Monday, 3 March 2008

My Inner Sanctum

Maturity and the onset of the years has never managed to dampen the excitement I feel on waking to the magical silence that comes after a fall of snow in the night. This morning was no exception. Jumping into warm clothes and sensible shoes, I rose early and ran off, like an excited child, to fetch my camera. Standing at the front door, the first view I took is to the left hand side of the garden where we planted a border of deciduous trees and shrubs, which allows plenty of light during the dark days of Winter. In Summer, of course, the same view shows the opposite effect, when the trees and shrubs come into leaf and offer privacy and an air of seclusion. Though mine is a close-knit family, and I have a few good friends and more than several acquaintances, I am essentially a very private person. My main aim, therefore, when creating the garden was to find ways of maintaining our privacy.

I also wanted the garden to exude an air of soul and romance, with quiet corners, where we could entertain our family and friends, as well as creating a sanctuary for our pets and the visiting wildlife. Titch, one of our three stray moggies, came to drink some 'pond soup' while I was taking the second picture. Behind him is a raised bed of mainly conifers and evergreen trees and shrubs. Hidden behind that bed is the top area of the garden which borders the busy B road running past our house.
The raised bed has a twofold purpose, in that it helps to deaden the sound of the passing traffic as well as affording us a view of the pond and the garden in front of the house. In Summer we sit on the little bench under the arch which is covered in fragrant honeysuckle and clematis. More often than not, one of the cats will join us for a snooze, or serenade us with their purrbox songs while time slips magically by as we read our favourite novels.

To the right of the pond is a potentilla hedge which encloses the front garden, giving much needed shelter as we live in an open and windswept landscape. It has white flowers which bloom from June to September and attracts bees and insects.Once it is established, one particular beauty of the hedge is that it, generally speaking, never requires pruning which is a plus in my book. I did prune it in the early years, however, to keep it thick-set as our strong winds can play havoc with any spaces found in a hedge.
Behind the hedge is the drive which leads to the top of the road. To the right of it we have planted large deciduous trees and a rosa rugosa hedge, as this border has to withstand the strong prevailing winds.
In front of the trees and the rugosa hedge there are mature deciduous shrubs, a succession of Spring bulbs and a long nectar border of traditional cottage garden favourites, such as lupins, delphiniums, poppies, aquilegia, rununculas, foxgloves and feverfew. During the first year of the garden we planted a pyracantha hedge which I thought would be hardy and grow into a sturdy specimen, but its foliage was burned black by the severe winds and gales. We are 225 metres above sea level so this may also have been a factor in its short life.
As a gardener, I am like Nature, which abhors a vacuum, and, therefore, am guilty of filling every available space with plants. As a result we now have a border of daisies, feverfew, thyme, sedum and geraniums in front of the potentilla hedge. My husband has a habit of making a guess as to how long it will be before we have no drive to allow the car access to come and go.
Further down the drive is our barn, known locally as Little Dublin, because of the hundreds of Irishmen who used it as sleeping quarters when they came each year to help with the potato harvests. It is seventy feet in length, and home to the three stray cats who choose to stay with us, at least two pairs of swallows who raise their broods in Summer and provides year-round shelter to hundreds of sparrows.
Three pairs of jackdaws come back each year to nest in its chimneys, as well as wrens, thrushes and blackbirds which build nests in the ivies. It also provides excellent shelter to the garden from the gale force winds. It was in a derelict state when we first came here, with gaps in the walls and a leaky roof. Once my husband had made it wind and watertight, I began growing ivies up both its eaves and flower beds and shrubs in front of it.
I like the old low door at the farthest end. I have fond memories, from the early years of the garden, of sheltering just inside the door on wet days and looking out at the huge expanse of work to be done in landscaping this derelict plot of ground.
In front of this door I created a bed of conifers and evergreen shrubs, underplanted with heathers and Spring bulbs for my husband who has a particular fondness for this kind of planting.
We keep our car in the nearest section of the barn as it has the requisite double doors. The top part I use as my potting shed. It has a lovely smell of leaf-mould as it is where I rot down all the garden leaves until they are ready to be spread under the shrubs.
Over the years I have made a border running the length of the barn. It is mainly of shrubs which carry Autumn berries for the birds. In front of the border there are now two little beds which contain hundreds of daffodils, some tulips, oriental lilies, peonies and herbs for cooking.
Monster decided to join me on my walk this morning. All the cats are fascinated by the snow and love to pounce on leaves or twigs which blow about. Our five friendly blackbirds pipe loudly as a warning to the other birds whenever any of the cats come into view. As soon as the cats disappear indoors, however, they hop over to steal the catfood from the trays on the doorsteps. After I had taken this photo the blackbird at the top of the tree waited his chance and did exactly that.
From the barn to the house, there are island beds of nectar borders and shrubs and mainly specimen deciduous trees, which create a magical architectural quality of their own. We also have little arches to wander through which add height and dimension to the garden
The arch in this picture used to stand alone. But the Winter gales tore it apart. Last Summer we decided to place another arch beside it for strength. So far, the plan has been successful.
This photo shows the path leading up to the top border adjacent to the barn. In Summer this is the part of the garden which offers most shade. Over the years I have been shaping an ivy to make a little seat. Under an arch of honeysuckle and roses, we sit on sticky, hot days, blissfully listening to the wondrous songs of skylarks singing high above the adjacent fields.
There is a stone dyke wall which acts as a border between our garden and the adjacent field. Some years we have the pleasure of watching baby lambs gambolling across the field from their birth till they grow to maturity. Other years we watch the whole process of the field being ploughed, seeded with barley, grown to its fruition and cropped at harvest time.
For me, there is nothing quite like the song of the wind through the barley. It reminds me of happy Summer holidays I spent as a child on the islands where my parents grew up, though, in those days, the farmers allowed wild poppies, corncockles, cornflowers and corn marigolds to clothe the edges of their fields, which, sadly, only the organic farmers do now.
As we have no road bordering the back garden, we have mainly planted silver birches as a border, as the tracery of their foliage allows us to see through them into the fields beyond. We require no privacy here and rarely have any need to close the curtains on the windows at the back of the house. From our vantage point, over the years we have spied foxes, weasels, buzzards, sparrowhawks, hares, rabbits, grey squirrels, pheasants and partridges.
The flower borders around the ponds offer sustenance to bees, insects, birds, and damsel and dragonflies. The ponds themselves are hosts to a myriad of pondlife as well as offering water for drinking and bathing.
I thought when I took these photos this morning that it might be of interest to see how much the garden changes between Summer and Winter, so I looked out these contrasting pictures of the same views. Each season has its own merits. But, for me, one of the most important things of our garden is the privacy that it offers.
Hidden amongst the garden is our house, which I have tried to camouflage in order to make it blend into the surrounding landscape. However, in high Summer, when the garden has been known to resemble a jungle, my husband is often prone to commenting that if I do not get out my pruning sheers and begin to attack the rampaging growth, I will end up like Sleeping Beauty, hidden away in her secret castle, overgrown with hollyhocks, roses, jasmine, honeysuckle and clematis.
What a lovely surprise!
Two weeks ago I was both surprised and delighted to receive an award from Shirl who very kindly nominated me for an Excellent Blogging Award. Shirls Gardenwatch is already famous for her collection of charming bird videos which you can view at the click of a button; her excellent photography, particularly of birds, and her love of plants.
You can see the logo for the award at the top right hand corner of this page. In turn, I would like to nominate a new blogger to receive this award. Her name is Cheryl. Although she is fairly new to blogging , her posts are full of charm. In fact everything in her wildlife sanctuary is so natural. Yesterday she was helping a honey bee to survive in the cold temperatures. That's only one example of what she is doing to encourage wildlife and one reason why I heartily recommend her blog to you all.


Jeanne said...

I love all your photographs
Thanks for your visit and kind words......
Love Jeanne ^j^


Ki said...

Your garden looks wonderful in winter and summer. You've done a great job of balancing the evergreens and deciduous. I especially love the photos of the low door to your barn.

Cheryl said...

What a beautiful post, I walked your garden inutter peace and tranquility.
I am so glad you are back blogging again, I was becoming concered about you.
Thank you for the award...I can't tell you what that means to me. All my life I have happily supported my family and helped them with all their ventures. I have been so priviledged to do that.
To get an award for something I truly believe in is magical. Tku so much.

Sheila said...

As I've often said before your garden really is a corner of paradise. It shows how good landscaping can be beautiful whatever the season. I love your photos showing the winter/summer contrast.
Now I will wait for photos of your spring bulbs, something I really enjoy.

Anonymous said...

It's nice to see your garden Summer~and~Winter.

Yes, i am well, thank you for asking. I am just traveling now and have little time for blogging. I can't wait to get back to it!

Spring is around the corner!

Barbara said...

This is a wonderful post and a great idea to compare winter and summer pictures. Thank you for sharing. Reading and looking at the photos was like strolling with you in your beautiful green/colourful paradise.

Sandy said...

I really enjoyed the photo tour and commentary. What a great place you have there.


Marie said...

What a wonderful post! I just loved it!

farmingfriends said...

I like the way you have shown the snowy photo and the same place in the sunshine. What a beautiful place.
Sara from farmingfriends

Naturegirl said...

I love to see both winter ans summer photos..each create their own magic!
Love your photos!! hugs NG

joey said...

Lovely post and photos describing the 'gift' of seasons on your beautiful piece of earth.

G3T Films said...

That's an excellent blog post. The comparisons between seasons are quite remarkable.

Andrée said...

Heaven on earth! What a lovely garden, no, gardens, you have! Thank you for such a lovely poem in your sidebar. I take the compliment personally and I love it!

My "Change" is here. Thank you!

Crafty Green Poet said...

Stunning photos, lovely

Libbys Blog said...

An amazing post, the contrast between winter and summer really shows your garden at its best. You have done and amazing job. Your painting by flowers, trees and shrubs is second to none!
Thank you so much for sharing this with us! Inspiring!

Q said...

Thank you for opening your gate to "heaven on earth". You have taken your corner of the world and brought peace and joy to all sorts of wildlife. You have created a beautiful, private, peaceful spot to enjoy nature in all of her glory.
As I walked with you I was also in a deep state of quiet. When you showed the same garden spot in summer it was as if I was remembering.
Thank you for this essay.
I am looking forward to reading all of your journal and getting to know you.

Sally said...

I loved this post - to see the contrasts between winter and summer. Thank you so much for sharing your little corner of paradise with me.

SandyCarlson said...

Your inner sanctum is beautiful.

Dawn said...

How lovely! I grew up in an area of the earth that has 'real winters' as well, but now am living in the south without much chance for snow. Your blog gives me a window into a winter wonderland. What an eye for beauty you have. Thank you for taking the time to share your corner of heaven. Your garden really is breath-taking.


Chris said...

My goodness your garden is beautiful in winter and summer! Do you open for the public? You should consider it!! I understand completely about wanting to get out in the snow :-) One of the things I want to do is make a snow angel LOL, I may have to make do with sand! :-)

guild-rez said...

Wonderful pictures..
I love every month in my garden and our parks.
If I stand still (don't do very often) and look around I always find things to admire.
cheers from Canada.

LittleWing said...

love your seasons photos... i euuuuu and ahhhed and laughed as i read your post... i love to garden on my little piece of home...look forward to every bloom..there are never enough flowers to in northwest idaho our season is very is a beautiful home you have...

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Thanks for the lovely tour around your garden in Winter and Summer. Now I have a much better idea of how everything looks. Like you I need privacy in my garden, couldn't do without it!

Potentilla hedges are big in Denmark as I saw quite a few of them when I was over there.

There's an organic farmer not all that far away from me and he has the edges of his fields smothered with wildflowers. It looks a treat and is great for the wildlife!

Congrats on your award!

Kari & Kijsa said...

Just loved seeing the views of your beautiful garden in both summer and winter! It is wonderful how the seasons bring out different, but equally beautiful views!

kari & kijsa

Gowri said...

Your garden looks blissful at all times of the year!

smilnsigh said...

What beautiful surroundings you have created! It truly is your little corner of paradise.

Thank you for sharing it with us.


Ruth Welter said...

Ow my goodness, these photos are just gorgeous!! I love how you alternate between the seasons here, very effective and beautiful.

A wildlife gardener said...

A warm welcome, Everyone, to our little corner of paradise.

Great to have your company, Jeanne. I'm glad you enjoyed the photos :)

Welcome to you, Ki. I enjoy looking at the corner of the barn with the view of the low door too :)

You deserve your award, Cheryl. Thank you for your generous words. I, too, find a walk around the garden very peaceful and uplifting :)

Lovely to have your company, dear Sheila. And as a special request to you, my next post will feature the early Spring bulbs :)

I am glad you are well, dear Becky, and enjoying your travels. Thank you for taking time out to visit the garden :)

I thought the contrast between the Summer and Winter photos so amazing, Barbara, that I felt you would enjoy them too :)

Thank you for your kind words, Sandy. Great to hear you enjoyed the tour :)

Hello again, Marie. Lovely to have your company :)

Welcome to you, Sara. You are very generous :)

Hi there, Nature Girl. I agree, each season holds its own special magic :)

Great to have your company, Joey. You and I are kindred spirits appreciating the wonders of Nature :)

Thank you for introducing yourself to our little corner of paradise, Gt3 films. Lovely to make your acquaintance. I'm glad you enjoyed your visit :)

You deserved the compliment, Andree. I'm glad you liked the poem too :)

Photos paint a picture...your poems do the same for me, Crafty Green Poet :)

Dear Libby, you say the sweetest things...I'm blushing now :)

I'm happy to meet you, Q, and to extend a warm welocme to our garden. I feel so honoured by your gracious comments :)

I enjoy sharing the garden, Sally. I'm glad you enjoyed your visit. Come again :)

A warm welcome to you , too, Sandy Carlson. Great to have your company :)

Dear Dawn, you humble me by your generous comments :)

We don't open to the public, Chris, as there is always the danger of the ponds where children are concerned...and when we are out and about it might be a temptation for the children in the village to pay a visit by themselves, unaccompanied by adults. We do, however, have an enormous number of visitors, as well as family and friends, to the garden throughout the summer...but never any more than penny numbers, eg. up to twelve, at a time. I have had 'Painting Days' in the garden with small groups of my artistic friends as well.

Like you, Guild-Rez, I don't stand still very often either. But I do take time to appreciate the beauty around me :)

You are my first visitor from North West Idaho, Littlewing, and I offer you the warm hand of friendship. It's good to know you found pleasure in our garden :)

I do like the sound of that organic farmer near you, Yolanda Elizabet. With the edges of his fields filled with wild flowers, he's a man after my own heart :)

I'm glad you enjoyed the contrasting photos, Kari & Kijsa :)

Lovely to have you back again, dear Thalia. You are very gracious :)

I like to share the garden with everyone, smilnsigh. thank you for your visit :)

Hello, dear Ruth. Good to know you enjoyed your time here in the garden. Haste ye back :)

The Garden Faerie said...

I, too, love the peaceful solitude after a good snow fall. WHat a great idea to show summer and winter scenes of the same locations! You have a beautiful garden.

shirl said...

Hi again Wildlife Gardener, what a wonderful post :-D

Sitting here with a coffee I have thoroughly enjoyed this tour of your garden! I loved the contrasting photos. I too value privacy in our garden although my garden is much smaller than yours I still do my best :-)

There are no surprises whatsoever that you have so much wildlife in your garden - what a haven for it :-D

You are truly worthy of the Excellent Award so I was delighted to be able to give it to you. Thank-you very much for your kind words about my blog :-D

shirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A wildlife gardener said...

Trawling back through my posts I have come across two late comments.

A warm welcome to you, the garden faerie. Thank you for introducing yourself to my blog. Lovely to meet you, and thank you for calling and leaving such lovely comments :)

I'm glad I had this trawl backwards, dear shirl, or I would have missed your kind words also.

Your garden is very beautiful and your maximise its opportunities so well, and are kind enough to share your charming bird and wildlife videos with us all :)

JeannieTheDreamer said...

Hello Wildlife Gardener, you are surrounded by so much beauty. God is good, and good job to you!

I'll visit again.

A wildlife gardener said...

Welcome, Jeannie the Dreamer, to our little corner of paradise :)

Your words are so true. I am surrounded by so much beauty and it is a stark contrast to the field full of weeds that was here when we first arrived, for, through a great deal of hard physical work and God's Grace we have transformed this part of the landscape into a garden for wildlife :)

Anonymous said...

I love it! Very creative!That's actually really cool.


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