Sue & Jim Stockwell's garden 2011
(by Sue & Jim Stockwell)


We moved from Gatesmead to our present house in 1995. Life was very busy for the first 10 years or so, but as our children moved on and we moved into semi retirement, we had more time to make changes to the garden. The “L” shaped plot is set well back from Denmans Lane and the rear of the garden has a long boundary with Denmans Lane allotments. In total the site amounts to about an acre.The soil is heavy clay, but with plenty of muck most things grow very well. There are areas with different conditions. These photos show the garden in 2010 and 2011 and illustrate some of the work undertaken in the past 2 years.


The white rose at the rear is “A Whiter Shade of Pale” and is a brilliant rose – it repeats throughout the summer and had very clean dark green foliage and no blackspot!

In spring 2011 Jim rebuilt the pond in the front garden. The pond was only completed in early July and here you see it in mid-August. The planting in the front is a mixture of short hardy annuals from Pictorial Meadows – we are delighted with the wide colour mix which started with pastels seen here, and moved on to yellows and oranges later in the season. The totem pole at the rear was created by Sue a few years ago and tall oranges flowers to the left are Ligularia madrona – one of our favourites – it loves the damp conditions – but watch out for slugs!The birds love waiting in turn to take a bath in the water fall.The rose bed to the right was planted in 2009 and 2010.

In early 2007 we erected a 20ft diameter Solardome greenhouse, which is great for big tender exotics like Brugmansias, Bouganvilleas, Strelitzias, Clivias, Hedichiums, Prostantheras, as well as begonias, tomatoes and peppers.The bed in the front used to be full of heathers, but in spring 2011 we ripped it all out and replanted with grasses, erigeron, zantedechias, francoas and lots of verbena bonariensis. I also include a few delphiniums – the one on the right is called “Darling Sue” so you’ll understand why I could resist!

In 2010 we re-configured the area behind the swimming pool. This entailed building up a wall using hessian sacks filled with dry concrete mix. This is hard work, but very flexible. The finished result is shown in the photo on the right. The raised beds have mainly been planted with herbs while the bed to the rear has been planted as an exotic hot bed.

In 2010
we also built a new formal pond and Yew hedge in the rear garden. The idea was to create a tranquil area with clear water to catch reflections and “borrowed” views to the distant Ashdown forest and to break up the rear garden and draw the eye towards the path at the back.

A wide path
of mown grass has been created from the rear of the yew circle. Tall meadow grass is planted with spring bulbs (daffodils, fratillaries and camassias) together with fruit trees. We’ve also planted 3 wisterias trained up poles – they are very small as yet, but over the next few years should mature in to fine small weeping trees, covered in scented blossom in May and June!

The lower garden is used for vegetable and fruit, along with shrubs (see photo below right). This area is incredibly dry, both because of the trees and because it appears to have been used as a rubbish dump in the early 20th century – every time I dig a new area I pull out bucketfuls of broken bottles – really vicious!

The Acer at the rear is “Bloodgood” and yellow and variegated shrubs such as Holly Golden King (actually a female!) have been planted for contrast.