Introducing the Apple Tree Gardens
Apple Tree Blossom
The first garden in this area, the Apple Tree Border, was created back in the 1990s. It seemed natural to start with the old orchard fruit trees and dig madly, if thoughtfully, around them. Alas, the plum and the apricot missed out on the naming rights.
Initially I filled this garden with smaller plants : mainly Ligularias, Bowles Golden Grass, variegated white Honesty and blue Hostas. Moonlight roses climbed through the fruit trees, and large clumps of spring daffodils filled the spaces underneath. Over the years the originals were moved out and more shrubs appeared - rhododendrons, a beautiful Miscanthus Zebrinus (Zebra grass), the rose Fruhlinsgold, two small-flowered pink Camellias, and the interesting perennial Macleya. I introduced Aconites (which have self-seeded delightfully) for the bees in autumn, plus cutting grown Hydrangeas and Acanthus (a wonderful foliage perennial, but a bit of a nuisance).
Apple Tree Garden Border - 2010
My focus then shifted to the woodshed - an obvious feature over which to grow rambling country roses. I planed three monsters - Alberic Barbier, a bright pink American Pillar look-alike, and a busy rambler which I'm sure was Paul Transon. They soon covered the woodshed and spread up into the surrounding trees (and smothered one end of the washing line). For over fifteen years flowering was spectacular, then Paul succumbed to die-back, producing thickets of dead wood. Not the romantic country garden look I was after, so robust removal is currently happening, and the woodshed gets more naked by the day. Paul will re-sprout? Hope so!
RIP Paul Transon
My first vegetable garden on the back lawn was always in disgrace : tomatoes sulked, lettuces either wilted or bolted, potatoes were small and mean-spirited. I had a brief fling with a structured potager, laying little brick paths. Hopeless. So I converted the area into a perennials and roses garden. Crepuscule covered the pergola with its beautiful apricot blooms, with nearby daylilies, delphiniums, dahlias, and summer phloxes providing more colour.
In 2017 I had the brilliant idea to construct a brick Herb Spiral here. I love this feature, though perhaps it could better be called a Flower Spiral! You will find thyme, marjoram, chives, and rosemary as you walk around the spiral. Naturally there was room for more roses nearby...
The top lawn between the woodshed and the Sleep Out is sheltered, the spongy grass perfect for flopping onto and cloud watching. In the winter of 2006 thuggish Mermaid roses and a large chunk of the back fence were removed, and the lawn area opened up, creating space for some rather odd chaps to enjoy a game of backyard cricket.
The Sleep Out has its own small shade garden of hostas, oak leaved hydrangeas and camellias, and a cherry rambling rose, spectacular, but briefly, in summer. An odd collection of pots, including an old tin bath and a very courageous Lemonwood growing in a half oak barrel, lives by the Sleep Out door, the reception area for new plant arrivals. Here the mail order boxes are excitedly opened, or the stragglers from the bargain bin spend weeks waiting for a new home.
Variegated Elm tree...
Back in 2005 I'd offered a good country home to a Variegated Elm tree. I planted it on the side of the woodshed and dug a wee circular bed underneath it for more Hydrangeas. Clumps of daylilies I planted there didn't stay for long - far too shady. I didn't realise how huge the tree would get, or how much it would sucker. Aargh!
Enjoy the Apple Tree Gardens. Sorry about the state of the apple tree, though. At least it's still standing - the old plum and apricot trees have both crashed to the ground. Might have had something to do with a certain Banksia lutea rose...