Tuesday 19 July 2011

The Garden

Time to to take a break and have a cup of coffee
Living on land that was once a Roman camp, we are surrounded by dry stone walls, beyond which is part of a prehistory ditch.  We entertained the thought that we might find buried ancient artifacts in our garden. 
When we moved here, the garden was a blank canvas with lawns and mature trees. However, once we started digging, the idea of discovering anything soon became short lived.  As soon as we put a spade in the ground, we hit oolitic limestone and fossils. We had barely 10cm of soil, and no idea how we could establish any shrubs in such shallow earth. 
We decided to visit the internationally renowned gardens of the late Rosemary Verey at Barnsley House. She was a gardening guru to Prince Charles at the time that he was laying out the gardens at Highgrove House. On arrival at Barnsley House we had the garden to ourselves, but soon came across Rosemary tending the borders. H mentioned to her our problems with so little soil on top of limestone, and her reply was “go through it with a pick axe, my dears, make a large hole and fill it with compost”.  She then proceeded to take us to her huge pile of compost, invited us to come at any time, fill our bags full of it and take it back to our home. H duly bought himself a very large steel chisel, which he painstakingly hammered into the ground, in order to carry out Rosemary’s instructions.
We split the garden up into rooms, being the catch phrase at the time, but we have actually found it easier to work with separate areas, all of which have been given a different theme. Most of the things that we have planted have flourished really well, and now after 15 years the garden feels well established.
Walled garden with pool
Lilium African Queen Group

Lilium Regale


  1. Hello Rosemary:
    Sound advice indeed. RV was a canny old bird and Barnsley House in its heyday was certainly a portfolio of ideas for anyone wishing to create the quintessential English garden.

    The pictures of your garden look so attractive. As you say, it does have a mature feel and how wonderful to see everything flourishing. We do hope that we shall be treated to more views of your 'garden rooms'.

  2. Jane and Lance - you have summed-up RV perfectly. However, her haughty manner belied her inherent kindness. More views of the garden will follow in due course.

  3. Your walled garden is beautiful, and I particulalry like the way you topped off the wall — looks as though its been there for eons.

  4. Thank you Mark - this method of topping off a wall is known locally as "cocks and hens".

  5. I'm really loving your garden! I do have one of RV's publications on my bookshelf, The Garden in Winter. x

  6. Thank you so much 'this is my patch'. We thought it very sad that RV's family sold her beautiful home and garden shortly after she died. It is now a very upmarket hotel, mainly frequented by celebrities.

  7. So glad the pick ax worked. Your garden is beautiful :)


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