Gar­den­ers’ Gar­den 2018 At last we can re­veal the win­ners of our Co­bra Gar­den com­pe­ti­tion 2018

At last we can re­veal the win­ners of our gar­den com­pe­ti­tion spon­sored by Co­bra Gar­den!

Garden Answers (UK) - - Contents -

“WE’VE GARDENED here for 30 years,” says Gar­den­ers’ Gar­den 2018 win­ner, Pamela Gray. “When we ar­rived it was just a square of lawn with two ap­ple trees. Over the years we’ve in­tro­duced a veg­etable gar­den, pond and lots of trees and shrubs to give the gar­den shade and pri­vacy. Some days we can for­get there are other houses around us. “The house was for­merly owned by the coun­cil for hospi­tal work­ers, and when the houses were sold they kept some of the land be­hind, which is why we have a few large bound­ary trees ap­par­ently in the mid­dle of the gar­den. We were even­tu­ally able to buy back the land and bring it into the gar­den, giv­ing us space to add more ‘rooms’ – our Oval Gar­den, with an oval is­land bed of grasses, hostas and peren­ni­als, and a large veg­etable gar­den with three green­houses. “My hus­band Barry built the pond, and

laid the paths and pa­tios. He used to keep two al­lot­ments but now grows all the veg in our two main veg­etable beds, which are cov­ered in fine mesh cages to keep pests out. We grow onions, leeks, peas and beans, maize and beetroot, with pots of goose­ber­ries and blue­ber­ries and a small lemon tree. We grew 19 dif­fer­ent tomato cul­ti­vars this year in the green­house, and four types of basil from cut­tings! “I’ve got a City & Guilds in flower ar­rang­ing and that of­ten comes out in my plant­ing schemes. “My favourite plants in­clude pelargo­ni­ums and be­go­nias, but we also have grasses such as Mis­cant­hus sinen­sis ‘Ze­bri­nus’ and Stipa gi­gan­tea. The gar­den at­tracts a fair amount of wildlife; we’ve had gold­crests, voles and an owl among our visi­tors.”

“MY HUS­BAND DAVID built the house here in 1989, to farm red deer,” says our sec­ond­prize win­ner, Sarah Rayner. “When I joined him here 23 years ago it was very windy and ex­posed – a Pot­ton house in a field – with grass right up to the front door. There was a ropy-look­ing hedge and a ditch, plus some trees along the ridge, but we wanted to max­imise the views so we took some of trees out and made a deck­ing view­ing plat­form in­stead. “Since then I’ve in­tro­duced dif­fer­ent for­mal and in­for­mal plant­ing ar­eas. The gar­den is like a se­ries of rooms that flow right around the back of the house, from the open bar­be­cue area with a planted herb bed, to the gravel gar­den with its grasses and suc­cu­lents, through for­mal ar­eas of ever­green shrubs, paving and top­i­ary to the stumpery at the back of our work­shop. “As a child I en­joyed ex­plor­ing gar­dens with ex­cit­ing lit­tle paths, which is why paths run in and out of each area here; you don’t have to take the same route twice. I’ve also cre­ated framed vis­tas that of­fer strate­gic glimpses of the gar­den. I’m still work­ing on the plant­ing, but I’m re­ally happy with the lay­out. “We held a sculp­ture ex­hi­bi­tion in the gar­den one year and I bought some wire birds in­clud­ing a pheas­ant, crow and robin. Var­i­ous bee and bird boxes, a gar­land of wil­low stars, rusty keys, shells and wil­low balls are also on dis­play – I love any­thing with a sculp­tural el­e­ment. “Wildlife is a key part of the gar­den: we’ve had foxes, deer, badgers, owls and buz­zards, and kestrels nest­ing in the barn. We’ve had to in­stall anti-bad­ger fenc­ing though – they dug up a lot of tulips I’d bought on a spe­cial trip to Hol­land, so I wasn’t best pleased!”

“OUR GAR­DEN lies on land that used to be ten­nis courts,” ex­plains third-prize win­ner, Mary Hayter. “We do still find the odd patch of cin­der when we’re dig­ging! “My hus­band Iain built the house here in the 1950s, cre­at­ing bound­aries with Law­son’s cy­press hedges, which are now well es­tab­lished. Our main hedge di­vides the or­na­men­tal gar­den from the work­ing area be­hind, where we have a spring bor­der, green­house, veg­etable beds and an an­cient ‘Bram­ley’ ap­ple tree, planted in 1960. “When I mar­ried Iain in 2002 the gar­den was mostly laid to lawn. All the borders have been cre­ated in the past 16 years. We’ve opened for the Na­tional Gar­den Scheme for 13 years, rais­ing £35,000. “Iain’s orig­i­nal lawn was very straight when I moved here, but I in­tro­duced the first curve while he was away on busi­ness… now, there’s not a straight edge any­where! “Seven years ago our neigh­bours built a house right next to our gar­den, which changed its whole dy­namic. For more than a year we looked out onto breeze blocks, and much of the gar­den was cast into shade. So, we cre­ated a new bor­der to hide it. “We opted for a glazed sum­mer­house too, which was great un­til the neigh­bours took down their enor­mous ley­landi hedge! Since then I’ve painted mu­rals on the win­dows, fea­tur­ing New For­est ponies and deer. They glow when the sun shines in from be­hind. “The gar­den looks lovely from spring on­wards, and pro­gresses through the colour pal­ette at dif­fer­ent times of year, fin­ish­ing with or­ange flow­ers in late sum­mer. Other favourites in­clude clema­tis and phlox. “The grand­chil­dren visit and seem to be more keen on gar­den­ing than their par­ents! They en­joy our open days, and hap­pily work on the gate. Lexie (9) gives tours, show­ing other chil­dren the hid­den fairy houses. “We have lots of bird feed­ers that at­tract wood­peck­ers, goldfinches, chaffinches, siskins, thrushes, wrens and the odd spar­rowhawk. How­ever, we have to keep our gates closed or the New For­est ponies, don­keys and deer would eat ev­ery­thing!”

“WE’VE BEEN gar­den­ing here for 37 years and have been open for the NGS 10 years, since 2007, as part of the Lan­g­ley Vil­lage Open Gar­dens,” says our run­ner up, Anne Har­ris, who gar­dens here with hus­band Neil. “When we first moved here, it was a farm­work­ers’ cot­tage and half the gar­den was fenced off to keep geese. There was a lot of con­crete and some cor­ru­gated iron pan­els that we had to re­move, but the bones were there and you could see at one time it had been a nice gar­den.

“To­day the gar­den has a mix of dif­fer­ent plant­ing ar­eas: there’s a hot dry area by the house, which I call my mini Beth Chatto gar­den (!), and a damp shady area to­wards the back, which is where I grow hostas, astilbes and can­de­labra prim­u­las in spring. “We’ve built a raised plat­form at the far end of the gar­den, which catches the sun at the end of the day. It’s a lovely place to sit and look out over the gar­den and neigh­bour­ing fields. “The gar­den has evolved over the years - as the chil­dren got older we grad­u­ally made the borders deeper, to the point where there’s no lawn at all now, just me­an­der­ing grass paths that the grand­chil­dren love to ex­plore. I’m not too both­ered if they want to kick a ball about. For me, the gar­den is pri­mar­ily for the chil­dren and for wildlife. “We’ve had a fam­ily of moorhens, vis­it­ing ducks, bullfinches, wood­peck­ers, newts, hedge­hogs, goldfinches and a bad­ger in the gar­den. We even be­came adop­tive par­ents to a fam­ily of or­phaned hedge­hogs. “When it comes to di­vi­sion of labour, Neil does the hedges and lawn while I do the pretty bits. Among the plants we like best is our col­lec­tion of hostas, sum­mer phloxes, can­de­labra prim­u­las, heme­ro­cal­lis, ferns and astilbes. The gar­den looks its best when the old shrub roses come out in June.”

“GRAHAME AND I have lived here 30 years, but when we first moved in the gar­den was a com­plete mess,” says Peo­ple’s Choice win­ner Sallyanne King. “There were enor­mous sting­ing net­tles and ev­ery­thing was com­pletely over­grown.

Get­ting the gar­den how we want it has taken a long time but I’d say that in the last two years we’ve fi­nally got it how we want it. We’re re­ally pleased with it, but work is still on­go­ing. “We were lucky in that my hus­band Grahame was able to take early re­tire­ment a while ago so at last we’ve been able to keep on top of it – we spend ev­ery evening and week­end out in the gar­den, and now Grahame is out there most days in sum­mer. “We both love our seat­ing ar­eas – there are six ar­eas spread through­out the gar­den, of­fer­ing views of the plants. This is the first year we’ve been able to ac­tu­ally sit out and en­joy the gar­den prop­erly! “It’s only a small ur­ban gar­den but the ar­eas we’ve cre­ated in­clude a deck­ing ter­race, a pond area with a bench, a pa­tio with a hot tub over­look­ing the gar­den, a Ja­panese area full of acers and Ori­en­tal or­na­ments and, to­wards the top of the gar­den, is a cir­cu­lar gazebo where we have a col­lec­tion of old farm ma­chin­ery – plough parts, rope and hang­ing pul­leys. There’s also a wooden play­house that used to be­long to our daugh­ters when they were young. “We buy most of our plants from a lo­cal nurs­ery to keep the costs down. We’ve got lots of lovely trees in­clud­ing a mon­key puz­zle tree, two lovely old Ja­panese fir trees, sil­ver birches and acers, which are our favourites. We also grow wis­te­ria, clema­tis, wal­nut and fig trees, which help to give the gar­den a lot of pri­vacy and a ma­ture, es­tab­lished look.”

An­nu­als and ten­der peren­ni­als pro­vide splashes of sum­mer colour in pas­tel shades

Sarah has framed views of the rolling coun­try­side be­yond the gar­den

Strate­gi­cally placed stat­ues bring sur­prises at ev­ery turn

Pas­sion­flow­ers scram­ble up the per­gola in this pretty sun­trap

Curved beds help lead the eye around the gar­den

A view down the gar­den, past pots of prim­u­las and fox­gloves

The oc­tag­o­nal green­house, with red cro­cos­mia and brick well

Shady sit­ting area un­der Acer ne­gundo ‘Flamingo’

Can­de­labra prim­u­las

A pond and Ja­panese maples cre­ate a tran­quil sit­ting area

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