GET THE LOOK: THE CIRCULAR GARDEN
A round theme and some interesting stone objects
IT’s fair to say that Joan Gaunt has a pretty well-rounded view on life, and this is especially apparent in her plant-filled garden on a sloping site in Yorkshire.
The opportunity to make her mark on a sizable plot overlooking fields, woods and a nature reserve was a distinct plus when she was househunting almost 20 years ago, although she kept as much as she could from what was there when she moved in.
Back then, most of the plot consisted of grass, but there was a small selection of existing trees and shrubs, along with other features such as a small circular stone wall fondly referred to
“I had mixed feelings about the mermaid bath!”
as ‘the wishing well’.
“I’m a big believer in the ‘make do and mend’ approach – I like recycling things, including making my own compost,” she laughs. “I kept many of the trees and shrubs that were here, although I still have mixed feelings about the mermaid bird bath!”
While Joan has never drawn up a formal design for her outside space, it’s pretty clear that circles and ovals are a recurring feature, whether it’s the ring of stones in front of her late 1960s home or the round gravelled area behind with its paths that radiate outwards and partial curving fence surround that provides an eye-catching feature and helps to divide the garden into very distinct sections.
Elsewhere, her ‘go with the flow’ philosophy has resulted in a series of eye-catching amorphous beds separated by corresponding grass pathways, all of which have been created around an existing pieris
and conifers planted close to a septic tank and the very spectacular ‘Leonard Messel’ magnolia.
“I started with just a few specimens and some plants I had brought from my previous home, including three hollies in pots and snowdrops from my great grandfather’s garden,” says Joan, who opened in aid of the National Garden Scheme (NGS) for the 10th time in 2018 and is doing it again in 2019.
“I also inherited a large greenhouse from the previous owner of my house and started growing plants from seeds from the Royal Horticultural Society,” she reveals. “Once I had enough plants to fill one bed, I moved on to another.”
The overriding theme of circles and curves is accentuated by a selection of carefully placed evergreens, such as holly and box clipped into umbrella and spherical shapes, all of which add year-round structure to the garden.
Further interest is provided by several quirky features that have taken Joan’s fancy over the years, such as a group of timber piles once used in a canalised river and a stone face from a reclamation yard.
Nevertheless, for her it’s the plants that are the stars and over the years she’s put together an eye-catching selection that get off to a colourful start in spring.
“I love being in the garden and spend as much time as I can outside; it keeps me fit,” says Joan, who worked long hours in a professional career before she retired.
“The garden changes all the time and there’s always something to see as the year follows its cycle.”
Take inspiration from a landmark: Joan has created a mini stone circle based on the historic monument in Avebury to provide a feature on stone chippings at the front of her home. Bergenia cordifolia creates spring colour in a bed edged with sleepers
These metal-tipped timber piles from a canalised river at Worksop create an intriguing feature among the daffodils and grape hyacinth Elephant’s ears (bergenias) provide spring colour. Look for B. stracheyi Alba Group or cultivars such as ‘Bressingham White’ for paler blooms
Use the remains of a tree: turn it into an attractive feature by underplanting with a contrasting flower, such as the starry blooms of wood anemone Anemone nemorosa growing around the trunk of a thuja
Make the most of acid soil by growing rhododendrons, such as this glorious
R. basilicum, with its extravagant ruff of leaves under bell-shaped blooms and delightful perfume
Create features with bird baths and striking plants, like Pieris japonica ‘Mountain Fire’, with its panicles of white lily of the valley-like flowers