There was a time before this year’s Great English Monsoon (aka summer) when the West Garden at Castle Caldwell was a temple to Floribunda. However, the weather this year has been dreadful with June the dullest and wettest on record. Weather forecasts contain the key phrase “a month’s rain will fall in 24 hours” and at the end they broadcast the public service announcement “if you have been affected by the issues in this weather forecast, help is available ………”
Indeed according to Thames Water, our rapacious German owned water company which leaks like Whitehall and has trousered £5 Bn profits from its ill gotten monopoly since privitisation, during this time we have been experiencing a drought. I can only observe more people have died from drowning during this drought than all previous recorded droughts. In the past, each June the garden would be an explosion of colour as roses bloomed, lilies jumped towards the sky and clematis entwined trellises. It would be filled with fragrance, butterflies greeting the salvia and bees the catmint. Alas, this wet summer and strange winters has made these halcyon days a distant memory.
For the garden as it used to be, see;
After last winter with the warm wet summer and mild winter it all got just impossible having to cut back the growth at the end of the season and we also had a dead tree and very little colour left in the garden. We also had a proliferation of weeds which were getting impossible to control because of the clutter.
So I decided on a drastic change, had all the beds cleared out and turfed over. We then constructed two squares at the back of the garden (which gets the sun in the evening) – one a deck and pergola to use as an outdoor dining area and the other a gravelled area centred around the bird table where we have cleared all the pots off the patio and added some extra to make a display.
We have also put two large bamboos in the corners to frame the view. The bottom line is the only things left planted in the ground is the grass and a single conifer! It is still a work in progress – table and chairs for the deck have still to arrive and grass has still to regrow – it is subject to intensive TLC by the Head Gardener or Hortus Praetorius as he is called at Castle Caldwell.
I have perhaps over- reacted to being fed up with the wilderness that passed for a garden. When we bought the house it was already landscaped and we kept adding things so it got cluttered and there were clematis, roses, honeysuckle on trellises on the fences which made
them impossible to paint. I cleared off the patio by removing the pots and compost bin (it’s now behind the shed) and built the arbour to act as a quiet area to read the paper and installed a water butt (The Great Butt of Castle Caldwell) with an interceptor on the down pipe to save water. As our water supply from said rapacious German owned monopoly is metered I note with some satisfaction it holds the equivalent of 40 watering cans. Out front everything was cleared out leaving only the cherry tree and the border hedge. There is a clean look to it all with plum coloured slate chippings laid over a membrane and just two hardy date palms in rather nice glazed pots to give a structured effect. Other than that there are two box trees by the front door and a hanging basket (actually on a rigid bracket) to give some visual interest and composition.
There you have it, a reduced garden we might actually use (when summer arrives!!!!) which is low maintenance and won’t need to be added to or cleared out each year. We will miss our old garden but, as is common in broken relationships, it had stopped speaking to us some time ago. Blooming June is a fond but distant memory.