Although we have lived at The Homestead since 1969, it wasn’t until 1990 when our sons stopped using the lawn as a football pitch, we decided we had more time to dedicate to gardening. At this time our garden was approximately one quarter of an acre and mainly lawn with a few trees, shrubs and a small vegetable plot. Over the years we have extended the garden as we have introduced new features and different planted areas.
In the summer of 1991 we dug a large pond allowing us the opportunity to keep Koi carp and attract different forms of wildlife including mallard, nesting moorhens and ‘our friend’, the heron! The west bed was planted with predominantly shrubs backed by a hedge and trees to break up the prevailing winds. Between 1992 and 1994, we continued with more planting and built up a windbreak along the southern boundary of more trees and shrubs. The summer of 1995 saw our construction of an arbour and paved seating area, framed by climbing roses. A new hedge was planted along the north-east boundary with further trees and under planting. By now the garden had grown to about three-quaters of an acre.
As the garden evolved, we introduced a dry ditch, a rock garden backing the pond and a bridge over the ditch. The area around the ditch now provides a woodland environment for hostas, astilbes and ferns. We wanted to introduce more formal structure and a lime walk was planted, one the items on our wish list! Five pleached limes either side of a grass path looked rather strange in the middle of the garden, but it has now matured with beds introduced down either side and it now leads on to our next new structure – the barn.
The barn at the bottom of our drive, once housed young cows in the winter months, but in the great storm of 1987 it blew down. In 1999 we decided to rebuild it ourselves and with the help of a bricklayer to make good the brick base wall and the advice of a local craftsmen, the barm was restored. The next item on our wish list was a walled garden, so after we removed over 40 tons of rubble our mini-walled garden was formed and now contains a small vegetable and herb garden, soft fruit and trained fruit trees.
Our garden now extended right down to the barn and the area between the lime walk and the drive proved the ideal size for a tennis court. We constructed this ourselves with the help of a rotavator, much raking, levelling and rolling and finally the turfing – it is not quite Wimbledon standard but provides a facility enjoyed by all the family. It has now been enhanced with a low wall and narrow, alpine bed on the north side and box hedges to the east and west.
A woodland walk was introduced in 2004, another different type of area that we have often admired in other gardens. It is very much a spring garden with bulbs, hellebores and pulmonarias but there is still a lot of interest in summer and autumn and is home to many different ferns, euphorbias and shade loving plants. Another of our own designs and constuctions is the gazebo, a favourite place to sit and watch the pond from a distance in the late evening. Slowly, rising from the ground, is a folly, designed and built by Stan, a little is added each year and you have to return to see how it has grown and what new features have been added!