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Pool Foot Barn - painting with plants in a Lancashire garden

PUBLISHED: 00:00 25 October 2018

Fresh flowers show Amanda's artistic side

Fresh flowers show Amanda's artistic side

Linda Viney

A gardener from the Fylde manages to combine art with horticulture to create a space that’s perfect for wildlife. Linda Viney paid her a visit.

Hidden on the Fylde near the busy A585 lies an impressively peaceful two and half acre oasis set round Pool Foot Barn in Little Singleton.

Created by Amanda Ackroyd, it is divided into different areas and caring for nature has been one of her driving forces. It includes a traditional cottage garden with emphasis on plants specially selected to attract butterflies.

There are also ponds and a walk-through copse leading to a wild flower area and field with fostered Shetland ponies, as well as an area for vegetables and fruit with a working greenhouse. Amanda gave up work ten years ago so she could concentrate on creating her dream garden. One of the first things she did was to take a Royal Horticultural Society level 2 course at Myerscough College and, as an avid reader, she has built up a vast knowledge of plants and conditions they require to thrive. She also regards the internet as a ‘mine of information’ for gardeners.

The soil is mainly acidic loam with some sand and a bit of clay thrown in, giving a wide scope when designing each area. Amanda is naturally artistic and apart from ‘painting’ with plants in the garden also creates pictures with soft pastels. She is a member of the local art club and has entered work in exhibitions.

Seedheads of allium and spires of veronicaSeedheads of allium and spires of veronica

‘I am always learning whether by propagating plants or finding out how to cope with pests and diseases,’ says Amanda, who is an adopted Lancastrian. ‘I was a southerner but my husband, John, was from Leeds and he persuaded me to move north. I certainly didn’t have any objection and soon settled.’

The patio to the rear of the barn is secluded with a hawthorn hedge giving structure and a backdrop to the planted flower beds filled with herbaceous perennials. A lawn adds to this cottage garden feel. Table and chairs give relaxed seating and the parasol has certainly come into its own this summer providing welcome shade. Flowers freshly picked are placed in a small watering can on the table for added interest.

Tall herbaceous plants stand proud with the rear of the barn peering through. A fence assists in keeping out any deer that may decided to come in looking for rose buds.

Thankfully, as it was a dry summer slugs did not ravage the hostas which have given a lovely display in one of the borders.

Striking colour from penstemonStriking colour from penstemon

Leaving this area, we walk through the woodland passing a pond where, shortly after it was dug, ducks soon arrived making it their home.

A mown path takes us to the far end where two ponies come across a field to see us. These are rescue ponies who certainly look very happy in their new home.

The wildflower meadow is mown just once a year in August, and attracts many bees and butterflies. There is a small copse of willow which is coppiced for weaving and peering round a corner is a willow stag which Amanda has made, another skill she has learned. Paths guide you round and there is plenty of seating to allow you to pause and reflex. A raised gazebo gives a different view across the plot and the roof offers sanctuary if it rains.

Ornamental grasses give movement in the prairie style border and alliums, especially the fairly new variety ‘Ambassador’ with large purple flowers and attractive seedheads, extend the season.

This is the least worked bed as the plants naturally flow. Plants of the daisy family add their own beauty as does the wild carrot. In contrast the hot border has reds from the crocosmia and the hemerocallis and achillea as well as heleniums with their warm tones.

Amanda’s husband built the raised vegetable beds and constructed the greenhouse, which is home to a vine where grapes were ripening. There is a bench where Amanda does much of her propagating and seed sowing.

‘I love Burncoose Nursery in Cornwall, Kevock Nursery in Scotland, and Hardy’s Cottage Garden plants, but have also had great finds in Poundland and I love growing from seed. Any trees are bought in as whips as I find they take better as well as being less costly,’ Amanda says.

It is certainly a garden full of a wonderful mix of plants where there will be something to see 365 days of the year.

Pool Foot Barn opened for the second time this year for the National Garden Scheme (NGS) and I hope you will have the opportunity to visit next year.

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