The vehicular entrance to the Old Vicarage contains our interpretation of a municipal roundabout! At its centre a clipped Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Umbraculifera’, around this are eight clipped Ilex ‘Golden King’ and sixteen Yews, again clipped as pyramids. This works as an architectural statement whose formality may be softened with extra planting as and when the mood takes us. The roundabout was enclosed with a variegated Box hedge but then Jimmy Goddard from Steelscapes came to install a steel edge to freshen it up. He showed us some rather fetching steel fencing that he had constructed and captivated by this we removed the Box hedging and asked Jimmy to enclose our roundabout with steel fencing approximately 30 centimetres back from the new steel edge. This allows for a strip of planting in front of the new steel basketwork fence that now encloses the roundabout, which lends an air of modernity to the garden thanks to the skill and artistry of Jimmy Goddard.

Moving on we pass through a blue gate, its supports ornamented with gilded spheres and find ourselves in the pedestrian entrance court. The gate here is known as the ‘Postman’s Gate’ because he or she is the only person to use it. Above this gate is a large terracotta coat of arms of the City of Manchester. We bought this many years ago, not because either of us has any connection with Manchester, but for the motto Consilio et Labore. By counsel and labour, roughly interpreted by discussion and damn hard work. Not a bad one for two jobbing gardeners. This area has very gravelly soil and is free draining. Each year we bed this out with a variety of succulents, Aeonium Arboreum ‘Zwartkop’ taking centre stage.

Turning to face the front door of the house we proceed through a gate in the wall to the North Garden. This area is a complete contrast to the entrance drive and courtyard which is hot and dry. Here we enter a green jungle containing palm trees, tree ferns and two particularly good magnolias. Magnolia cylindrica with large white flowers in April, followed by large red seed capsules in September and October and Magnolia ‘Caerhays Belle’ with huge pink flowers 20cms (8inches) across in March which are breathtaking when seen against an azure sky.

Previous GardenNext Garden
Back to Garden List