Starting a garden in the old schoolmaster’s house. Covered in fluffy topped weeds like a snow field, the piles of uncut stone hide a dauntingly large block. Where to even begin. The only way to conquer my overwhelm is to divide it into different zones. Give areas titles that seem laughably ambitious in their current barren state. A rubbishy slope becomes “The Orchard”, a desolate patch of red clay ” The Badminton Lawn”. When cleared it’s a pitted landscape with a single bent apple tree. To fill it instantly with tall shady trees! But though gardening shares similarities with other design mediums- proportion, colour,scale – there is the presence of the fourth dimension – time. It teaches you patience.
The orchard planted early winter- with what looks like a pile of kindling- bare root stock. In the ground they look slender, almost see through- 3 years till they bear fruit. The names of the trees delicious to list: plum, nectarine, pear, quince (grows well in old goldfields), apples, mulberry, pomegranate, peach.
A cottage garden out the front. The soil’s better there- evidence of planting by others over the years; perhaps the old school teachers after their long day’s lessons. Some potatoes, artichokes, roses and herbs growing among the weeds. The first step; to cover the front garden with ochre coloured gravel. A harsh surface- a backdrop. I want tall flowers growing, ones that come up to my waist, so I feel like I’m swimming in them. Golden pinks, reds, purples. Derek Jarman rated gardens on house “shaggy” they were – Monet’s was the ‘shaggiest garden in the world’. I like the sound of that.