James and Emily Chua's Garden in Stoke Goldington
We have created a garden from a rough field of just under three acres starting 21 years ago. Near the house a series of terraces, cut into the sloping site, become the formal part of the design with long and cross vistas, lawns and deep borders with drifts of perennials, specimen shrubs, trees, clematis and climbing roses. The aim is to provide interest throughout the year with a naturalistic style and views borrowed from the surrounding countryside.
Paths and steps link a series of quiet sitting areas and lead to a wildlife pond surrounded by dense planting. Beyond this is an open flower meadow with long grass, mown paths and a colony of indigenous bee orchids. The meadow is fringed by a horseshoe of deciduous trees planted at the Millennium and containing a serpentine walk with woodland bulbs, shade loving perennials and ferns.
Much of the materials we use are recycled from the local environment. We are constantly evolving the planting and layout, often inspired by great gardens we have visited and new plants we find. We hope to share our love of plants and design with our visitors.
Canons Ashby (NT)
Tony and Pam Woods' Garden in Spratton
This was an unusual visit as it was to the garden of a couple of our Group members.
Pam and Tony have a ¾ acre garden planted for plant lovers. There we saw a large range of plants grown in a variety of settings; gravel garden, pergola, ponds, stream and rockery, shrub and herbaceous borders and a vegetable garden.
Hillesden House, Hillesden
This is more of an estate than a garden with carp lakes, fountains and waterfalls, mature trees and a large conservatory.
We viewed rose, alpine, foliage and herbaceous beds making up 5 acres of formal garden surrounded by 100 acres of deer park with wild flower areas and extensive lakes.
Susan Banner's Dovecote Farm
Ursula Buchan's Garden
What a lovely evening it was as we arrived outside Ursula’s cottage and waited to be shown into the 3½ acre garden. As we walked around the side of the house we were greeted by Ursula and shown into the garden where we were offered cool drinks of wine or fruit juice and nibbles which we enjoyed while she gave us a little talk about how the garden, which she refers to as her laboratory, developed over the last 15 years and what we would see when we wandered around.
We retraced our steps out of the gate and down along the hawthorn walk which runs between the edge of the garden on one side and a wall on the other overlooking the churchyard and a lovely view of the church (quiet neighbours, except for the bells).
We passed borders that were well mulched with chippings and walked beyond these to a meadow and native woodland and weaved our way around to a paddock – no horses to be seen but great accommodation for them. The path took us to the kitchen garden where there were fruit cages for gooseberries, raspberries and a vine; also a rhubarb bed. There were two 8ft x 6ft greenhouses, one had tomatoes growing in it and next to these buildings were two cold frames and six compost bins – definitely a very good working area. Beyond the bins were raised beds with peas, potatoes, strawberries, asparagus, leeks, onions, broad beans, cabbage, lettuce, beetroot, carrots and French beans. Whew what a lot! The raised beds were 4ft wide by 8ft long and edged with lavender with a pathway between each bed for accessibility. On the opposite side to this area was an orchard with 24 fruit trees.
As we wandered back to the house and raised garden where we had taken our welcome drink we saw again the lovely plants in the borders consisting of peonies, poppies, Sweet Williams, alliums, purple salvias, blue geraniums, foxgloves and at the top of the this area on either side of the steps were two urns. It was to be the setting about three weeks later of a marquee to hold the wedding reception for Ursula’s daughter; what a wonderful setting for such a special occasion!
The garden is worked with wildlife in mind but there are no hedgehogs; however, they do have visiting grass snakes!
Ursula does most of the gardening herself but does have help from Cynthia, her trusted helper/gardener (as she said “everybody needs a Cynthia”).
The garden, although with lots to see, was also very relaxing to be in; and we, all 46 of us, thoroughly enjoyed out time spent there.