EVER SINCE WE ARRIVED ON THE HILLSIDE 13 YEARS AGO I HAVE DREAMED OF MAKING A BEAUTIFUL GARDEN.
In my imagination the lawns are mown into stripes and squares, flat and rich enough to welcome the most stringent player of bowls or croquet. The borders are full of exquisite flowering shrubs and unusual specimens arranged in dazzlingly sumptuous groups of form and colour – a miniature Sissinghurst or Great Dixter perhaps? The roses are overwhelming in number and variety, healthy and well trained over pergolas and trellis, the lavender and box are trimmed and clipped into hedges and edges, the kitchen garden resplendent with fine produce and health-giving bounty.
It’s good to dream. In reality the ‘lawns’ are rough meadows of different grass types, each growing at their own particular rate and sprinkled with wild flowers, dandelions, weeds, clover, buttercups and daisies. The borders are still sadly bereft of shrubs and sculpture, my early attempts at importing English style perennials and annuals having failed spectacularly to produce lasting results. The roses refuse to respond to my tidying and pruning, running wild over walls and neighbouring plants and my attempts at topiary have been regularly flattened by careless drivers and over-enthusiastic dogs. The two lilac trees I planted several years ago should now be in full bloom, standing in majestic symmetry either side of some roses and iris but whilst one has attained well over 3 metres in height and is weighted down with blooms, the other is no taller than Freddie the labrador and shows little sign of producing even a single flowerhead.
As consolation there are 3 other lilacs here planted by our predecessors but I wonder which school of garden design they were following when they decided to site them in a distant corner crammed against a 12 foot wall, hidden behind a 30 foot fir tree and a massive lime. Ah well, the flowers produced by these bewildered specimens may be few in number and barely visible except by helicopter but they are incredibly beautiful. Each year I climb up the wall to rescue the most hidden of the blooms and bring them in to decorate the house and to breathe, for just a few days, their spectacular perfume…………
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ALL PHOTOS © JANE MORLEY
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