Rebecca Smith - Garden design & consultancy
 

August Days

August rolled in with a shock of heavy rain of the 1st but this has since been followed with days of hot golden hazy sunshine. It is 'proper' summer weather, with the heat shimmering of the fields and in the garden. The fields around us are being cut and, on some nights, the noise of the combine harvesters working away send us off to sleep with a lullaby of muffled machinery. 

The field opposite the house is owned by the Big House but used for all and sundry to walk their dogs and was the site of WyckFest held earlier in July. It gets cut once a year for hay which goes to their stables. From my second floor office windows, I have a great view of everything happening in Wyck. 

Cutting Hay in Wyck

I love that the tiny hamlet of Wyck is totally surrounded by agricultural land on all four sides. When we first moved here in the bitter cold of January 2012, friends, making their first visit would ring (if they could get a mobile signal), and tell me they were lost. 'What can you see?' I'd ask. 'Fields on both sides' was the normal reply. Just keep driving I'd always say...

After spending rather too much time and money on this house, we have taken things slowly in the garden. We have been letting it develop organically rather than making a master plan to be executed all at once. This site is very different from our previous house in Haslemere; the setting is far more rural, it is a Georgian house of solid build, designed for farmers and until the 1990's the home of the local Farm Manager, compared to the Arts & Crafts house of Tudor origin we left in 2012. That garden lent itself to deep borders shaded beneath a venerable cedar of Labenon whilst this garden is less about grass tennis courts and afternoon tea and more about being productive, taking for visual cues the surrounding fields of grain and creating shelter belts from the incessant wind. We have planted hedges, fruit trees, future topiary and this winter the formal rose garden will be created on the west side of the house.

The very first thing we decided to do in the garden was to plant an orchard in the autumn of 2012. It seemed the right thing to do in this garden and I really missed my previous kitchen garden. I choose fruit trees based on our favourites and appropriate names. 'American Mother' is one. 'Granny Smith' is another. Royal Gala for The Blonde one and I tried to buy 'Court of Wick' but is was, sadly, sold out at Otter Farm but I shall try again this year! There is something rather soothing about planting fruit trees, it is a chance to plan for the future and to say that this is 'home'.

Planting Fruit Trees

The westerly winds which we had been warned about by a garden designer friend whipped through Wyck the winter of 2012 and the poor new orchard looked as if it wold be a tangled mess of stunted trees so I made the decision to plant a hedge around the orchard in January 2013. The wet cold weather was not ideal for the 220 bare-root yew hedging plants which went in, and for a year or two I thought they would just turn up their toes and die but it has been worth the expense and the wait.

Planting the Yew Hedge

We used timber edging along the hedge line. I use this as a visual aide now when trimming the hedge and take it back to this straight line. 

Planting the Yew Hedge

This summer the hedge has had it's first 'proper' cut, by me, the old-fashioned way using just hedge shears. The faces are in line with the timber edging used when planting them but I think the top will be somewhat undulating, we'll see how that works out. I love to see the difference between the first winter they were in place compared with how healthy they look now. 

Yew Hedge, Summer 2016

We have also added a fruit cage from Harrod Horticulture to the garden this year together with yet more yew hedging to surround what will become the kitchen garden. Beech hedging was put at the east end where it continues the original hedge which defines our property boundary. Blueberries, gooseberries, white and red currants, tayberry, wineberry and thornless blackberry are all thriving in the new space, all under planted with either calendula or nasturtian to aid with pollination. 

Fruit Cage, Wyck Farmhouse

Fasciation in the calendula

For those of you who missed the transformation here is a clue of what the west side of the house looked like before we did the building works. White render and leaded windows added at some time between 1913 and 1926 make the house look like it is actually an Arts & Crafts building.

Before Renovation

The original entrance to the house was on this west facing side but the layout was changed in the early part of the 20th century. We removed the render and discovered the new door was in almost the same position as the original door. 

Unblocking the blocked door

New Door

Then came the magic moment when the scaffolding finally came down and we could see what the house was going to look like properly!

No scaffolding

The garden on this side of the house is mostly non-existant. This is the current view:

Future rose garden

It's an odd sized space, nearly triangular, with a high thuja hedge between us and the neighbours. A lovely old red brick retaining wall on the left stops people looking in from the lane, which is below the level of the garden. We decided not to screen this side as we would miss the afternoon light too much and the wooden uprights and wires are for training rambling roses along to create a pleached scented rose hedge. It is working so far and I am really pleased by the level of scent which gets trapped here on hot days. The grass will all be removed and this will be heavily planted with paths and seated areas for evening gin and tonics in summer 2017.

This is another view from my office in the depths of winter. It needs structure, evergreen shrubs for winter interest and many more bulbs, grasses and perennials!

Garden in Winter

I cannot wait to see how this is going to look and am working on the planting plans for it at the moment while most of my clients are away on their holidays. 

PS:

Our architect for our house was Ian Adam-Smith and this is the third project we have worked with his office on since leaving London. The contractor was Darren Stone of Kettlebrook Construction whom I cannot praise highly enough. His team was great! Darren has more photos of our project on his website as well. 

 

 

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