Out­door rooms frame views

Val­ley views, for­mal lawns and ad­ven­tur­ous plant­ing add drama in this colour­ful gar­den. Owner Jackie Healy shows us around

Garden Answers (UK) - - Contents -

There are few views to ri­val the sweep­ing panora­mas of the Wye Val­ley in the For­est of Dean. This leafy gar­den lies on the EnglishWelsh bor­der near Chep­stow and frames those rolling hill­sides per­fectly. “You can see the hills just peep­ing through the trees,” says owner Jackie Healy, who lives here with her hus­band Fintan. “We have a mound in the back gar­den that’s part of the orig­i­nal Offa’s Dyke. We’re not al­lowed to plant on it, but as it’s in a wooded part of the gar­den I’ve planted rhodo­den­drons around it and po­si­tioned a stand­ing stone on top. “Our soil here is acidic and very heavy clay,” says Jackie. “We have builders here at the mo­ment us­ing a dig­ger to ex­ca­vate foot­ings for a new ex­ten­sion, and it’s like slic­ing through a cake. The tex­ture is so dense it bakes to con­crete in sum­mer, but be­comes a sticky mess in winter. “There are lots of ben­e­fits to hav­ing clay though – plants such as rhodo­den­drons, roses and Ja­panese anemones don’t mind at all. Oth­ers don’t man­age quite so well – I have to plunge-plant my dahlias into the bor­der in their pots, lift­ing them at the end of the sea­son to over­win­ter in the green­house. But on the whole I think clay is bet­ter.” Jackie has gar­dened all her life and comes from a gar­den­ing fam­ily. “When we bought the house in 2008 I could see that the gar­den had po­ten­tial. At the time it was just grass, with one huge rhododendron in the mid­dle of the front lawn and lots of ma­ture trees all around – some of them dat­ing back 200 years, so we’re re­ally very lucky. “It wasn’t un­til 2012 that we started to de­velop the gar­den in earnest,” says

The soil is heavy clay... but there are lots of ben­e­fits for rhodo­den­drons and roses

Jackie. “We be­gan by hard land­scap­ing the area around the house to make space for din­ing al fresco, then I planted 60 tiny yew trees as maiden whips, each about 10-12 inches tall, to cre­ate smaller ‘gar­dens within the gar­den’.” The front gar­den is twice the size of the back gar­den, which ta­pers into a tri­an­gle. “We have an acre in front and half an acre be­hind,” ex­plains Jackie. “There’s a long drive so you can’t see the house at all from the road. On one side we have a spring-fed stream that rises three fields above the house, and on the other a win­ter­borne [a stream that runs dry in sum­mer]. On the stream side, we’ve cre­ated a lovely gar­den full of hy­drangeas, Eu­cryphia ny­mansen­sis ‘Ny­mansay’, irises and lots of can­de­labra prim­u­las in sum­mer.” The house it­self faces due south and is framed by a broad gravel path, laven­der hedge and pots of aga­pan­thus. “The for­mal front gar­den is laid to lawn with sym­met­ri­cal is­land beds on ei­ther side,” says Jackie. “It’s con­tained within a frame­work of yew, with clipped stan­dards of Ilex aquifolium ‘Ar­gen­tea Marginata’ and col­umns of Ir­ish yew of­fer­ing year-round ever­green in­ter­est.” In spring, white Mag­no­lia stel­lata trees come into flower with a pro­fu­sion of colour­ful tulips. “These are fol­lowed by the roses in June,” says Jackie. “We have crim­son-maroon ‘Tus­cany Su­perb’ and pink ‘Scepter’d Isle’, along­side pen­ste­mons, geum ‘Red Wings’, gera­ni­ums, eu­phor­bia and clouds of frothy pink Thal­ic­trum delavayi. “From late sum­mer into au­tumn there’s red-flow­ered san­guisorba and Pan­icum vir­ga­tum ‘Rubrum’, min­gling with per­si­caria ‘Golden Ar­row’, dahlias and tall pink­flow­ered Eu­pa­to­rium pur­pureum, which the bees love.” In 2014 the cou­ple had to dig up part of the gar­den to lay drainage pipes. “I took the op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate a new ter­raced area,” says Jackie. “This has a cir­cu­lar lay­out, with gran­ite setts and in­laid gravel form­ing a cross sur­rounded by four quad­rant-shaped beds. One end is en­closed with a row of hazel hur­dles around a rowan tree, form­ing a seat­ing area where we like to sit out and drink gin and tonic on sum­mer evenings. “Trel­lis pan­els help to en­close the space, pro­vid­ing sup­port for creamy-white

The ter­race is a lovely place to sit out and drink gin and tonic on a sum­mer evening

MI­DAS TOUCH Gold-flow­ered chrysan­the­mum ‘Dix­ter Or­ange’, yel­low Rud­beckia hirta and he­lianthus ‘Le­mon Queen’ make a bold show, with peachy rose ‘Lady of Shalott’ op­po­site

GAR­DEN GLIMPSES (clock­wise from above) Jackie’s cloud-pruned pine sits on the ter­race, with white anemone ‘Whirl­wind’ in the fore­ground and leafy shrub Neil­lia thi­bet­ica; pink Ja­panese anemone with rosa ‘Mun­stead Wood’; Aster frikartii ‘Mönch’; Jackie’s pot col­lec­tion in­cludes can­nas and lofty Arundo donax; the wooden per­gola with Cor­nus con­tro­versa ‘Var­ie­gata’ in the fore­ground IN­SET Nas­tur­tium

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