Garden of the Week
The artistic owner of this fabulous garden really loves her plants and has provided a haven for wildlife in the Liverpool suburbs
Pat Williams gardens in the leafy Victorian suburb of Sefton in Liverpool. Her double-fronted, Victorian villa, which is also a highly-rated B & B, has a small front garden and a slightly larger, sunnier walled back garden that’s planted with foliage in mind.
When Pat arrived in 1983 the whole area was run down and depressed. There had been riots in nearby Toxteth in 1981 and many nearby houses were derelict or neglected. However, the Garden Festival of 1984, instigated by Michael Heseltine, attracted more than three million visitors and kick-started the regeneration of this Victorian suburb.
Pat grew up on Lord Derby’s estate at St Helens, a few miles north east of Liverpool, and she began gardening as a child. She was the eldest of seven and family life was happy, but hectic. “I used to roam through the water meadows and woods and run along the stream because in those days children were allowed to wander,” she says.
Pat went on to train as a teacher of art and design. She has an artistic eye and her garden relies on strong architectural shapes and bold foliage, with a smattering of mainly pink and yellow flowers. Pat grows most of her flowers on her nearby allotment and she also raises plants for her gardening openings up there.
She had been house-sitting for four years, just a quarter of a mile away, before she moved in and clearly loves the area. “I’m sandwiched between Sefton Park and Princes Park,” she explains, “and it’s a wonderful area of the city to live in.”
She recalls wheeling round four barrowloads of plants when she moved here. “The garden was immaculately kept, with a lawn surrounded by very narrow borders. There was a hideous concrete garage and a small aluminium greenhouse. We had two derelict houses behind us and an empty house next door.
“The garden had five-foot high
brick walls round much of it, so the first thing I did was to add posts and barbed wire and I planted roses and cotoneaster.” This was partly to block the view, partly for privacy and partly for security. Pat covered the unsightly garage with the mile-a-minute Russian vine ( Fallopia baldschuanica), although ‘that’s long gone’.
The brick walls began to be planted up straight away and brick pillars were added later, a present from Pat’s late husband, who died in 2004. “Colin was a bonsai man,” Pat says, “and we’ve included his acers and other trees in the garden so it has a Japanese feel in certain areas.”
Colin also built a square, formal pond, shortly after they moved in, and this still attracts lots of wildlife. This is good news
Gardener Patricia Williams Location Sefton Villa, 14 Sefton Drive, Sefton Park, Liverpool, Merseyside L8 3SD Been in garden Since 1983 Size of garden Back: 9 x 22m (30x 22ft); front: 13 x 9m (43x30ft) Soil Neutral to slightly acid Situation Walled,...
The old Victorian brick walls are the perfect backdrop to Pat’s plants. Framed by a cercis tree are predominantly pink, purple and yellow blooms
Left, achillea and leucanthemum make the perfect combo and, right, cercis ‘Forest Pansy’ is a sun-loving tree with glorious leaves