It has been a very long time since I last posted a blog. Naturally, there is a part of me that feels it would be best to wipe the slate clean and start with a whole new blog page. However, everything that leads us to where we are today is all part of the journey. We may not end up quite where we expected, but that adds to the mystique of life. If we always knew how things were going to turn out, would we even bother getting up in the morning? Part of what drives us is the element of not quite knowing whether your efforts will be rewarded or perhaps hampered, if by going on journey A you will necessarily end up at destination B. Sometimes you have to make a little detour, which may mean you get distracted from your original plans and rather than end up at B you now find yourself at C. And so it goes on, with every chapter in your life forcing you to slightly adjust your plans, hopes and aspirations.
And that more or less explains my lack of blogs and the need for me to change my content going forward. Whilst my love of nutrition and a life which embraces organic wholefood is still very much alive, a change in lifestyle has meant that I have suspended my studies for a year to quite simply, take breath.
As a family we made the ambitious decision to relocate to the coast last year. A move that also required us to embrace a rather extensive and ongoing refurbishment project along with the renovation of 1.6 acres of neglected gardens. After 9 months of trying to juggle all of that along with studying, clearly something was going to have to give. Never one to sit on my laurels for long, I have taken a good hard look at what I do need to focus on and have signed up to start my RHS Level 2 horticulture course at the Beth Chatto Gardens this coming September. I will also be writing the gardening column for East Life Magazine. So yes, a slight detour, but one that very much feels right.
The gardens in our new home are very special indeed and have captivated both my husband and I. Designed in 1935 by Percy Cane, they feature steps leading down to a terraced rose garden enclosed within yew hedging consisting of some 83 yews. The rose garden can be accessed from 4 different entrances at various points in the garden. When we moved in the yew hedging itself was standing at roughly 30 feet high meaning the terracing was in complete and permanent shade allowing treacherous moss to cover the paths. Back in January we reduced all of the yews to 6 inch stumps in an attempt to create some lush new growth from the stumps which could then be shaped into a manageable yew hedge of 4-5 feet in height, just as Percy designed it. Some 8 months on and the yews are showing great bursts of new life with just 7 remaining in a dormant state.
Another significant part of the project will be the relaying and repointing of all the terracing and steps. Our intention is to attack this in phases, sourcing similar stone from reclamation yards to replace any broken ones.
The rose garden is comprised of 12 square beds which I would imagine haven’t seen any roses for many years. Instead the rose garden was planted out with very large phormiums, which we have since removed. In their place we have planted 8 giant agapanthus in 8 of the squares, which were an absolute gem of a find in the St John’s Plant Centre, in Clacton. Later in the year we will be installing some steel arbours, which will form the framework for some climbing roses and 150 metres of Japanese Holly to frame each of the squares. The remaining squares will be home to some specimen trees such as a magnolia grandiflora, cercis Canadensis and a cornus controversa variegata, otherwise known as a wedding cake tree. This will create a softer, more contemporary take of the original rose garden.
Of course this is just one of many projects we will be undertaking within the garden. It has been an incredible first few months for us and I look forward to sharing more of our stories as we work to restore one of Percy’s great gardens.