|Chip with her first crop of cordon sweet peas, Mangotsfield 1988|
|The first thing we did in the front garden at Oldland was to put in a curved path and crowd in the cottage garden planting|
Because Chip suffered from ME for the last 25 years or so of her life, I did most of the grunt work – and hence the design, which was always done on the fly – but she continued to set the agenda and strategy, to choose (most of) the plants and do the sowing and pricking out and potting on and other delicate and essentially sedentary tasks, and now I'm going to have to be head gardener for the first time in my life. And, of course, as I made the current garden entirely for Chip and in her image, I'm going to have to find a new way to share it, as there's no point in creating something for an audience of me, which is why I'm starting this blog.
We made a total of three gardens together; the one in Oldland took 15 years, and the next, in a village on the Somerset Levels where we were constrained by landlords from really letting rip, five years. I'm sure to return to them later. We moved to this house in Devon in August 2010. In part because I had already had experience in landscaping for wildlife, but also because I felt there was a real imperative to get the place up together (we were in our sixties and considered this a last shot at making a garden together), I immediately set about transforming what was essentially a grassy slope that wrapped itself around the side and back of the house, and succeeded beyond my wildest dreams in creating a place ahum with insects and betwittered by birds, where Chip and I, between bouts of gardeners' twitch, lolled and blissed away every halfway sunny day of her last two summners.
|The garden just before we moved in in 2010, from the north-west corner|
|from a similar angle in July 2011|
|and in May 2012|