It’s fair to say that the garden here at the cottage is a little overgrown. Lush, verdant, hopefully productive – but overgrown. It is, however, beautifully laid out. A wide flagstoned terrace bordered by a stone wall leads from the front of the cottage to a formal garden area with a small area of lawn. In clearing a border here I found a herb patch with thriving bay, mint and thyme. There are cobble sets bordering the terrace area and seating areas made from large slabs of stone. A wooden pig bench has been left by the previous owners. A plant that I think is a perennial geranium has spread like wildfire in any crack it can find in the flags and should be beautiful when in flower.
An iron gate then gains entrance to an old vegetable garden. It was once laid out in four large patches with paths running in between, and rabbit proof fencing all around. Those four patches are now hard to distinguish however and will need some serious clearing. The strawberry plants that were once contained under hoops and wire have run riot, spreading themselves all over the patches. We’ve seen a photo of the vegetable garden several years ago and it looked beautiful – paths covered in chipping, neat rows of leeks and onions, and a bamboo trellis standing ready for peas.
My plan for this area is to restore it to it’s productive past. There’s a lot of work ahead but reading the garden stories at Little Dog Vintage and English Homestead, and getting all the gardening books I can from the library are proving good inspiration.
In the corner of the vegetable garden is one of our most interesting finds – an old well. We’re told this is a ‘dip well’ – not a deep hole but rather a spring that accumulates and water can be gathered. I’ve made a start on clearing the ferns surrounding it and stone steps can clearly be seen leading down to it, with a small shelf to one side of the spring.
To the side of the vegetable patch is a small orchard area with a few old apple trees. We hope to add to these over the years. Less picturesquely the area also contains the opening to our septic tank.
Beyond the vegetables and orchard will be one of our biggest challenges as the formal garden gives way to pond area which runs down to a stream. The pond is separated from the rest of the garden by an old stone wall which can barely be seen through the undergrowth. The pond itself needs clearing out but it’ll be interesting to see whether we get frogspawn appearing over the next few months as an indicator of how healthy the water now is. If we can restore it it’ll be a lovely area to sit in the summer. The pond then gives out to an area of trees and shrubs which will either be left to the wildlife or tackled some time in years two to five. “That’s one for years two to five” is a common refrain here at the cottage.
In the meantime, I’ve started clearing leaves and cutting back dead growth. After all the rain and gales the soil is waterlogged and heavy so I’m hoping to start on some digging soon if this weather lets up.