Life has become very simple lately. Get up at 7am, check THE PROJECT PLAN and the day’s to-do list. Greet the electrician, handyman, locksmith or whoever is working on the house. Complete my list of gardening, painting, moving things to storage, eat dinner early, spa bath, bed. Repeat!
I’m preparing my home for sale and the photographer arrives on Monday. For the past 3 weeks my focus has been solely on getting the house and garden into the best shape ….for someone else! Crazy isn’t it? I’ve put up with the sticking locks, sagging gates, grotty decking for years but now I want to make sure that the house is super well presented for sale. And it does look lovely. Especially in the softer light of autumn. The hedges are manicured, lawns mowed, excess furniture is in storage and rooms are starting to be “styled.”
So this article is really a photo gallery of the hard work of me and my friends and the tradesmen who have traveled with me for the past 11 years on this passion project. In the reading room photo you’ll see the box on the wall . This is the TRUTH WINDOW. Every strawbale house has a truth window which shows a section of the wall which is not rendered. You see the strawbales used for construction. The house is built from a steel frame packed with large strawbales and then rendered inside and out with cement and lime. Its walls are very thick and have excellent insulating qualities. I’ll show you more of the inside next week.
The farm gate leading into the back garden. The garden is not so large. Just over a quarter of an acre but it’s designed into specific garden rooms, each with their own character.
This is a courtyard framed with English Box. Tall birches provide shade for the white and pink camelias that flower in late winter/ spring. Underplanting consists of Hellebores (“winter roses”.) There’s also a spring bulb border. On a hot day it’s a good spot for an evening BBQ with friends.
The Sculpture Garden was the most expensive of Nora’s follies. The slope had to be reshaped and tons of soil bought in to create a flat surface for the ” runway” leading to a garden sculpture…an urn became the substitute for the garden sculpture I had hoped to commission, but it’s still lovely. This is the mostly dry garden. Birches continue as the main garden tree but the main feature are the massive grasses (Miscanthus Sinesis) that turn a gentle pink in autumn. At the end of winter they are treated like no other plant I have ever known- they need to be bound with rope and a chain saw cuts off all the grasses to ground level…a sharp contrast to the obsessive clipping of the English box. They are sculptural. They move in the wind and are exquisite plants if you have the space to mass plant. These are underplanted with giant lambs ears with their soft grey colour and gentle trailing habit. This is a Sculpture Garden, so rarely does a flower makes an appearance. It’s all about colour, structure and form. This garden is probably my favourite.
This is a space which is wonderful for a cool rest on a hot day. I’ve been brutal in clipping it back but the ornamental grape creates a rust and burgundy show as the leaves are just starting to change colour. The pergola sits snuggly in the main feature garden full of roses, (Iceberg, Just Joey, Pierre de Ronsard), Echium, and the beautiful ornamental pear trees- Manchurian and Chanticleer. Surrounded by clipped hedging, this garden is planted for all seasons and the spring bulb show is magnificent.
And if its flowers you like then the perennial border and summer roses deliver…….
Like most gardens this one has been a labour of love, a creative project like no other and 11 years of learning and hard physical work. It’s time now to enjoy the beauty of its creation and then pass it on to the next custodian.