I first saw it as a concrete yard surrounded by tumbledown buildings and populated with weeds, rats and a flock of starlings. Over the next eighteen months or so we built a house and saw it finished just in time for my younger son to be born in our bedroom. We then promptly ran out of available money so the garden hung in limbo for a bit while the children played in mud and fell over bits of jutting rubble.
Eventually the nettle had to be grasped and we began to make a garden.
It was never formally designed but has emerged from a mixture of circumstance and suggestion. The most obvious feature are the sculptural beech columns that are arranged in uneven lines across the lawn. I did this because an expanse of unbroken lawn is quite dull but also because they made excellent goalposts.
Around the lawn are lots and lots of plants in great tumbling waves around a small ornamental pond (which was once brick but was reinvented as a more modernist confection made from metal towers), a vegetable garden, terraces, gravel gardens, steps and a spur of the moment invention called the grass snake.
The story was that I acquired a load of decent topsoil and was loath to put it in skips so transported it home. I then drove a dumper truck across a corner of the lawn in a wavy line and filled the space in between the tyre ruts with soil. Behold a snake shaped mound which gave a different view of the surrounding plantings. We then planted the sides with grasses – hence, grass snake.
Twenty years is a long time in a garden. It is a garden that has been the background, and sometimes, the foreground of my life. Lots of stories, lots of sunny afternoons, cavorting puppies, frolicking children and many days spent head down in flower beds.
We miss it a lot but life moves on and the most exciting project is always the next one…
Some pictures by the elfin Rachel Warne