souvenir: a nice little chunk of a very pretty blue-flowered plant, which looks like a larger garden variety of one of my favourite weeds. I will show you this when I have it settled into its new home.