My mum, Carol, is a fantastic and passionate gardener, and it’s she who helps me with all horticultural references in my books. I love writing about nature but without a little nudge my peonies would be blooming alongside my primroses, and my lilac would be lovely in July. (Yes, I felt you gardeners shudder).
Sadie’s garden in ‘Mr R’ is inspired by Carol’s (though Sadie is far more tolerant of weeds and don’t even ask what Carol does to the deer who dare to eat her roses). I’ve watched as over a decade my parents have turned a couple of fields into an idyllic English cottage garden. There is a riotous herbaceous border filled with giant alliums (mum calls them ‘space rockets’), poppies, hellebores, irises, lilies, roses, daisies, lupins and wigwams of Carol’s prized sweat-peas. The striped lawns roll down to a stream, and a bridge leads to a series of bog gardens and ponds — one white, one yellow, one blue — and paths lined with towering bamboo snake to a bench beneath a willow arbour.
Beyond the bog gardens and stream is a field full of grass and wild flowers through which my dad, Clive, has carefully mown a series of paths. There are plantings of young trees — fruit trees and hard wood — and at the bottom lies the grandchildren’s pride: a secluded tree house. And, I can’t possibly discuss the garden without mentioning my dad’s favourite part of the garden: the veg patch. During the summer we enjoy his courgette flower risotto, lettuce plucked straight from the ground as well as home grown strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, black-currants…
From the garden you can see both the thatched cottage which inspired Jack and Sadie’s home as well as Bulbarrow hill. If you have enough cider, you might even see the flags of Jack’s golf course or the tail of a woolly-pig.
For two days this summer Carol and Clive are opening the garden as part of the National Garden’s scheme and are featured in The Yellow Book (if you don’t know what the yellow book is, just make sure you say it in hushed and reverent tones).
‘The Old Smithy’ garden, Ibberton, Dorset, is open on Sunday 27th of June between 2-5.30pm. Admission is £3 (children free) and all proceeds go to charity. There are plants for sale and cream teas will be served at Ibberton Village Hall. The postcode for your sat nav is DT11 0EN
I will be there collecting tickets and failing to answer questions about plants.
Leave a comment below if you need further details.