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A cottage garden with a difference.

We visited my sister, Penny and her husband, Tony this week and enjoyed a lazy afternoon sat on the terrace under a large awning escaping the afternoon sun as the temperature rose well into the 30’s again. From their front garden, situated beneath Bredon Hill in Gloucestershire, you would believe that a traditional cottage garden awaited you around the back but prepare to be surprised.

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The front is a gravel drive and turning point with neatly mown grass areas and gravel gardens, featuring a beautiful stone birdbath.

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Move around the back and a wide inviting paved terrace greets you, and the pervading warm scents of herbs emphasises the feeling of welcome. The aroma of coffee brewing and comfy seating under the awning made us feel so welcome. This is good garden design!

Sit and enjoy your brew and wide steps constructed of recycled railway sleepers infilled with gravel entice you deeper into the garden through a lovely Japanese influenced archway

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The archway sets the scene of what is to come, or at least in part. But relaxing over coffee and cake afforded us the opportunity to spot little details and elements of decoration and humour. An over-sized ceramic hand acts as a bird feeder, a terra-cotta green man watches us from the nearby fence and a recycled wood burner too large for the house has become a garden heater.

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Up the wide steps and through the black wooden archway is a cool shaded garden based on the principles of Japanese garden design. A buddha, a Koi pool,

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The atmosphere here is so powerful, there is a feeling of calm and peacefulness. Again – good garden design. The play of light and shade, cool and warm, changes as you walk through from section to section. The planned tea house should add another rich element to the garden.

Glimpses through the boughs of the tree provide clues to what lies beyond, a little productive patch, with fruit trees and raised veg plots. The tomatoes, picked from the vine and eaten while still warmed by the sun were delicious, sweet but with just the right amount of a hint of acidity.

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The male and female components of this pine were present at the same time, the cones seemingly glued direct to the trunk and the female flowers wrapped around the stem near the final whorl of leaves. A fascinating little tree.

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When you retrace your steps back through a garden it is amazing how you find new surprises awaiting you. The light hits things from different directions and puts the spotlight on objects and surfaces that failed to catch my eye before.

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The harsh mid-summer light added depth to shadows and textures emphasised.

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Wildlife is welcome, encouraged and appreciated here too as shown by the presence of birdhouses. There is the constant hum and buzz of an ecologically sound space. Stay still and you will hear grass hoppers, bees and the yaffling of a Green Woodpecker, the constant chatter of Goldfinches and Linnets. Butterflies are abundant and entertain with their movement and colours. To prove the friendliness of the garden and the gardeners towards our wildlife a grass hopper landed on my back before alighting on the window behind me.

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However good the overall design of a garden is, in the end the little details can add another layer of interest. Penny and Tony have the knack of selecting interesting items that catch the eye just when you think you have discovered the essence of the garden.

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This is a great garden to spend an afternoon in, relax and catch up with our sister and brother-in-law. And they present a fine cup of coffee and most excellent lemon drizzle cake!

By greenbenchramblings

A retired primary school head teacher, I now spend much of my time gardening in our quarter acre plot in rural Shropshire south of Shrewsbury. I share my garden with Jude my wife a newly retired teacher , eight assorted chickens and a plethora of wildlife. Jude does all the heavy work as I have a damaged spine and right leg. We also garden on an allotment nearby. We are interested in all things related to gardens, green issues and wildlife.

5 replies on “A cottage garden with a difference.”

what a wonderful place to enjoy with your family! I love the Japanese influence. I enjoyed a Japanese garden on the Salem Garden Club tour a few weeks ago. I’ve been thinking about learning more and incorporating it in here some day.

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