Delightful garden in Davenham, Cheshire
PUBLISHED: 17:57 14 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:10 20 February 2013
Doug and Ann Welch created their dream garden from scratch at their Davenham home...and then along came the JCBs
Its everyones dream. Buy a rural plot for your own home with the potential for a half acre valley gardenhave the beautiful house built to your own specificationmove inlandscape the magnificent garden.enjoy.
How wonderful, and all of this really happened to Doug and Ann Welch when they built their home just outside Davenham 30 years ago. But along came a sting in the tale. The garden was maturing nicely when a letter arrived from the local authority saying that major pipe laying work was needed across their land. The garden would have to be dug up. Top soil would have to be taken away. JCBs would be arriving to do the digging. The pipes were 18 inches wide you could crawl through them. Honestly, our carefully created garden looked like a first world war battlefield, recalls Doug ruefully.
Everyone would be heartbroken and many would give up, but the Welchs redoubled their efforts and started again. All this was many years ago and their little valley has now matured into a colourful treasure trove of planting. But Im often reminded of the nightmare if I dig out a new bed I still find lots of builders rubble, smiles Doug. I suppose its better than digging up unexploded shells on the Somme.
Their magnificent herbaceous border is definitely the jewel in the crown of this deceptively created garden
Youll have gathered by now that Doug and Ann manage to combine a passionate energy for their garden with a philosophical approach. When I visit they are just as enthusiastic about the self-seeding rosebay willow herb and teasel (Its surprising what seeds crop up) as they are about their magnificent herbaceous border which is definitely the jewel in the crown of this deceptively created garden. All garden design is about borrowing ideas and this was originally based upon a border design from the Royal Horticultural Society at Wisley but has now developed its own distinctive character.
Its easy to forget how small this garden is as walkways take you up and down, backwards and forwards. Apparently children love it because its easy to get lost among the paths, some of which are surrounded by high planting. The genius is in fully exploiting the gardens most precious asset the height and the changes of height - the view across the valley from the raised patio must be one of the most satisfying viewpoints of any garden.
Its abundantly clear that a great deal of hard work has gone into creating this landscape -and consequently there are discoveries to be made everywhere. Progress doesnt stop: new border features are restlessly developed. Theres also a resourceful approach. Right at the back is a large stump from an ash tree which had to be felled. The Welchs asked a local chainsaw sculptor to put life into the dead wood and they now have a much admired sculpture of a buzzard. It was much photographed when they opened their garden for charity last year, raising 1,500 in the process.
But the overwhelming feeling is of the success of striking and audacious planting. Theres no fear or compromise here: cool and gentle colours are blasted with a sudden splash of vermillion while conversely a subtly shaded gladioli timidly pokes its head from a border of riotous colour.
However my over-riding memory will be of how hard it was to photograph the garden without a butterfly or dragonfly drifting into view. The thoughtful combination of native plants, a naturalised pond and a lack of chemicals has also resulted in a home for wildlife and a triumph over the diggers that mutilated it all those years ago.