Growing boys in a Burscough garden

PUBLISHED: 00:00 13 June 2014

Looking through the garden

Looking through the garden

linda viney

This family plot evolved from a place for rough and tumble into a series of planted room. Linda Viney paid them a visit

The BothyThe Bothy

Sandra and Peter Curl live on the outskirts of Burscough surrounded by open countryside, where someone once told me if you put your finger in the ground it would take root! Originally a paddock for horses, the ground was very fertile when they moved in 38 years ago. With a growing family of three boys they had a large vegetable garden on one side, soft fruit on the other and a football pitch right down the middle.

By the mid 1980s, the sons had grown up and left home and the vegetables were going to waste. This was the opportunity to create the garden they had always wanted - a plot containing many different areas that create ‘rooms’ linked by meandering pathways.

Open countryside has the drawback of being exposed to the elements so hedges were planted to provide a windbreak. The sons still have input as Michael works locally doing hard landscaping and has been invaluable when Sandra comes up with an idea, which is ‘discussed’ and adapted to what is feasible. Paul helps with the woodwork structures and David supplies the use of diggers and soil. All contribute in their own way.

Peter’s father was a professional gardener and Sandra has always been interested in nature and the countryside. Her introduction as a child was growing dandelions and daisies in the back yard of their house, but then she became an avid reader of gardening books and magazines.

Statues in low box hedgeStatues in low box hedge

They met in Derby through work and have moved round the country, each time increasing the size of the gardens to this one which covers three quarters of an acre.

There is no problem in finding their house as the front garden is always a mass of colour. Late spring is heralded with the tulips and azaleas moving on with seasonal planting. The tulips are left in the ground and increase every year. As you enter the side gate a fairly new raised alpine bed with the delicate looking though hardy plants peer out of the gravel which keeps the base of plants free from damp, and a babbling water feature adds another dimension.

It is certainly an all-seasons garden and for 365 days a year there will be a flower to spot. Sandra is particularly fond of foliage and feels you don’t even need flowers with so many shades of colour from the shrubs, trees and leaves - from cool silver to the warmer gold and hot reds.

Son Michael constructed ‘Gran’s Potting Shed’ totally out of reclaimed materials including old oak beams and leaded windows. ‘I did suggest Sandra may like to put a bed in here,’ Peter said with a smile. However, this is a working shed full of flower pots, tools and compost. ‘It is something I always dreamed of having,’ Sandra said.

Owl feature on tree trunkOwl feature on tree trunk

All round the garden natural primroses can be seen, these came from just one plant brought back from a holiday on a farm in Devon years ago and they have seeded everywhere. The soil here is very well drained and within two hours of heavy rainfall you can get out and work in the garden which is great, except for rose growing.

In another area, by the perimeter, larch trees were planted as a windbreak back in the mid 1980s but gradually they have gone to be replaced with the stunning white bark Betula ‘jackmondii’. There is nothing pleases Sandra more than washing the bark with diluted washing up liquid to bring the white to perfection. We all learn by mistakes as Peter found to his cost when he was cutting back a weigela for he also removed the top off one of the prunus so instead of there he now has two and a half trees. A conifer bought as a dwarf is now starting to grow rapidly and will need cutting back. This area leads to the woodland garden.

The ‘Beech garden’ so named for it is surrounded by a beech hedge has been transformed into an area which is hoped will be easy to manage. It is more of a Mediterranean style with plants placed in gravel making a dry bed. Sandra is gradually adding plants and once the threat of frost has gone will put in the agaves.

Peter has a great taste for runner beans and a small space is left near the polytunnel where he sows his favourite ‘Polestar’. They propagate plants, split them and grow from seed and they have a profusion of flower pots all ready to sell on open days. There is no better way to buy plants than on an open day where they have been grown by a gardener who will be on hand to tell you how to look after it. Plus the fact it brings back memories of your visit.

The garden at 79 Crabtree Lane, Burscough, opens on Sunday 15th June, 11am to 4pm, together with the garden next door. Visitors are always welcome from May through to July if they telephone 01704 893713 or email

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