For the past 12 years I have lived and gardened in a nice quiet corner of a busy and ever growing town (Telford). Now I am fortunate enough to have another garden as well and it could not be more different! The new garden is set on high ground in the Welsh / English borders, just into Wales. It is at a height of about 300 m (compared to 100 m here) and commands a wonderful view of the Severn valley and the surrounding hills of Shropshire and Powys.
The corollary of having a lovely view is that the garden is very exposed to wind and that will restrict what can be grown. Plus the rainfall can be expected to be relatively high and superficially looking at some of the ground nearby it looks as though there may be quite a lot of clay in the soil. It also looks like quite stony ground!
Additionally I had not realised that at those relatively lofty heights the temperature can often be well below that at the foot of the hills. Last week hard and persistent frost covered the entire garden all day whilst in milder climes a mile down the hill there was no frost at all.
I am eager to grow as many edibles as possible wheresoever I may be and this new project means a completely different set of conditions to conjure with. Although it is a relatively small I hope to be able to:
- Grow a wide range of mainly perennial edibles, from trees to bushes to veggies
- Build resilience into the garden so that it can cope with extremes of weather, be that cold, heat, wet or drought
- Increase the fertility of the garden
- Increase the biodiversity and make it very wildlife friendly
- Make it as beautiful as possible; which means that attractive edibles will be particularly sought after
- Cope with the potentially demanding terrain and exposed situation
- As always design things to need as little labour as possible
I have measured the garden but not yet had time to draw it and make any plans or to know what the actual area of useable land is. At present the new garden comprises a border of lawn around a small property with another small patch of grass on the far side of a driveway. The property and garden face south and will catch a good deal of light, and sun when it is shining. On the north side there is a hedge bordering the lane, comprising hazel, hawthorn and blackthorn as far as I can tell at present. Either side of this hedge (on the road side and the house side) is a raised bank (about 1 metre high) and maybe 1.5 m deep which will be good for planting into.
Funnily enough it is the damp, shady mixed roadside hedge that I feel most comfortable about working with. My Telford garden is very shady and damp and this has been a feature I have got used to and know what works. The potential of unremitting sunshine is quite a new idea, but then again given the vagaries of our climate who knows what will come along.
The southern edge of the garden comprises a hedge of evergreens, possibly Leylandii(?) which casts deep shade over the grass nearby and keeps the frost for longer than anywhere else in the garden.
I have started work on the new garden by planting some spring bulbs last week – daffodils and crocus for early brightness and cheeriness. Next I will transport some of the woodland spring flowers that grow on the edges of the Telford garden – primrose, wood sorrel, wild violet, wild garlic, sweet cicely – so they can begin to transform the roadside bank.
I don’t have a photo of the garden to put on but this picture was taken a short way downhill and gives an idea of the splendid location.
I will continue to post about the perennial veggies that I have been growing in the Telford garden, but will also be writing about the newly emerging garden as well. To make things hopefully easy to follow I will probably distinguish between posts about the two gardens in the titles and by categorising them differently in WordPress as Borderland garden and Telford garden.