This garden comes into its own in spring; although we have greatly extended the flowering period and there is interest all through the year, in spring it looks amazing! There are snowdrops everywhere and the hellebores, one of my favourites, are gorgeous. Dark ones and pales ones – pinks, purples, creams and yellows – some with freckled faces and others plain, just lovely. Already the firm bumps of the new ferns are inching upwards, ready at any moment to unfurl like bright green sails and so too, fragile little anemone blanda patiently waiting their turn.
A true country garden is a beautiful thing, but often it’s shared with many others and not just humans. Having several acres, part of which is SSSI and backing onto untamed Mod land, this garden is the playground of sika deer, badgers, squirrels, grass snakes and an abundance of bird-life, all of which had to be taken into account when re-designing the garden.
The deer are a delight to see but do the most damage, fortunately the owner loves box (Buxus sempervirens), it is truly deer proof and we have used much of it in a variety of shapes and sizes: cubes, pyramids, onions, spheres, low edging around the herb garden and taller hedging to separate the parking areas. When really hungry, or just if the fancy takes it, a deer will eat almost any plant but in addition to those mentioned, we have had continued success with what we have found to be these truly deer-proof plants:
box, daphne, bay, mahonia, choisya, euphorbia, broom, phlomis, penstemon, lavender, most herbs, allium, pachysandra, bluebells, agapanthus, teuchrium, dicentra, winter jasmine, brunnera, sweet woodruff, fennel, blue cammasia (they eat the bulbs of the white ones) salvia, perovskia, ornamental grasses.
The client is a keen and excellent cook and the herb garden with its striking bay tree centre-piece, supplies fresh herbs for the kitchen, as well as being a focal point for the terrace. To date, the deer have not added herbs to their own cullinary delights!