An old watermill with a big pond at the front. The house is built into the side of a steep hill so the water then cascaded at maximum velocity through the building to power the mill wheel. Such are the strictures of modern life that few people like to have that volume of water rushing through their kitchens so the stream had been diverted through pipes and small ponds. The plan was to jazz up the planting, sort the water and add a bit of rhythm to the garden. In the best gardens you want options – to go out one door and come in another, to have a choice of paths depending on the season or your mood. Sometimes you want a slow ramble, other times you want to get to the washing line as quickly as possible.
Now the stream meanders through the lawn, the mill pond is crossed by a wooden walkway and the fences are made from taut steel wires so are virtually invisible while still remaining childproof. There are a couple of fields as well in which we have dug new ponds and planted many trees and swathes of wildflower – they are known as ‘the manky field’ and ‘the not so manky field’ as they used to be soggy, thick pelted weedy grazing.
I’ve been working on this garden for a long time, over a decade – long enough to see tiny trees become something that actually makes an impact on the landscape.. Initially there was lots to do with drawings to prepare, lists to make, contractors to organise and plants to order but now it has settled into a few visits a year and the occasional rejigging of the planting – nothing ever remains static so you have to keep an eye on things.