Following the book launch of the National Garden Scheme’s Gardens to Visit at the Royal Festival Hall last Thursday I decided to walk along the Thames, jump on a train at London Bridge and travel to North Dulwich. As I walked the 5 minutes down Half Moon Lane the sun came out and there was a feeling of Spring in my step.
The garden, situated behind an Edwardian-style house is just 150 ft x 40 ft, but from the terrace it looks so much bigger.
Rosemary and her husband have lived here for over thirty years, so the garden is well established. On the terrace there is every sort of container, pots, watering cans and old-fashioned sinks.
White Bergenia, blue rosemary and pink hellebore provide a welcome splash of Spring colour.
Rosemary is a botanical artist and there is definitely a touch of artistry in the garden. Positioned on the side wall, the iron stag’s head with antlers twisted into holly leaves has a good view.
Lawn, trees, topiary and euphorbias are combined to provide shape and form, a rich tapestry of green.
I take the path that runs down along the left side of the garden; in just the first few steps there is a delightful variety of shrubs.
The sunshine is pushing open the new leaves of this Photinia glabra, although not as red as the more commonly seen Photinia x fraseri ‘red robin’, it is a delightfully rounded evergreen.
A bee is really getting into this pretty camelia.
The squawk of a parakeet can be heard as it flies overhead, no doubt keeping his eye on the raised bird baths. The garden is cleverly divided, whilst remaining ‘open plan’. Divisions are not oppressive but subtle allowing the eye to see over or through. The lawn appears to squeeze through the line of rounded box balls,
and moves towards a fountain gently bubbling over the rim of the tall jar. Fritillaria gracefully grow from tubby twin pots placed at the corner of the paved surround.
Three mature apple trees grow in the centre of the garden; below this one is a daphne and the scent is a delight.
More box balls intermingle with shrubs and perennials, and the brick path behind brings you into a bricked area.
The mood changes with a medley of metallic containers; nothing is left unplanted. Even the tree in the centre is not as natural as you might think.
Opposite, the wave bench by Anthony Paul marks the gravel garden. Surrounded by wooden sleepers the idea of this dry area was inspired by the great Beth Chatto.
Up through the gravel grows this little gem; at first glance I think it is a crocus but on closer inspection I realise it is a tiny species tulip.
Carrying on down the path towards the end of the garden I look back at the skilfully pruned apple tree,
the prunings of which are used to line the woodbark path that leads across to the bug hotel at the end of the garden. The garden is open in three days time and Rosemary is concerned that it is nearly a month behind. She worries that some of the daffodils are tightly in bud,
but there are splashes of Spring, such as this Pulmonaria pushing up through the ivy,
and a pink patch of cyclamen.
Brilliant hellebores, pink, red and white are out all over the garden.
Plants are positively thriving here, the result of well worked soil, and there can be no doubt that compost bins are clearly an important ingredient in this garden.
In every inch of this garden there is so much variety, and returning along the opposite side of the garden is a cloud-pruned Phillyrea latifolia, its dark green glossy foliage so striking in the afternoon sun.
For a moment there is a strong scent of fox; it is a curious coincidence as from out of the border Charlie appears…
… he is in pursuit of the goose on the lawn.
This tender sculpture can’t bear to watch and ever so gently turns away.
Back just below the house there is a ‘plank of pots’ with the suggestion of an alpine collection.
Against the garage wall is a decoratively trained climbing rose, a sort of final swirl to this creative garden.
I am itching to return home to pick up my secateurs but before I leave I am amused at the idea that these happy plants have moved to the windowsill to gain a better view of this delightful garden.
The weather forecast for the weekend is not great but this should not prevent an enjoyable visit to this treasure of a garden. Keep calm and visit a garden.