“I grow plants that excite me”
A busy doctor has transformed a messy plot into a plant-packed garden, with a serene courtyard, hot borders and a potager
When Ed and partner Charlie took on an overgrown garden in the Welsh Marches, complete with derelict outbuildings, he knew he could let his love of plants run riot. “I grew up on a commercial nursery, and spent my childhood helping my mother prick out and pot on plants,” he says. “So, my approach to gardening is to grow plants that excite me.” The one-acre site is divided into several distinct areas by the various buildings. In one area, they have created a vibrant cut-flower patch. They also turned their attention to the gravel courtyard, which had been used as a car park by previous owners. They had land drains installed and added a layer of topsoil to allow planting. But it was the introduction of a circular pond in the centre, combined with a simple colour palette of pale flowers, that unified the awkwardly shaped space. Ed entered our Gardens of the Year 2018 competition, and only narrowly missed out on being in the top three.
Ed (right) and his partner Charlie took on the previously overgrown garden in 2012 Chocolate-coloured sunflowers can be grown from seed to make dramatic cut flowers Vibrant-orange dahlias are easy to grow from tubers Annual climber morning glory ( Ipomoea) clothes the archway in the cut-flower garden
How have you modified the structure of the garden?
We’ve completely re-landscaped it. The previous owners had mostly laid the garden to lawn, and planted some good hedges, but then it became very overgrown. We created a potager area for growing veg and cut flowers. Along the wall of one of the buildings, we planted a 25m-long rose border, and in the gap between two buildings we planted two hot borders, full of vibrant tropical plants. We also moved the parking away from the house to make a new courtyard garden. The yard is a rhomboid and nothing is square, so I decided to build a circular pond in the centre to provide a focal point and tie the irregular shape together.
What about colour and other design elements?
As the courtyard is enclosed by farm buildings and the house – with no views of the countryside surrounding it – we painted the pond liner black and tinted the water so it reflects the clouds and sky like a mirror. Around the pond, we laid out four box-edged borders. The borders are planted to provide interest from April to the first frosts of autumn. It starts with spring bulbs, particularly tulips and alliums, followed by herbaceous perennials and, finally, annuals and dahlias. The colour scheme is white with a small amount of purple. I originally
Pots of pastel-toned petunias and Hydrangea ‘Vanille Fraise’ flank the steps into the white garden Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ is repeated in each box-lined border to create unity The central circular pond ties the irregularly shaped courtyard together Pots are filled with white cosmos and dahlias, and lime-coloured petunias
went for just white, but it was hard to maintain as nature kept finding ways to bring colour in. The purple really sharpens the white, and helps distract if the odd pastel creeps in.
What challenges did you face?
The land to the west of us is completely open to the Welsh hills and so the garden is exposed to strong winds, which can be damaging and dry out our thin, sandy soil. I’ve learnt the hard way to stake everything!
What is your favourite part of the garden?
It depends on the season and time of day. In June, I enjoy looking out over the potager and watching the swifts chasing each other. On dull days, it has to be watching clouds reflected in the pond in the courtyard garden. I also love the courtyard at twilight, when the white flowers glow in the moonlight.
Tall, airy grass seedheads help to divide one area of the garden from another Love-lies-bleeding ( Amaranthus caudatus) adds tassels of burgundy flowers The dark foliage of the castor oil plant ( Ricinus communis ‘Red Giant’) acts as a foil for the bright flowers of dahlias and gladioli
The colours and shapes in the hot borders are exquisite, and the rose border is lovely. They’ve made good use of the plot’s assets Diarmuid Gavin
January 2019 gardenersworld.com