Finding Solace in the Garden


Last weekend my garden felt like a refuge from the horrible events of the previous week. Although we live high on the Kent Downs our house is one of few on the estate without a view to the surrounding countryside. I’ve sought to build on this sense of enclosure by planting informal hedges and climbers to screen us from our (lovely) neighbours.

Cocooned in this little piece of paradise (OK I am probably exaggerating here but that’s the dream) at the bottom of a quiet cul-de-sac it is easy to hide from the horrors of the wider world. As a Fathers’ Day treat I was allowed an undisturbed day’s gardening and couldn’t help contrasting my own happiness with the grief and pain of so many.

My own experience reminded me of the scene in Gorillas in the Mist where Dian Fossey, fleeing conflict in the Congo, finds refuge in Rosamond Carr’s flower garden. The film portrays the garden as a place where Fossey is able to find the mental and physical and strength required to continue her work. I don’t claim to be a Fossey but the weekend confirms that my own garden provides a similar space for me.

Wedding Flowers


This time last week we were at the wedding of HAV’s niece. Wild and garden flowers played a big role in the bouquets, posies and decorations alongside the more traditional wedding blooms. Vases of Canterbury bells, cornflowers, cow parsley, love-in-the-mist and lavender lined pathways and graced the tables. Sadly the cold spring meant that my own garden’s contribution was limited to a few rose petals to be used as confetti but I have plans….


The Canterbury bells and lavender currently lining the front path of AV Acres are souvenirs of a wonderful wedding weekend. These will find a more permanent home in the sunny border facing the road in the front garden, alongside century flowers and rosemary. Meanwhile I have sown the cornflowers and love-in-the-mist seeds given to me by HAV’s brother and sister-in-law for my birthday in the wildflower border. A beautiful reminder of a beautiful couple’s beautiful day.

A New Love – The Holm Oak

We’re just back from a week’s holiday in the Ardeche where I discovered a new love, the holm oak.

I’ve encountered the holm oak before, I drive past a magnificent specimen each week on the way to my daughters’ ballet class. A solitary tree it stands sentinel over a fork in the road.

Nearer to home there is a very different example. This shrubby version forms a dense part of a natural screen separating a green from the road.

I’m also aware of Lawrence Johnstone’s use of the holm oak at Hidcote. Johnstone’s substituted holm oaks for the olives that would never have survived the cold at Hidcote. I’ve only visited Hidcote once and wasn’t convinced by the holm oaks but a week in the Ardeche may have changed my mind.

A previous holiday on the Cote D’Azur inspired me to create a Mediterranean scented garden on the patio at AV Acres. Like Johnstone the local climate limits my planting choices. The patio is north facing so many sun lovers would not survive. I’m wondering if the holm oak is the answer.