Wickets, Upper Langley in Essex was the only private garden to be open for the NGS in East Anglia last Sunday. I was fortunate to be able to bowl along and have a sneak preview the day before. It was yet another of those steely grey days.
At a time when most of us are only just emerging into our gardens, Doug and Sue were way ahead of the game and had the place ship shape and ready for the Spring invasion. The garden gate was really wide open:
The soft green grass, trunks of silver birch and a show of daffodils drew us in. Growing near the entrance by a small log pile were these charming cowslips .
Several years ago Doug and Sue added to their garden by buying a piece of land. Sue’s mother was not in favour of the purchase but like all good children they took no notice, naming the area in her memory.
Bessie if she was still around, would I am sure admire what has been created here. This is the area designed for fun; eating, harvesting and chilling. The large table (there are children and grandchildren), is tucked in beside the small parterre.
A variety of planters surround the gravel space and this pleasingly shaped terracotta pot stands in the corner.
Espaliered apples surround the parterre and fruit cage combining ornament with production. These adirondack chairs beckon you to sit, but do Sue & Doug have the time?
The view looks out across the Essex countryside to the far off long-distance footpath of the Harcamlow Way.
There is actually a footpath which runs diagonally across Bessie’s End. Instead of ignoring it, or even trying to divert it, a hawthorn hedge has been planted accentuating angle and length. It is a path which is seldom taken. Perhaps for many walkers it might seem an intrusion.
Why bother with walking when there is a Shepherd Hut to sit and read in.
Wickets is divided into three sections and so leaving Bessie’s End we move into the informal meadow area which is dominated by the pond.
A group of pines, cleverly planted provide a welcome touch of evergreen without blocking the view.
Hermes or rather Herpes, as Doug calls him, looks downcast while he waits for the summer months. There are all sorts of characters who live in this garden.
A stoney Owl peers across at the penned-in cockerel and his hens.
Mad March hares are boxing in the border.
By the house stands this little lady. An air of charm under that hat, she sounds just lovely.
An ancient face is pinned against the wall of the house. What better way to use this black grass ophiopogon planiscapus.
While this person seems wrapped up in thought. Doug says its George but surely it is Georgina?
The third part of the garden surrounds the house; a more intimate space with great attention to detail. It is evident that Sue trained as a garden designer. How different it will all look in May when the garden opens again.
Beds curve around the lawn. All year round planting provide dabs of colour and delicious scents. The hedge running along the back divides but does not dominate, allowing glimpses over into the pond garden.
There are lots of interesting features such as the redundant barbeque.
A mirror on the fence cunningly reflects and broadens the space.
A Pergola attached to the house, covered with roses gives height and frames the pots of tulips and the imaginative bird table.
There is a place to pause and be on your own.
Daffodils cunningly hide a recent mole run.
There is plenty of brightness now.
and it is not all yellow
Sweet violets grow prettily amongst the shingle.
A leafy stepping stone embedded in the dark earth allows me to hop over to the border.
I can’t help but covet the glass house and it is this rather than the main house, that seems to have the greatest presence in the garden. Seen from various angles either beyond the clipped silver pear pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’.
Or over the hawthorn hedge and through the silver birch.
Further away across the reflecting water
It is a very pleasing design and beautifully made. A Griffin Glasshouse, and the NGS receives a small percentage of the sale of every glasshouse in the NGS range.
It is a joy inside, a welcome relief from the wretched rain.
The weather does not bode well for tomorrow’s open day. Visitor numbers are unpredictable especially at this time of year. Doug has already made the soup and we leave Sue baking in the kitchen; the smell of fresh home-made cake will surely help to bring the people in to this engaging garden.