wild flowers

Last year I was thrilled to have a number of orchids appear in my ‘wild’ garden.  I wasn’t sure how the orchids spread, so last year gave a little helping hand and scattered the dried seed towards the end of the summer.  Amazingly I have about 30 this year – of two separate varieties – which I believe are Northern Marsh-orchid and Heath Spotted-orchid. I have the stunning and very helpful “Wild Flowers” book by Sarah Raven which has helped with identification – the Northern Marsh-orchid grows prolifically through seed dispersion, so perhaps next year I could have a field of purple?

The plan in this space had been to hire a turf remover, take out the entire top layer of soil to reduce the nutrient level and then to scatter a native seed mix.  However, the orchids are so happy that I have changed the plan slightly – now I plan to remove foot-square patches into which I will sow Yellow Rattle and a native seed mix.  The Coronation Meadows site for Derbyshire is the starting point for wildflower varieties in my area.

This area of the garden will eventually extend to housing the bee hive – planned for 2018 – but I have always considered it a bit of a wasteland.  However, having paged through the “Wild Flowers” book, it is no longer a wasteland, rather a very small wildflower meadow.  So far, I have identified 16 varieties.  Some, the Common Thistle, Lady’s Mantle, Common Bistort and Ground Elder, need to be carefully managed;  but others – such as the Foxgloves, Lesser Stitchwort and Meadow Saxifrage – will hopefully respond well to the decrease in tough grasses through the introduction of Yellow Rattle.  I’m also considering adding some historic wild roses to the mix.  If only there were more hours in the week!

 

the ‘old’ border

My home was built by the Duke of Devonshire in 1923 for a member of his Estate team…  perhaps the head gardener?!  My husband has owned the house for about 20 years and having tracked back through the records we believe we are the 4th family to live here.

The previous owner, a Mrs Williams, loved her garden.  We know that she had one full-time and one part-time gardener when the garden was at its peak, and we believe that she requested the planting of the superb rhododendrons which create such a strong visual impact at the front of the house.  The wilderness garden – soon to be my mini-orchard with bee hives – was her vegetable plot.  The original greenhouse and cold frames still exist in that space – at the moment both are overgrown and not used – hopefully that will change one day when I have some more time (or the funds to hire a gardener…) 🙂

The garden was lovingly maintained by my in-laws for approximately 15 years before I started to work on it.  It’s been so wonderful to bring new life and perspective to a space that has been loved by so many people for so many years!

The pictures included here are of the only border to have survived from Mrs Williams’ time – we believe it is 30+ years old.  The pink / orange combination of Persicaria bistorta ‘Superba’ and Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’ perhaps shouldn’t work – but is superb…  as the season progresses Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’ and Filipendula purpurea and albiflora carry the space through to winter.

I hope Mrs Williams and her gardeners of past would appreciate how much time and love go into her garden today.