I’m not sure how big the beds are and I can’t be bothered to go out and measure them – say 12 feet diameter, but that’s a guess. 3 of them. I’ve probably said that already. There used to be an Anderson shelter there during the war where the family decamped when the air raid siren went off. In the summer, the Sprig* slept out there in his little siren suit. A line was attached to the front door knocker so that he could rouse his parents if he needed them. I’ve no idea what it looked like or how safe it was: I’d have thought there was more protection from a bomb in the house, unless it was on fire.
Anyway, I went off to the marvellous local nursery, B100ms of Bress1ngh@m and got one of their catalogues. I’m afraid that since the family sold it, it’s become a poor shadow of its previous self. They used to raise much of their stock and cultivate many new varieties, they had a vast range of interesting plants and a comprehensive and helpful catalogue. Now the nursery and glasshouses are abandoned and the garden centre sells pre-packed and bought-in plants and a lot of garden-related stuff and it’s a lot more expensive than it used to be.
What I wanted was a range of shrubs that wouldn’t grow more than about 4 feet tall, had some variety in leaf colour and shape, that some of them would be evergreen and that they would thrive in poor, sandy soil and a sun-baked location. I wasn’t too bothered about flowers, though obviously some flowers would be an advantage. I bought about 25 or 30 plants and spent £100 and some of them are still there. Two of the beds are nearly all sand and stone and it’s really quite difficult to get anything to thrive, but the third is almost as I planted it. As planned, it needs little weeding and no watering after the first year or two. I reckoned that anything that had to be cosseted was in the wrong place. The few more unusual plants didn’t survive in the long term.
In the house, we’d had a lot of work done before we moved in. A new roof, windows, kitchen and bathroom, it was rewired and completely redecorated and we had an Aga installed. Not all the rooms were painted before we moved and the local painter and decorator came along when he had a few free hours and did some work, usually by finishing early and coming here in the early evening. We used to chat as he worked, if he was within talking distance, and we had a glass of wine together before he went home. Nice man. He retired a few years ago and he and his wife live in a village by the sea now.