The garden is separated into distinct sections. Click the title to expand / contract that section.
The garden as an entity surrounds the house on all sides, totalling an acre. The cottage garden is the part that people see as they arrive at the house, and it is very much a focal point of interest. Measuring about 100' x 30' it is a series of informal beds with mowed grass pathways winding through them. A mixture of old-fashioned herbaceous perennials and a few shrubs blend in to form a very informal haphazard display, all backed by a row of various buddleias along the southern boundary that continues along the adjoining pond garden, separated by a privet hedge.
It is a rambling, random blaze of colour - the vast majority of the plants being grown primarily for their nectar value. The list of plants is endless but includes: aubretia, Centaurea spp., cranesbill, dame's-violet, devil's-bit scabious, feverfew, foxglove, hebe, honesty, lavender, marigold, marjoram, red valerian, scabious, sedum, Verbena....
The informal design of the cottage garden blends in very well with the semi-wild nature of the rest of the garden.
This is by very nature of what it is, the part of the garden most in it's infancy, because all the trees that will eventually form this woodland garden have been planted as young saplings from 1997 onwards, as have the native hedgerows that form boundaries and divisions. These divisions are used to create 'rooms' with adjacent garden areas.
Woodland is what we miss most from our Derbyshire garden, because there we enjoyed a very old and mature woodland garden that was already established, being built around an orchard. Here, we are growing fruit trees in the adjacent fruit and veg garden, whilst here in the main woodland we have planted various mainly native trees: alder buckthorn, ash, beech, elder, elm (wych and English), field maple, hawthorn, hazel, holly, hornbeam, oak, rowan, silver birch, whitebeam, wild cherry, and others. A few other species are to be found in the other wooded area we are creating at the end of the pond garden (details in that section). Alas, in the last few years Dutch Elm Disease has made a reappearance and sadly has infected many of our elms.
On the southern edge, facing the house, is a dogwood copse. The northern boundary hedge comprises largely English elm with further other hedgerow trees filling the gaps, and a beech hedge helps divide the garden from the neighbouring veg garden.
The ‘hill’ in the NE corner of this garden was in fact the original dumping ground of all the dug out turf over the years when beds have been created. This alone is illustrative of the vast work involved. It is now home to a major rabbit warren , the animals becoming major pests in the veg garden as well as digging holes in the woodland garden and neighbouring meadow area.
As well as adding a totally different perspective to the garden (and providing much needed shady areas!) we have long term hopes with the woodland garden to encourage genuine woodland species of butterfly, as we have succeeded with the Speckled Wood . The White-letter Hairstreak, Purple Hairstreak and maybe even the White Admiral are on the target list!
Leading into the woodland garden along the top of the dyke bank is a long narrow grassland strip that we utilise as a 'flowering lawn' piece of meadow land that we can walk through at will. The area is mowed as normal but on a high cut allowing the wild flowers to bloom at a low height. Once the meadow plants are flowering, mowing becomes a lot more specialist, as I attempt to keep them low without damaging them. If carried out correctly, the effect is quite stunning and the grassland butterflies - particularly Skippers, Small Copper, Brown Argus and Common Blue - love it. Plants growing amongst the grasses include (in no particular order): bird's-foot trefoil, clover, black medick, cowslip, marjoram, dandelion, daisy, ribwort plantain, fox-and-cubs, mallow, yarrow, cat's-ear, buttercup, rough hawkbit, selfheal, and various others that come and go.
Note the low-growing privet hedge in the background - this is alive with butterflies during July.
So named in view of the large 70' x 30' pond as it's central feature. This was dug out by the previous owners but was not lined and did not hold the water during the summer months whilst the water table is low. It was lined during the summer of 2000 having first been slightly reduced in length, which has resulted in the reduced portion now being an adequate marshy area. Here bogbean, marsh marigolds, ragged-Robin, cuckoo flower, devil's-bit scabious (with Comma), purple loosestrife, greater bird's-foot trefoil and other moisture loving plants flourish.
The summer of 2007 was the wettest on record and the pond garden became a lake, resulting in great damage to the pond garden shrubs and trees and to the butterfly larvae, many of which drowned.
The irony of that summer was that the original liner had perished and again the pond did not hold its water! Since then it has had to virtually be redesigned and relined with a heavy duty butyl liner, and at the time of writing this in spring 2009 the pond area is still under major redevelopment.
Along the southern boundary of this garden is a row of various buddleias that continues the theme commenced in the cottage garden - a riot of colour, scent, and butterfly activity in high summer!
The eastern end of the pond garden is another area devoted to trees. Species here that are not found in the woodland garden are various willows, alder, wild privet, and spindle. The eastern end of the garden narrows towards the boundary, where it forms a triangular apex, an obvious end to this garden.... or so it seems - beyond this is a 'secret woodland walk' that cannot be seen until you reach the end: ideal territory for the Speckled Wood.
Frogs, toads, and newts have all found their own way into the pond, which boasts a good array of odonata: common blue, blue-tailed, large red, and banded demoiselle damselflies, and broad-bodied chaser, black darter, four-spotted chaser, common darter, and brown hawker dragonflies. The usual other insect wildlife associated with ponds is there in abundance.