Over the years we have developed the garden little by little, as time and finances allowed. The house and garden are surrounded by fields and our first (hard!) lesson was to learn to cope with the voracious rabbit population that love our sandy soil. Plants were decimated overnight. Enclosures of rabbit wire went up - unsightly but necessary. That was a factor in the shaping of the garden - we would wire off a section at a time, design and plant, and then move onto the next section. This has resulted in a sequence of interlinking rooms; not a conscious design decision, but it has worked well in the long run. Plenty of yew hedges went in to give the garden much needed protection from the wind, and we are realising the benefit of the wonderful winter structure now that the hedges are maturing. Yew is conventionally thought of as slow growing, but we have found that it only takes a few years to make a marvellous hedge. It is also a wonderful roosting and nesting place for the birds.
Ponds too, have played a major part in encouraging wildlife into the garden. The first pond we made was a formal design, populated with goldfish and surrounded by seating for open garden days. I was surpirsed last autumn while fishing out pondweed, to find a beautiful toad in the net! In the orchard, we made a wildlife pond, containing no fish, but plenty of native oxygenating plants, and encompassed by a border planted with nectar rich plants, for butterflies and insects, the most successful of these being Persicaria, Lythrum and Nepeta.
Pictured left is the Wild Flower Meadow, which was sown in the field to the south of the house two years ago. It is an ongoing project which last year was a sea of daisies, with sorrel, plantain, ragged robin, clover and vetch to name a few. Hopefully as it establishes, the vigorous daisies will lessen as the slower- to -establish perennials grow stronger. We mow paths through and as the site is on the top of a hill, the views are wonderful - a great place for a picnic!