A round theme and some in­ter­est­ing stone ob­jects

Amateur Gardening - - Contents -

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

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