We had our first visit to a friend’s garden yesterday (thanks Friends, for tea and cake too!), having been put off until this time of year when the rhododendrons and azaleas would be in flower, and it was easy to see why. The garden was awash with the beauties, accompanied by an equally large troupe of camellias mostly past their best but not the exquisite ‘formal double’ example shown above. Even the more garish orange and yellow azaleas were toned down by the adjacent brilliantly cut acer and the space around them, the garden extending to about an acre in total.
Friend had never given any indication of the size of the plot, the only clue being an emailed picture of snowdrops adjacent to the drive, from which I suspected it was going to be an older property on a sizeable plot, which is exactly what it was. It has early Victorian origins but the best bit is that it was the house Friend grew up in, his father having bought it in the 1950s and developed the garden from an overgrown wilderness – so much of the established planting is 50 years old. Having become responsible for the house and garden only 5 years ago Friend admits to coming to gardening late, and is keen to expand his knowledge – and extend the season of the garden beyond this time of year, after which it reverts to ‘green’. What would I do if it was mine, I was inevitably asked? The only definite would be just that – extend the season with herbaceous perennials and utilise neglected shady areas with trouble-free shade lovers.
Did I suffer from garden envy? No, because my heart and soul are in my garden here at home, and I guess Friend’s roots are equally deep and he will never live anywhere else, trusting the plot will always remain in the family. I don’t know what will happen to our plot when the Golfer and I have shuffled off, but our ashes will be strewn in the garden so there will always be at least part of us here.