You can think of Furzehill Farm garden as a ‘sampler garden’ and the layout has evolved around the various trials and constraints that has brought about.
Richard and Sue are both professional garden photographers, they are as self sufficient as they can be, they give Wildlife a very high priority and they enjoying trying new gardening ideas. These factors play strongly on the elements that you find in the garden.
The Meadow plots.
Almost 20 years ago 5 small ‘meadows were created using differing methods of establishment such as plug plants, seed, 9cm pots and annuals undersown with perennials. All but one plot were planted exclusively with native plants. These mini-meadows have matured and the plant communities within them are fairly stable. In June and July the meadows are flowery and buzzing with insects.
Richard is very keen on traditional woodland management. The garden has a tiny wood and some banks that have old Hazel stools. These are coppiced on a rotation and the arising materials used as fuel and for garden construction such a trellises, obelisks and arches. Coppicing encourages the native ground flora and Primroses, Bluebells and Violets are abundant in Spring
Richard has created a ‘sub-garden’ that he uses as a photographic resource. It is intentionally very rustic with rickety fences, a little shed/shack and beds that are a mix of flowers and veg.
The ‘Cottage Garden’
In front of the cottage, what used to be a veg plot is now ornamentals and divided into quadrants. Like so many old gardens it is a battle-field of gardener against Bindweed and Ground Elder – a constant war with no winner – yet. The plants are mostly ones that have been the subjects of photographic work having been grown in large pots until flowering and the photos taken then planted up for longer term assessment. It is an eclectic mix and rules are often broken eg. tall plants at the front where they are most easily enjoyed and photographed.
The Veg garden
Richard and Sue grow a lot of Veg. Although the soil at Furzehill is mainly intractable clay there is a good patch of deep dark soil that was once the garden of a cottage long gone. The methods used are generally very traditional however they do have to go to some lengths to avoid loss of crops to wildlife, Voles and Badgers being the main offenders.
Trees and Shrubs
Richard grew and planted a selection of fruit and ornamental trees back in the 1980’s and these make up the framework of the garden. New trees are always being planted to replace the ones that decline through age or disease. The most recent project is a patch of berry producing trees to encourage birdlife in Winter. There is a new Orchard that is just three years old, mostly Apples some of which are old varieties that do well locally.
Richard photographs new plant varieties for Nurseries, they use the shots in catalogues, for labels and on their web sites. Currently you can expect to see large pots of new Eryngiums and Salvias as well as some Agapanthus and Hostas
The garden depends greatly on natural local materials. The paths are gravel, wood, (mainly Chestnut and Hazel) is used for construction. As well as the Hazel Willow is also grown for making garden structures. Soil enrichment is marure from the farm and composted green waste with bracken mulch used when available. Richard has a thing about Corrugated iron and it is used in various states of decay as roofing, barriers, compost bins and planters.
The Farm Buildings
Built in the 1960’s by a previous generation the old buildings are in a state of gradual decay and collapse. Over time they will be replaced by similar, better built structures, for now they are used for storage and occasionally for livestock.