This is quite the perfect garden: walled, romantic planting, carefully chosen colour schemes, productive vegetable beds and trained fruit. This garden that will keep its dignity all year round, with the gnarled apple trees, the formal bay and box shapes and crisp edged lawn.
The garden at Yews Farm was started in 1997 by Louise and Fergus Dowding , it was a blank canvas with only the apple trees retained. Keeping maintenance low is key to Fergus and Louise; beds are block planted, they are not dug and well rotted manure is added to all beds annually. By keeping the soil healthy you improve the health of your plants “for a plant to thrive, the soil must be alive”.
Plants are chosen for their colour but also for their form, for example clipped shapes, Hydrangea quercifolia, Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’, ferns, Dracunculus, Paulonia, Yucca, Globe artichoke, Helleborus corsicus, Eryngium, Euphorbia mellifera, Eucomis (most of these were in the gravel ‘jungle’ garden).
Self seeding is allowed as this does reduce maintenance however Louise is ruthless, if a plant is in the wrong place, does not look right or does not thrive then it will be removed or substituted. There is indeed a tucked away cutting border which I suspect is home to many of the outcasts.
Good plants for self seeding include Eryngium ‘Miss Willmott’s Ghost’, Allium Christophii and Hellebores.
Other plants that impressed were:
Rosa ‘Eden’ (cream, pink, green) – a recent French bred climbing rose
Iris ‘Kent Pride’ (lovely blue tinge to base of leaves)
Rosa ‘Hot Chocolate’ (dark rusty orange / red with different interesting tones)
Tips shared with us by Fergus:
1. Hostas tend to stay slug free if grown on gravel but where their leaves are not touching other plants (which creates a slug bridge).
2. Manure from silage fed cows tends to be less weedy than field grazing cows
3. Louise is using horticultural grade Neam oil insecticide / soap against box blight