“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

Gardeners' World - - Real Gardens -

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

Jan­uary 2019

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