My garden is my passion, ever changing throughout the seasons.
The early spring brings the snowdrops, pulmonarias and hellebores, April and May are a haze of honesty, hesperis, cow parsley and alliums. In June and July the garden is filled with foxgloves, bellflowers and roses, nearly every old apple tree is clothed in ramblers, such as the highly scented Paul’s Himalayan Musk rose. August and September see the grasses, asters and salvias filling the borders, enhanced by cosmos and sweetly scented tobacco plants.
Wonderful seed-heads and the lingering smell of fennel takes the garden through October. Finally the winter months take on yet another look. Now the bones of the garden are on show, rustic arches and gates, flint walls and terraces and an architectural bridge over the pond. Attractive seed-pods and buff-coloured grasses are left, not only for the insects to shelter in but for the wonderful effects they give when covered in snow or hoar frost.
And then snowdrop time is here with the chance (once again!) to welcome people to my garden. Work in my garden will be forever ongoing – hurdles need replacing, stubborn weeds need attacking, etc. However, it will always be, I think, a very interesting garden, on several levels (with gentle steps and handrails) giving the feeling of a romantic, semi-wild garden. (It has been described as a wilderness paradise in the Yellow Book!)
I held a collection of Pulmonarias (lungworts) for The Hardy Plant Society and grew a large number of named plants as well as many self-seeders. The garden comes alive in spring when they are flowering, the nectar provides food for the adult bee and the pollen provides food for the young.
Other favourite nectar plants include salvias and their relatives, nepeta, phlomis, agastache, lavandula, also snowdrops, hellebores, foxgloves, ox-eye daisies, sedums, asters, hesperis, scabious, knautia, cardoons, teasels, buddleja, globe thistles, sea hollies, cosmos, nicotiana, bellflowers, hardy geraniums, red hot pokers, veronicastrums and of course, good old Verbena bonariensis!
In two south-facing areas a limestone mulch over membrane has been used to overcome dry sites, this has worked exceptionally well and means only newly planted treasures need to be watered.
The ‘Yellow Book’ description, written by an assistant county organiser a few years back still sums up the garden;
"Westcroft’s ⅔'s of an acre of wilderness paradise is much loved by wildlife but not excluding weeds! Enjoy a pond, sun-baked terraces, colour-themed herbaceous planting, naturalised chalk bank with orchids and climbing roses over old fruit trees. There are specialist displays of snowdrops, hellebores, pulmonarias, grasses and other unusual plants especially those rich in nectar."