Veddw an English garden with marvels
The Bad-Tempered Gardener was in a good mood on the day I met her.
Anne Wareham, who wrote a book named for her perceived disposition, is a well-known English gardener, author and columnist who also appears on television.
I wrote to her a few months ago to tell her how much I enjoyed her book, and to my surprise, she emailed a chatty reply. After a few more exchanges, I told her I was going to be in England in September, and she invited me to visit her garden in Wales even though the tourist season would be over and visits were closed for the year.
Veddw is not your typical English garden. Anne never uses a hoe because her plants are too tightly packed to allow weeds to peek through, and her flowers grow and spread with abandon. The two acres of Veddw are filled with a wonderful profusion of plants that have been set in place with carefully hidden order and precision.
As a thinking grdener, she is bursting with creativity and new ideas, which are included in the garden and expressed in her writing. Of course, nothing is really finished because there is always room for change, experimentation and improvement.
One outstanding feature is the hedge garden, a wonderful vista of undulating hedges and pillars of yew and beech, making shapes in three dimensions and seeming to shift into new designs as one’s vantage point changes.
Beyond the hedges, one comes into the grasses parterre. Here, low-box hedges have been planted to reflect an 1841 tithe map of the area, and each space is filled with a species of grass in an acknowledgement of the history of the site.
The surrounding agricultural landscape is visible from this spot and becomes an extension of the garden.
A reflecting pool is a focal point. After many experiments with shape, size and color, she has found the ideal. The pool reflects the shapes of the wavy hedges with a wonderfully designed and inscribed bench in a gap, followed by the grasses parterre, a sunlit coppice of magnolia and beech, and finally a strip of sky. This is a magical place to sit and dream.
Moving on to plants, which are really not the most important components of the garden, the year begins with a profusion of small Welsh daffodils and moves on through displays of persicaria, thalictrum, hostas, rosebay willowherb, daylilies, crocosmia and many more.
It is hard to put into words just how the flowers, trees and shrubs all do their part in creating the garden without pushing themselves forward to show off their own attributes.
Words cannot do justice to Veddw. But words are an integral part of the garden. Anne uses words to acknowledge past residents of the area with such touches as simulated wooden tombstones up in the woods that surround the garden, and with names and dates painted on benches.
There also is a gate inscribed with a patronizing account of the wood colliers, mule-drivers and laborers who lived in “wretched huts” in the nearby village of Devauden. This was written in the 19th century by the biographer of a “benefactor” and reflects clearly the social structure and prejudice of the time.
This column is an incomplete account of Veddw. I have not mentioned the alchemilla mollis that borders the lawns, doing away with the need for clipped and formal edges, the conservatory filled with succulents, the wild garden, the crescent border, the roses and hydrangeas, the cut-out ornamental buzzards, the avenue, the veg garden filled with overwhelming cardoons and so much more.
I loved the garden, and came away with the knowledge it reflects the woman who created it. Garden and gardener, both one of a kind.
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.