Thymus

The Garden

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My garden is a plantsman's garden planted for year round interest and for wildlife.  I have been gardening organically for about 25 years and since late 2002 I have also been peat-free.  The borders are closely planted and I cram in as many plants as possible and underplant with bulbs, relying on Link Stakes for support.

When we moved here in 1989 the garden was neglected and I had to start from scratch.  The garden is a sloping site and I spent five years levelling the soil, building walls, laying paths, making a scree and doing the initial planting and I first opened the garden for the National Gardens Scheme in 1995.  I now open the garden on a Sunday in late May or early June for the Thymus Collection and most years on an ad hoc basis for my chosen charities.  Visitors like the garden as its size relates to their own gardens.

The garden and National Plant Collection® have been featured in Spring in the Garden by Steven Bradley, photography by Anne Hyde (1998), Hertfordshire Countryside (September 1998), the RHS journal The Garden (June 1999), Garden News (September 1999), Hertfordshire Life (August 2001), Gardens Illustrated (June 2004), The Garden (April 2009) and the journal of the Herb Society Herbs (June 2009)

The Front Garden

The front garden is a large mixed border with shrubs alongside the pavement, Photinia davidiana 'Palette', Potentilla fruiticosa, Philadelphus 'Manteau d'Hermine', Viburnum farreri 'Nanum' and Deutzia gracilis.  It is planted with herbaceous perennials zoned in colours, and underplanted with Crocus and Narcissus.  Naturalised Crocus tommasinianus alongside the path are a welcome sight in late winter.

Viburnum farreri 'Nanum' Crocus tommasinianus
Front Garden: April Narcissus 'Woodland Prince' Tulipa greigii 'Plaisir'

Note access path and Link Stakes!

In late spring and early summer there are Allium cristophii, A. hollandicum, Nectaroscordum siculum, hardy Geranium, Euphorbia griffithii 'Fireglow' and cottage garden Aquilegia vulgaris in shades of cream, blue, dark purple, pink and maroon.  I only grow the old fashioned spurless or short spurred aquilegias and they are allowed to self seed.

By the end of June and beginning of July the border is a mass of colour with Allium sphaerocephalon, Hemerocallis, Lilium, Melica altissima 'Atropurpurea', a beautiful grass with dark red flowers, Penstemon, Phlomis italica, P. russeliana and Phlox paniculata.

The succession of flowers continues into late summer and early autumn with Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Firetail', Verbascum chiaxii 'Album', Strobilanthes wallichii, Helianthus 'Gullick's Variety' and H. 'Lemon Queen', Aster novae-angliae and A. novi-belgii cultivars and Miscanthus sinensis cultivars.  In this border it is survival of the fittest!  Apart from the front of the border, all the plants are large vigorous growers and smaller plants are grown in the back garden, where they do not become swamped by their neighbours.  At the end of 2001 the two Helianthus cultivars were awarded the Award of Garden Merit in the Wisley Trials.

There is a narrow border between garage and front path, planted with old roses, Rosa 'Centifolia Variegata', R. 'Perle d'Or', R. 'Charles de Mills' and the dwarf Centifolias R. 'Burgundiaca' and R. × centifolia 'De Meaux'.  It is underplanted with Crocus, Allium, Dianthus and Satureja.  Colchicums grow at the back of the border where the ground bakes in the summer and there is plenty of space for the foliage in spring.

Rosa 'Centifolia Variegata' Rosa 'Perle d'Or' Rosa 'Charles de Mills' Rosa  centifolia 'De Meaux' [magnified]

Updated June 2010

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