Returning home from Nottinghamshire following a lovely post-wedding lunch I could not resist popping through the open garden gate in the village of Sutton-on-Trent 8 miles north of Newark.
Just as I arrived there was a cloudburst and conveniently by the entrance was a greenhouse where I hastily took shelter. Here there was a small display showing pictures of the development of the site. It is always so interesting to be able to marvel at the before and after.
Kathryn and Ian have owned the plot for over 30 years; originally living in the next door house they have built the bungalow and reawakened the garden in the past five years.
A long wooden pergola connects the gate to the bungalow, running alongside the windowless side of the building.
Clad in virginia creeper parthenocissus quinquefolia, planted just two years ago,the structure and the path take a right angle turn towards the front door.
The word pergola is from the latin pergula and refers to a projecting eave; here it is exactly that. It is interesting to think that the building of pergolas has been going on for thousands of years; used by garden makers of the Egyptians and Romans, it was revived during the Renaissance period and then many years later became much beloved by the Edwardians; constructed in different materials, pergolas have really stood the test of time. When did they first appear in England? Well, it was the diarist and great garden visitor John Evelyn who mentioned the word ‘pergola’ in 1645 when he described the cloister of Trinita dei Monti in Rome. He then uses the word in an English context some years later in 1654 when he writes of a ‘pergola’ built by the fifth Earl of Pembroke.
Looking left out from this pergola through a riot of colour, we can see the top pond, dug out in 2015; it is looks as if it has always been there.
The statuesque Angelica gigas, and the dahlia ‘Honka Fragile’ mingle with bright orange crocosmia,
and amongst is exotic green Giant Pineapple lily eucomis pole-evansii.
I have encountered amongst some gardeners a slight snobbery about planting yellow, an attitude that I have not really understood. Here garden owner Kathryn loves the brightness of the colour and the flat heads of achillea look very effective against the big red leaves of the banana.
If you dig out a pond the spoil has to be put somewhere, so drifts are spread under the mature trees which makes for a pleasing undulation,
and a mound of spoil at the bottom of the garden makes a raised bed planted up with shade loving plants.
This quirky head close by appears to echo the same tilt of the border.
It is not hedges that divide the different areas but lively borders filled with generous plantings varying from herbaceous to tropical.
The golden oat stipa gigantea is a perfect punctuation for the corner of the house.
A succession of ponds glide down through the garden with a bridge adding structural focus to the lowest and final pond.
Moving on round the garden I find heads venerably bowed at the entrance of the woodland walk,
where wood chip paths guide you right around the back of the property; cool and shaded, it is a complete contrast to the front garden.
Tree ferns dicksonia antartica command a presence in the fernery where there are 65 different types of fern.
There is nothing more pleasing than a neatly arranged wood stack just waiting for those winter fires.
The path leads to a garden house positioned in the corner of the plot, acting like a pivot sending the path off to the right.
Looking back you can see that the tree canopy has been raised here and the dapple shade allows for a few acers to grow.
A face in stone seems content in catching the sunlight,
and I find myself back at the beginning. The mown lawn separates the wooded perimeter from the rich planted borders against the walls of the bungalow and together they gently swirl around the property. The building is grounded well into the garden and it is hard to believe that just five years ago much of this would not have been here.
The garden gate is closing now so I must retreat back along the tedious A17. This was the second garden that I have visited in Nottinghamshire, a county that enjoys some 58 opening for the NGS; I am sure that I will return.