Introducing Middle Garden
Middle Garden, one of my waterside gardens, was started in 1999 when the rows of huge trees across the water race were felled. I worked around the resulting stumps, as well as the existing species Phormium tenax flaxes and Viburnums. Naturally it kept expanding - dug out a little more here, a bit further there...
Big Pink Rhododendron
In went lots of bargain bin plants, including Rhododendrons whose labels and lower leaves had fallen off. My cutting-grown Lavatera Barnsleys enjoyed their short lives here, packed in with my purchases of plain green Phormiums and green and red Cordylines. Self-sown Pittosporums thrived.
Middle Garden Gunnera
But the biggest game changer was the giant Gunnera, whose seedlings arrived from plantings upstream. This large leafed perennial puts on excessive root growth, and has been known to completely block and damn up waterways. Middle Garden's picturesque water-side path is always closed in the Gunnera season. Oops. But there's nothing quite as dramatic as a large clump of waterside Gunnera, leaves freshly unfurled.
A functional wooden bridge (wide enough for a gardener with wheelbarrow) crosses the water race, and Middle Garden's main path pops you out onto a very shade piece of lawn. Here there's a gap in the Leyland shelter hedge, with a gate through to the Hazelnut Orchard. You'll have to duck underneath the huge pink rhododendron-tree to get through. Other access paths in Middle Garden have been created, moved, and then allowed to revert to garden.
Wheelbarrow on Duck Lawn
Middle Garden is not the tidiest of my gardens and I don't try to control it. The Golden Hop continues to terrorise the interior from midsummer on, and is always severely reprimanded. Why didn't I install a tall power pole for it to climb up? Does that question really need answering?
Middle Garden is Cleared
This is definitely a garden with different seasonal personalities. In winter (when the Gunnera has been trimmed) the edge of the garden opens up and many evergreen shrubs (Carex, Pseudopanax, Astelias) can clearly be seen. There's even room for a garden bench, and it's possible to take a long waterside walk over the Gunnera roots. As long as you don't wobble off into the cold water!
Regrets? That I gave this beautiful garden such a functional, non-creative name! Oh well. But it should be easily found by Non-Gardening Partner when he's been asked to do some garden maintenance. Where's Middle Garden? In the middle!