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!
“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’
A pond and Japanese maples create a tranquil sitting area