Garden diary

A few additions

 

Change is the only constant in life. I feel like I've heard that sentiment expressed in more ways than I can recall. In truth though it has become something of a mantra of mine, reminding me that even the worst situations are transient whilst helping me to enjoy the best moments to their fullest. Working in a garden though, you can hardly fail to appreciate the truth of the matter. Each day, each week, each year, the garden is changing, nature's chaos perverting and adjusting our well considered plans into often wonderful and sometimes frustrating results.

Working in the garden at Allt-y-bela can be incredibly frenetic, energising and perplexing in equal measure. This week has been one of those weeks. It began with preparation for our rose dome building course, my list of worries and things to stress over has become an annual tradition now and I'm learning to stay slightly calmer. Despite some pretty persistent Welsh drizzle in the afternoon contributing to the familiar gardeners plea 'you should have been here yesterday!' the course was great fun and as an army of rose domes were contorted into all manner of shapes and sizes I felt very happy to have been part of the day.

No time to waste however as preparations began the next morning for some new additions to the garden. As I arrived in the lane a very large lorry was waiting and I had more than a suspicion that its contents would be for us.

Luckily for me Arne had arranged his crack team of landscapers to install these massive new plants so I could take part in the really nice bit, the placements and the little tweaks: 'I think it needs to come around 30 degrees clockwise' all very satisfying!

Amongst the new arrivals was a beech tree that Arne has been coveting for more than a decade! Just getting the enormous tree out of the the lorry was a Herculean task, followed by a strange convoy that included the beech tree dangling from a reversing telehandler, the Land Rover and trailer containing a beautiful multi-stemmed Cornus mas dome and a transit flatbed truck with a pair of Osmanthus topiary balls. We must have made an impressive, if a little bizarre, spectacle!

Safely back in the garden the last day and a half have been dominated by the installation of these new plants. Arne and I stood on the drive as he spoke of how this was the last delivery of large plants for Allt-y-bela, before mentioning the 5m tall Magnolia that will be arriving soon!

Words: Steve Lannin, Head Gardener, Allt-y-bela

Photographs: Britt Willoughby Dyer

© Arne Maynard Garden Design 2017 - reproduction of content and / or photographs only by request.

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New Year changes in the garden

 

Christmas crept up on me last year in a blur of roses, bulbs and brambles; I spent my last day before Christmas making garlands for the fireplaces and wreaths for the door. I love Christmas at Allt-y-bela, it feels so intimately connected to the landscape and the season.

After Christmas I had some unused holiday to take, which turned out to be two weeks. I'm convinced that Allt-y-bela exists outside of the normal rules of physics, days pass in what feels like minutes, weeks in what seems like days!

During my very long break I caught up on some jobs, did a little college work and walked some of this beautiful corner of Wales I call home. By the end of the last week I was very much ready to come back, I'd forced myself to stay away but it wasn't easy!

On returning on Monday I was in for a bit of a surprise; the garden was alive with builders! When Arne talks about his ideas it can feel rather like he's talking about his long term ambitions for the garden. I'm learning not take anything for granted though, Arne is a man of action and as a result the garden at Allt-y-bela is constantly evolving.

A new gardener's potting shed is being installed into a shed beside the studio along with another toilet which will be especially helpful for courses and tours, and it means that I won't be trudging through the kitchen in my muddy boots quite so often!

In the garden a cobbled rear terrace has been added, which not only helps connect the complicated architecture but will also be a place to sit out and eat in summer. There are other changes planned for this space but I'll let you know about those as they happen! At the front there is finally a cobbled path to the courtyard and the front door, again it is the beginning of a larger scheme but this first phase has already made a great difference. Back behind the house a birdbath which has, for as long as I've been at Allt-y-bela, sat waiting behind the workshop, has been placed on a new cobbled plinth amongst the box lattice. Its new location is outside of the snug window and adds a layer that I wasn't aware was missing from the lattice. It's strange how the smaller things can sometimes have the biggest impact.

The hard landscaping is finished for the moment but in the new potting shed the work goes on. On Monday the garden was filled with the very unfamiliar sound of Radio 1 as site radios boomed out across the usually tranquil garden. Now, on Friday, with blue skies, frost and quiet the garden feels like it's returned to its natural state; timeless, peaceful and beautiful.

Time away has really given me a greater sense of perspective and an appreciation of Allt-y-bela as a whole. The incongruity of Radio 1 and noise only reinforces what a special place this is, connected but outside of the world around it.

Words: Steve Lannin, Head Gardener at Allt-y-bela

Photographs: Britt Willoughby Dyer© Arne Maynard Garden Design 2017 - reproduction of content and / or photographs only by request.

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