The amazing transformation of a Leyland garden

PUBLISHED: 00:00 09 November 2013

Blue cypress stands tall amongst the herbaceous as does the giant stipa grass

Blue cypress stands tall amongst the herbaceous as does the giant stipa grass

Linda Viney Copyright

This Leyland garden had everything except flowers, but all that has changed. Linda Viney reports

Within walking distance of a large supermarket lies a hidden gem of a garden with a front that gives you no idea of the wonders within. When Julia Harwood-Geall moved in 18 years ago, her partner Fred had already created a garden. To her dismay, there wasn’t a flower in sight. He, like many men, loved his lawn which had precise tramlines and a leylandi with an archway to his vegetable garden. Julia managed to coax him to move it down one side but it took some persuading as it meant removing some conifers which were his pride and joy.

Until she moved here, Julia hadn’t realised she had green fingers. ‘My grandfather was a gardener so it must be in my blood,’ she said. ‘I started creating a border at the far end and as time went on I kept requesting more of the lawn for my plants.’

Fred dug out the beds and fertilized them but Julia planned and selected the plants. It is now a tapestry of colour, texture and delight which probably comes from her flower arranging skills. ‘Now I have a large garden I don’t have time for flower arranging,’ she smiled.

Julia loves unusual plants and has accumulated a vast array of hardy perennials. She is meticulous in documenting every one and notes where they are in the garden. She has two files - one with plants listed alphabetically and the second which bed they are in. This is a great way of keeping track, especially as she has over 400 different varieties ranging from the giant stipa to the smallest alpine.

On the day I visited, the helenium was absolutely covered with bees gathering the nectar. She protects it in winter with plenty of mulch. It has been a good year for butterflies as well and several species have delighted her this year. There is a stone hedgehog but I am sure hedgehogs will visit her garden as well as the birds which I spotted.

When she moved in, the central island bed was full of roses. She removed them, placing one rose in each bed as she did like roses, though felt in the winter they were just sticks which showed when planted just in one bed. The large blue cedar makes a statement as does with the giant stipa grass which sways in the breeze and on a summer’s day catches the light, the palm adds a touch of the tropics.

She likes to keep on top of the gardening and will go out every day to do something, though she usually spots something else to do and gets carried away and, before she knows it, it is tea time. She has opened for the past four years for the National Garden Scheme but is giving it a miss next year as she finds it hard work providing the teas which visitors now expect. She used to open alongside another garden in Leyland which eased the pressure but they have also stopped opening, if another one is forthcoming she may reopen.

The lawn sets off the curvaceous beds and encourages you to meander round, though to take in all the plants you would need a day. She has a large collection of hemerocallis (day lily) from pale yellow to peach and orange. Monadas, leucanthemums and a lovely variegated leaved phlox as well as the white one stood proud amongst the herbaceous. Clematis entwined through and up the borders with grasses and shrubs gaving added texture. Mixed conifers ensured that there was all year round interest and there will be a flower out 365 days of the year.

The garden is shielded from the elements by mature trees and open land at the far end extends the view. Compost and summer house/shed are shielded from view of the main garden. The lawn is kept well and edged with the precision you would expect as it offers a frame to the overall picture. Julia is passionate about her plants and this shows in the care she takes. It certainly is a credit to her.

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