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The art of good gardening in Kendal

PUBLISHED: 13:21 26 November 2013 | UPDATED: 13:21 26 November 2013

Late season colour leads down to a pond

Late season colour leads down to a pond

Linda Viney Copyright

An artistic couple with differing views have managed to weave together a garden that is beautiful and striking. Linda Viney reports.

When a potter and a painter set about creating a garden together you could be forgiven for anticipating the odd artistic difference of opinion.

But John and Frances Davenport have achieved harmony at their home on the outskirts of Kendal by creating two sections to a garden that seem to flow seamlessly, one from the other.

They moved to their home 14 years ago. John, who had a job in London, was able to work from home two days a week and this meant they could live anywhere so long as he could reach the capital in a reasonable time. Finally, they decided on a property in Kendal with a garden that was basically a blank canvas apart from a few trees.

John, a ceramist, and his wife, a painter who works under the name Frances Winder, have taken slightly differing ideas and made them work as one. ‘We each have our own area which gives us freedom,’ added John.

He has a love of water and created a pond with a stream. This has now grown to two linked ponds, one left free for wildlife while the second is home to colourful waterlilies. Edged with stone, the surrounding planting has low growing conifers, acer, grasses and perennials, which give a blend of colour and texture. It was almost impossible to count the varying shades from the lightest to a dark, almost sombre green. Splashes of gold and silver light up different areas.

John loves his lawn and is responsible for the mowing as well as hedge cutting. His ceremic creations can be found peering out from the plants round the garden. He discovered sempervivums grow really well in some of his smaller items and they have become popular so he has started producing pots specifically for this purpose. These are displayed in the greenhouse when they opened for the NGS for the first time this year.

Paths of gravel and paving meander, linking the different areas through this garden which now covers almost half an acre.

Frances mainly works from home and holds exhibitions as well as taking on commissions. Both a ceramist and artist, she loves the fleeting qualities of light and colour.

Her current theme is the exploration of the changing colours of the seasons in abstract form, and these seasonal changes can be seen in her own garden though planted in a more traditional way. I was especially impressed with the pink hydrangea sited with the dark dahlia which intermingled showing each to perfection.

She loves grasses which add movement in the breeze. Texture is also important. Plants have been chosen so their colours blend well with the added splash of brightness.

‘I have enjoyed having visitors this year, though it has been hard work but ensured we kept up-to-date with the gardening,’ Frances said. ‘Some made me see the garden through different eyes, and I had more questions. The bright blue salvia was also much admired, which I like but hadn’t appreciated it quite so much’

There is a lovely collection of plants which they have gathered over the years. Many have been inspired from their time spent as volunteers at Holehird, home of the Lakeland Horticultural Society.

Their garden certainly has all year round interest and showed how it can be achieved with a little care and planning, which especially this time of year is important. Although each area has its beauty, they have managed to gel their ideas while still keeping their own individuality, with 365 days of interest.

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