Connecting the Knot Garden to the Patio

For some time we had wanted to connect the Knot Garden to the Patio.  It seemed too remote with its only access being further up the path.

The problem was that the hedge between the two was in Thuja and notoriously a mature Thuja hedge does not grow back well after being cut into.  It seemed to be a real problem.

Then a Chelsea Garden Designer made a brilliant suggestion.  He said that we should cut a much larger gap in the Thuja hedge and then plant four Yew trees on the insides.  The Yew trees could then be trimmed as straight vertical 'frames' to create an entrance and in time they would also grow back and merge with the Thuja, hiding the bare branches where it had been cut.  

We created the gap and planted four large Yews.  We think it will take them three years or so to get to the top.

This what it looks like four months after planting.  We particularly like the new path and the view into the Knot Garden, which makes it much more a part of the whole.

The New Water Feature

Having made the pond into a Bog Garden in 2004 (see below) we lost the sound of water.

By 2014 all our grandchildren were older and could actually swim better than us!  And we missed the sound of water in the garden.  So we decided to build a more vertical Water Feature to create the sound and movement that we wanted.

First we had to remove the Green Bambood shoots that had so successfully established themselves in the location on the South side of the Garden, behind the Bog Garden.  Green Bamboo has the toughest roots and rhizomes that you can imagine.  I attacked it with a new sharpened mattock and even that seemed to bounce off. I even resorted to a Japanes war cry with every stroke.

Bit by bit the roots came out and eventually, after weeks, it was done.  The empty space looked like this:

Our brilliant designer brought in 8 tonnes of Scottish and Irish Granite and created a vertical water feature that fitted perfectly into the space and chimed well with the original bog garden.

To us it feels already mature and yet it has only just been created.  So it will mature and blend in further.

There are two streams.  The left one falls directly down over granite steps into the pool.  The right hand one falls in two stages, first into a secondary pool and then onto a naturally shaped granite boulder.

A great variety of ferns are planted around and in the granite pockets.  The sound of water is significant yet peaceful.  

We decided against fish in the pond, mainly because of the local Heron.  But we are hoping for frogs.   Increasingly birds come to wash in the gentle currents and bees take water back to their hives.

For us the ten year wait has been worthwhile


Prior History and Development of the Garden

We bought our house in 1973 and both it and the garden were completely dilapidated, as can be seen from the images below.  We were strongly advised not to buy it but we did because we fell in love with the location and environment and we were excited by the potential.

Apart from demolishing the hideous 'granny' flat on the side, the first thing we did was to plant the Yew hedges. 

Over the years we have developed different parts of the garden.

Sunken Garden

At the front of the house there had been a lawn, so small and irregular that it wasn't possible to mow it properly.  We decided to pave it over but the idea of creating a sunken garden added a further dimension.  We left big holes between the York stone and planted grasses for interest.  Along the edge of the long steps we planted two levels of Cotoneater horizontalis "Queen of Carpets" .  These aresss wonderfully dense and prostrate and they hug the edges of the steps perfectly.  Then we noticed that they were creeping along the cracks between the paving stones in the sunken area.  Rather than take them out, we thought that this was a great idea.  So we took cuttings and have planted them in cracks all over the sunken garden.  It will take a few years!


Pond and Bog Garden

We wanted to have water in the garden and in 2004 we asked a friend to design something for us.  He came up with a circular pond with granite sets round it and water flowing smoothly over a slate ledge.  A special feature was a curved bridge leading from the Family Room into the garden.  After a great deal of digging and concreting and waterproofing it was finally in place.

Then our first grandchild arrived and we knew that we couldn't have open water, particularly with a bridge over it for children to run on.  The alternatives were to put heavy mesh over it - but that would have been ugly and impractical or surround it with a fence, which would have been worse.

So we punched holes in the concrete base and filled it with 8 cubic metres of gravel and compost and made it into a Bog Garden.  We think it is better as a bog garden than when it was a pond and the curved bridge has given endless fascination to the children running back and forth over it.

But now see above about our new Water Feature......

A North Facing Conservatory

When we bought the house we wanted to build a conservatory.  But the only wall where this would have been possible was North facing (where the ugly granny flat had been).  Every book we read said that you could have a South facing conservatory or one facing East or West - but never North.  And that was conventional wisdom.

Until I found a wonderful book called Hardy Ferns by Reginald Kaye which set out the great advantages of North Facing Conservatories.  So we built it and, as long as there is plenty of open space for light I would say that this is the best aspect.  It never needs shading or damping down.  The plants thrive and never burn.  On the side wall we grow "climbing" geraniums and we are often asked where to get them from.  But they are really trailing geraniums and they climb because there is a set of wires a few inches from the wall.  if they grow behind the wires they climb and when they miss the wires they cascade. They love the North facing aspect.

The Pergola

We had a small vegetable patch on the North side of the garden but we wanted somewhere to sit and enjoy the view.

So our friend desgned a large brick pillared pergola for us which has been been very successful.  It is covered by a Sanders White rambling rose which provides just the right amount of dappled shade.  Clematis cover the pillars.

Later, in front of the pergola we planted two yew pillars, rather modelled on the beautiful line of the ones at Ham House.  When we planted them they were just 2 ft cones and they have now grown into 9 ft slender pillars.  Their great attraction is that they add structure and create a frame for the view of the garden.


Structures and Hedges

The first thing we did was to plant a 'U' shaped hedge outside the back door.  This has created a space for simple planting round the statue with white Triumphator Tulips in the Spring and Brugmansia (Angel's Trumpets) in the Summer.

The Knot Garden

We had a part of the garden near the back gate where nothing grew particularly well.  This was mainly due to the overhanging branches of a large Sycaamore Tree.

I had always been fascinated by the concept of knot gardens and so we decided to create one there.  Our daughter Kate designed it and with a few practical modifications we planted it out with Buxus sempervirens, Buxus 'Green Mountain' and Buxus 'Elegantissimum Var', for contrast.  As soon as we had planted it we realised that we should have put down a weed membrane so we had to lay one down, cutting holes for each plant.  The second night a fox came and dug a large hole in it.  He repeated it the second night.  So we had to lay down galvanised mesh and cut individual holes in that too.  So this is probably the best protected knot garden in the country.

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