Our garden is now 17 years old and when we first moved here it was a very neglected site over grown with bramble and weeds. Our first task was to clear the ground and establish the basic framework. This took considerably longer than first envisaged. We had chosen this site because of its wealth of established trees including oak, birch and the large yew and pine trees that still dominate the garden. We have since planted over 40 additional trees in the rear garden. We certainly underestimated the challange that the trees would present, particularly in view of the large pond we created and the number of shade tolerant plants we needed to source.

The original concept was to create an informal woodland garden to relax in and to share with both family and friends. The paths are just wide enough for two people to walk together through the garden and to enjoy the sight and scent of the flora.

The garden is the largest room of our house and we decided to divide it into a number of smaller rooms. The journey around our garden will take you via a formal parterre and terrace, through the west facing pergola to the Folly, a stumpery, past the lower pond to the conifer border. Walking through the east pergola will bring you back to the lawn with a west facing view of the pond and The Secret's circle. 

The initial planting scheme was established incorporating some of the shrubs and flowers we had admired on our travels. However, in the early days we were very naive and it soon became apparent that one needs to understand the detail of a garden to evaluate what will thrive and earn its place, or what plants will at best just survive. Thus began our steep and rapid learning curve that will probably continue throughout the rest of our gardening lives.

As confirmed 'plant-a-holics', we have become devoted to our garden over the years. It has been hard work but very rewarding. There is still so much to do but with help and advice we are continuing to progress with increasing confidence throughout each season. We often remind ourselves that "success is a journey and not a destination." The same motto applies to a garden.    


Seasons

From season to season our garden chances its beauty in many different and magical ways.

We have a mature, half acre largely north facing woodland garden with year round colour and interest:- 

Winter - The garden is a magical space with the gleaming white stems of birch trees, the scent and colour of hamamelis, sarcococca and carpets of snowdrops. The first rhododendrons begin flowering along with cyclamen and crocus at the end of the season.

Spring - At its most radiant and colourful now when rhododendrons and azaleas begin flowering in earnest along with many of the clematis. Roses are in bud although Rosa Banksiae Lutea is normally in full bloom in the front garden along with the wisterias. Digitalis is in flower wherever they have seeded and clumps of bluebells appear under trees and shrubs. The acers are a delight and new growth abounds everywhere.

Summer - The roses and herbaceous perennials are beautiful and the garden's evergreen structure is lush. Gunnera leaves cast shade over the pond and the aquatic plants are spreading out over the water. A few of the late flowering rhododendrons are also stars of this season. We look forward to long sunny, summer nights sitting in the garden until dusk. Here's hoping!

Autumn - The acers turn colour now and are a magnificent sight. As the light levels are fading, the burnt copper, reds, yellows and oranges colour the landscape of the garden. The hips of Rosa Rugosa and gelder rose are splendid.