An old (and mildly disreputable) friend of mine called me out of the blue a couple of years ago. He had developed a house from a barn and it surrounded an old farmyard that had led a number of lives – as a cattle yard, as lawn, as a sort of wildflower area and now as a weedy quadrangle between house and some handsome Gloucestershire fields.
The solution was to make a gravel garden – something that I have done before and thoroughly enjoy. Before starting we made some cobblestone paths across and through the yard with a large central area so you could sit in the middle of the planting. My friend is in a wheelchair so needed something a bit more solid than gravel.
Once the paths were laid we planted lots of stuff – I say that very airily but it was hard digging and there was a lot of inconvenient rubble to go through. The chaps for Cotswold Estate Services persevered – although I am pretty sure that the designer’s name was mud for a few days as they nursed their aching backs and jarred elbows. The weeds came back with a vengeance but with more effort they were knocked into order and another team arrived to plant many hundreds of bulbs.
All that work paid off and we now have a fine, flower filled garden which is, as he grudgingly admits, much more attractive than its owner!
Since then it has featured in three magazine articles: Country Life (written by Tiffany Daneff) and The English Garden (by Petra Hoyer Millar) and Gardens Illustrated (by Natasha Goodfellow).
Photographs by Claire Takacs