Dawnedge Lodge, Bedfordshire
This lovely garden in Bedfordshire has borders brimming with glorious blooms that are perfect for cutting.
Plants come first in the walled garden at Dawnedge Lodge, in Bedfordshire. The first sight that greets you is a wide border filled with delicate drifts of flowers and the scent of lavender and roses. Filled with riotous blooms that look as beautiful in the borders as they do in indoor flower arrangements, this garden is a celebration of cottage garden plants.
The traditional brick walls surrounding the garden create a perfect backdrop for the borders. .
The original garden was created in the Victorian period, but was brought back to life by over 10 years ago by owners Lynne and Phil Wallace.
At this time, the garden was just a lawn and one small bed about 4ft wide. A digger was brought in to clear some of the messier areas. One of the first things to go was the base of an old greenhouse that had been unsuccessfully adapted into a rose bed by the previous owner.
Lynne had always longed for a walled garden and was keen to keep to a traditional layout, with a big expanse of lawn and straight borders around the edges.
This garden was developed with wide borders, and one island bed in the middle of the grass. A stone path, below a rose-covered pergola, crosses the lawn to an Alitex greenhouse and a small cutting garden. At the back of the garden there was once an old privet hedge, which was later replaced with a willow wicker fence. This looked out of place, so four years ago a wall was built to match the older ones on the other sides, to fully enclose the garden.
The traditional look is in keeping with the surrounding area and the age of the house. Instead of quirky structural features, the plants make the impact.
The beds are filled with an abundance of cottage garden plants – including delicate drifts of Alchemilla mollis, pale pink astrantia and hardy geraniums. “Some people might think it looks messy,” says Lynne. “But I love plants and don’t have the heart to be strict about it.” One of her favourite flowers is alstroemeria, which proves its worth by always flowering through to November.
Herbaceous perennials are particularly valuable in the garden. The plants in the borders cluster around large terracotta pots, which create focal points. Plants thrive in the sandy loam soil. However, it dries out quickly in the summer, so a simple irrigation system was installed six years ago to cut down on the amount of time spent watering.
Lynne faces a continual battle with the speed at which everything grows. She sometimes has to choose between pruning hard, with the possibility of the garden looking contrived, or removing shrubs and having to put up with gaps for a while. The overflowing beds, with plants blending together in a vivid patchwork, create a lovely effect.
Lynne is enthusiastic about the benefits of visiting other people’s gardens for inspiration, and is particularly drawn to those that bear the description ‘plantaholic’s garden’. She believes there should be more of everything for the best effect: “I admire people who garden to excess!” Her favourite place to visit is Coton Manor, in Northamptonshire, which has borders overflowing with every type of romantic cottage garden plant.
Opening for the NGS gives her the chance to meet with people from all over the country who love gardening as much as she does.
Some problems occur every year. Slugs and snails attack the plants, and hostas have to be planted in pots to protect them. The couple are keen to encourage thrushes into the garden, as natural control.
The garden provides plenty of cut flowers, which Lynne uses in simple bunches, bringing colour indoors and brightening up rooms.
Lynne’s passion for plants is evident in the lovingly tended explosion of colours and scents.
She claims all her favourites begin with an ‘A’, such as alliums, agapanthus, astrantia, and alstroemerias, but “maybe it’s because I have so many favourites that I can’t get far beyond ‘A’, or I would be listing them for ever!”
To see all the plants Lynne adores, from A to Z, visit Dawnedge Lodge and share her enthusiasm.
Tel. 01908 582233
Adult admission £3.
Visitors welcome by appointment in May, June and July.
Herbaceous perennials thrive in the sandy loam soil
The borders are packed with colour and plants
Roses and clematis cling to the pergola making a colourful spectacle