Monday, August 30, 2010

Visit to Victoria's garden

Victoria, who writes Victoria's Backyard - - opened her garden as part of the yellow book scheme on Sunday. I imagine lots of people reading this will be regular readers of her blog anyway, so you'll know - and she also writes in the Independent I think. Anyway, it's one of my favourite blogs to read so of course I went to see it.

Victoria's house is in south-west London, on a street of houses of similar size, large early 20th century, all very civilized and leafy.

There was a table in front of the house where 2 young adults (can't call them children, too old) were very politely selling tickets. Then I went up a narrow side passage, along the left side of the house. I was met as I went into the garden by a little secluded seating area with cannaes and other lush exotics surrounding it. Just to the right was a further paved area, along the back of the house, and the garden stretched out from that. It is rectangular but a good bit wider than most English town back gardens. There is an area of grass in the middle and planting around it. The plants look exotic but I think many are hardier than they seem. Near the house are two huge phormiums which frame the view into the rest of the garden. There's a raised pond to the right, a shed hidden discreetly in the far left corner, and several small seating areas nestled into the sides.

Many, many pots are fitted in amongst it all, and several quirky touches - rusted metal mushrooms in one place, metal lilies, and a very sweet ceramic cow (but when I admired this I found it was left from a previous owner - trust my unerring taste!).

It all works so, so well to make a satisfying whole, but it's fascinating to examine in detail too. The plants have body, substance to them, each seems to be something in its own right - not just part of a big wavy border. Each fits in with its neighbours by contrasting texture of leaf and form, like a subtle jigsaw. It isn't an all-green garden, - there are some flowers, mostly very bright jewel colours - but these are highlights rather than a glaring mass. It isn't weird or way-out - I can't imagine anyone hating it - but it is very much a style that appeals to me. I haven't quite grown into the desire for such an exotic feel yet though.

Victoria was talking to everyone, being very friendly. She looked much younger and less formidable than I expected! I really liked meeting someone whose blog I have read for a while now, and it was good to connect up the garden and the person, to be with her in it, like being able to talk to an artist right there in front of their pictures, and in their own house too. In fact it did feel slightly intrusive. I felt like a welcome interloper.

I took some pictures but very few - of course there are lots of good ones on her blog itself anyway. It was both inspiring and encouraging. I'm so glad I went.


  1. Thank you Emily! I like Victoria's blog, and it was very interesting to look at her garden with your eyes. I loved to read how you described the garden's border ( a part with a 'jigsaw'. Thanks!

  2. Emily, it was wonderful to meet you and I'm so glad you came. I just wish we'd had longer to talk - but open day is always so busy.
    Your post is great; it's always fascinating to see the garden through someone else's eyes.
    I haven't done my own post yet as I felt so knackered afterwards, but reading yours has made me feel reenergised.
    Victoria xx

  3. Hi Emily, It is so much fun to meet our fellow bloggers. I love Victoria's blog too and her garden... it is fun to hear your perspective on it. Beautiful descriptive writing ... you paint the images of her garden with your words. ;>)


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