There are no silver bells or cockle shells in Mary Eastwood's garden in Timperley

PUBLISHED: 20:17 31 October 2012 | UPDATED: 22:16 20 February 2013

There are no silver bells or cockle shells in Mary Eastwood's garden in Timperley

There are no silver bells or cockle shells in Mary Eastwood's garden in Timperley

There are no silver bells or cockle shells in Mary Eastwood's garden in Timperley, but it's certainly very pretty. Mary gave Keith Plant a guided tour

Small gardens are best! You might miss out on the sweeping lawns, the glorious borders and the wide-angled views. But you really have to admire the creativity of those who make something special out of an urban back garden.

These gardeners are often slightly obsessive and are invariably very knowledgeable and passionate about plants. After all, they are working against the odds; plants have to be packed into all the available spaces, often fighting for light and competing for nutrients. Planning a small garden means that you have to use height and theres often a fantastic array of trees for such a small space.

Mary Eastwoods Timperley garden is a bit special not least because Mary is a bit special. A sprightly 84-year-old, she floats around her precious garden like a butterfly. Its often said that enthusiasm for projects wanes with age: anyone looking for contrary evidence should meet Mary.

Its impossible to stop her talking about her plants, projects and passions. Like all great gardeners shes keen to share her considerable knowledge and generous to the point of giving her plants away once she is sure that youll administer the appropriate tender loving care.

She just cant abide gimmicks flashy television gardeners definitely come bottom of her list. She believes that a garden evolves naturally and with love, not with annual makeovers to ship in this years trendy accessories. She heartily recommends going out to say hello to your plants first thing each morning!

Of course the garden is organic and environmentally friendly. Mary is particularly proud of heritage varieties: one towering pear tree was planted in 1934 by her mother. Its a variety called Louise Bonne de Jersey Pear and thick with blossom when I visit. Mary says that its a really sweet and juicy early variety that knocks spots off modern commercial strains. It was first recorded in 1774 and Mary would be surprised but delighted to know if theres another one in Cheshire.

Indeed the house and garden is part of her own heritage: it was started in 1928 the year she was born and became hers in 1975. Since then she has invested heavily not always with money, but with time. She and her husband David have also committed over 60 years of support as stewards at Dunham Massey and she has opened her garden to visitors on countless occasions. And she simply loves to share it not out of pride or boastfulness but from sheer generosity of spirit.

Mary is also proud that with careful planning, she has evolved a truly all-year round garden so there is something of interest every month. It was a warm March this year followed by a cold wet April and plenty more rain over the summer the weather tried its hardest but there were still many things thriving with the clear promise of more continuous colour ahead.

When I leave, I reflect that I am exhausted by Marys energetic conversation about her beloved plants as well as gratified by the amount of time she has given me, often standing outside in the rain. And Im quietly overwhelmed by what she has achieved, given and preserved for the wider gardening community.

She and husband David celebrate 50 years of marriage this year and they recognise the extent to which developing the garden has supported their relationship. But you can be sure they wont be resting on their laurels.

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