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A Portfolio of some of my work . . .
A herb garden created in Bramley
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Before . . .
. . . After
A Godalming garden on my first visit . . .
. . . and three months after I left
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Godalming Museum Garden - based on a design by Gertrude Jekyll.
Godalming Museum is situated on the High Street opposite the Pepperpot and is well worth a visit
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Transforming a very small garden
The groundwork
is done
The first season
after planting
A garden
transformed
A detail of
the new garden
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Charterhouse School

A good deal of research was required to establish a new historical border celebrating the school's move from London to Godalming in 1872. All the plants used would have been available in England in 1872.

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The creation of a Godalming garden
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Before . . .
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. . . and after
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A difficult, untidy and overgrown slope . . . .
. . . . was terraced into a place of beauty and colour
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A city front garden
Before . . . .
. . . . . and shortly after planting.
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And now for something personal . . .

I have made just two gardens of my own over the last 23 years. Here is a description of the first.

GODALMING RECTORY

Godalming Rectory garden was where I learned to garden. Before then I knew as little as it was possible to know about growing plants. Why did this happen? I think it was a combination of timing, unhappiness and opportunity. My husband and I and our three daughters moved from a rambling Edwardian rectory, with a large garden (which my husband looked after) overlooking fields and woods into a brand new, still unfinished house in the middle of Godalming, overlooked by the railway station above us, and the public footpath only a few feet from the house windows. I found this lack of privacy distressing, found living in the middle of a town noisy and claustrophobic and missed the space and openness of my previous home. My mother had suddenly died a few months previously and I was in a state of bereavement about this and also the leaving of a home and community where I had been completely contented. My younger daughters, the twins, started school for the first time a week after we moved, and life as I had known it disappeared. Although I gave the impression that all was well inside I felt black.

There was no garden at that stage, just a building site, complete with workmen's prefabricated buildings. The site had potential, though I could not see this at the time. It was three quarters walled, had a stream running through it, and across the public footpath there was an acre of wild woodland, for which we were responsible. The house itself was beautiful, Georgian in design, with high ceilings and sash windows; the site was in a conservation area so the planners had insisted on a house which looked as though it had been built in a previous era.

Once the prefabricated buildings in the garden had gone I realized that I needed to make a garden to help me bond with the property. The diocese had arranged for a lawn to be laid and some planting in the borders. One of the congregation was an elderly lady who was about to give up her home for a council development and move into sheltered accommodation. Every few days she would walk down to my house with plants from her garden in plastic bags, which I would plant in the beds in front of the walls. I had no idea what any of the plants were and put most of them in unsuitable places - Alchemilla at the back of the border, tall Asters and Solidago at the front, but the soil was good, rich and loamy, and everything flourished. I was hooked and gardening became my passion. Over the following autumn I moved plants to more suitable places, read widely, and sought advice from gardening friends, many of whom were very generous in providing plants from their gardens. I covered the walls with climbing roses, made deep borders filled with shrubs and perennials, and planted the river banks.
I embarked on various short horticultural courses, eventually deciding to change career, and went to study at a horticultural college before setting up in business as a garden advisor.

The garden was my healer. As I plunged my hands into the rich earth I connected not only with this particular garden but also with something larger, a love of the earth which made me feel rooted and grounded. I tended this garden for sixteen years, and even now I can picture every part of it, and every plant. It was the backdrop to a what became a very happy time, with the garden playing an important part in family celebrations, and through it I came to love my new life in Godalming, which I left eventually with sadness and gratitude when we moved to Norfolk in 2009. This garden had taught me so much, and not just about gardening.
Life in Norfolk had new challenges. Coming home from planting out gardens in Surrey six months after I moved here I was involved in a head on collision, caused by the driver coming towards me falling asleep at the wheel. The injuries were extensive and I was not expected to survive, but thanks to wonderful medical staff and the love and care of my husband and children I did. The recovery period was long and frustrating, but what helped me through was planning the new garden I was about to make. The site could not have been more different from the Godalming one -dry, exposed and windswept. This time I knew I wanted to include in the garden a potager, which I did, thanks to the hard slog of my amazing husband, who erected rustic trellises and arches, ripped out unwanted trees and shrubs, dug over heavy clay soil, erected a greenhouse and edged the vegetable beds with bricks. The Godalming garden had taught me about growing ornamentals and the Norfolk garden opened my eyes to the growing of herbs, fruit and vegetables.

Once more a garden healed me, both physically as I built up my strength, and also emotionally, as it had done before, sixteen years previously.
For details of the Norfolk garden, see the following section. . . .
A Norfolk garden transformed
This rural Norfolk garden provided plenty of challenges. Situated in a very exposed situation, battered by winds from all sides, with heavy clay soil, and in common with most the rest of East Anglia receiving very little rain it had virtually no horticultural advantages. The garden had been planted when the house was built about 20 years before, and many of the shrubs were now too large for their position. In the beds in front of the house they completely hid the windows.
Most of the shrubs were removed and masses of organic matter added to the heavy clay soil. In the beds around the north facing front of the house primarily evergreens were chosen for year round interest. The beds were deep, but all the planting had to be below window height, and so prostrate trailing plants were planted round the bed edge, building up to taller plants, but still below window height, and on the walls either side of the windows Pyracantha were planted for wall training.
BEFORE AFTER
The bed down the side of the house was cleared of the variegated dogwood and planted with mostly winter interest shrubs and spring flowering perennials with Fuchsias and Hydrangeas for mid to late summer.
BEFORE AFTER
A section of the back garden was screened off with a trellis for climbing roses and Clematis, and a potager made. Various tall trees on the boundary between the garden and the field beyond had to be removed to allow this area to receive sun all day, and seven vegetable beds edged with brick were made. Each bed is edged with herbs or low growing insect- attracting flowers, and has a central wigwam for climbing French beans, Gem squash, and sweet peas. Vegetables and flowers for cutting for the house are rotated each year between these beds, although there is a permanent planting of soft fruit and rhubarb. Flowers are added to all the beds to attract pollinators and beneficial insects as the potager is run on organic lines.
BEFORE AFTER
There had not been a bed along the fence which marked the boundary between the garden and the field beyond, which was not surprising as this was a very difficult area for plants to establish, being very windy, and hot and dry, apart from around the large tree, where there were dry shade conditions. A bed was made all the way long the fence, linking the new trellis to the existing island bed at the far end of the garden. Plants for this bed had to be drought tolerant and wind resistant, and it was important that they should where possible relate visually to the field beyond. Thus several grasses were included, and plants which were related to wild flowers.
BEFORE AFTER
BEFORE
AFTER
At the far end of the garden was an annexe, from which the main garden was screened by a hedge of weeping beech. This was removed, and trellis and an arch erected into the entrance to the small garden at the rear of this building.
AFTER
BEFORE
Roses on new trellis
The heavy clay soil of the garden was suited to roses, and climbing roses were introduced in several places.
To the side of the house was a gravelled area screened from the main garden by a group of tall shrubs opposite the garage wall. This was converted into a courtyard garden, ideal for al fresco dining, being the only area protected from the wind. Trellis with the climber Akebia quinata was erected to enclose the area further, climbers added to the walls, and architectural and foliage plants grown in large containers, with Hydrangeas and Agapanthus for summer flowers. Centranthus was allowed to self seed in the gravel along the garage wall and these provided flowers all summer.
Detail of various beds
Cut flowers growing in the Potager The front bed
Roses The Potager
Pots and Roses Peony
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