When we were down in London the other week I couldn't resist popping along to a group garden opening for the National Gardens Scheme (NGS). This one was a selection of three properties in the south-west London suburb of Hampton Hill. With its wide residential avenues and mixture of housing stock it was ripe for some garden inspiration and I wasn't disappointed.
The first property we went to was an inter-war semi-detached house. That's the great thing about visiting NGS gardens is that they are real gardens tended by ordinary but dedicated people. The roses in the front garden gave a flavour of what can be found round the back. Here a rambling rose hugs the back wall.
One of the striking features of the garden has nothing to do with plants or flowers but more to do with the practical history of the house. This little door leads down to the original World War II air raid shelter.
The mound that surrounds the air raid shelter has been used to build up a rockery complete with water feature.
As always I like to see a veg patch. The greenhouse is positioned right in the middle of the garden rather than being hidden away at the back. I can see some of the tomatoes have been planted directly into the soil in the greenhouse. I have seen this before but I've been unsure about not being able to move the plants around.
Next to the greenhouse is the outdoor veg patch. Runner beans are in position and the gooseberries looked nearly ready to pick. This was the only part of the garden with soil visible. Everywhere else was crammed with herbaceous plants and stunning architectural foliage.
Onto the next house which was round the corner. This was completely different. The house was one of five very large properties that were originally built on this road. The others have been knocked down or completely modified in some way. The house was originally surrounded by large grounds but these have been partially sold off over the years. However what remains of the garden is still enormous! The owners maintain it all themselves and were in a bit of a panic as only a week before the opening the house was covered in scaffolding.
With such space there are clear, dedicated areas. The light blue of the table and chairs give the eating area a fresh touch.
Behind the eating area was the vegetable patch therefore giving one of the shortest examples of field to fork.
I was interested to see that the spring bulbs are dug up each year and hung up by the tool shed. I keep mine in the ground but I'm not keen on the scruffy, yellowing leaves this method gives. What do you do with your spring bulbs after they have flowered?
We didn't bring the kids with us on this visit but I know they would have loved this expanse of lawn. It wasn't quite big enough for a full-sized tennis court but I'm sure I could have modified one!
The whole garden has been designed to be wildlife friendly and this is particularly evident in the two ponds.
The last garden was just across the road but what a difference! These houses were built much later and in a far less grand scale. What I did notice walking around was the popularity of water features in the gardens. This wasn't just in all three back gardens we looked at but also in the front gardens of others we passed by.
Going down the side passage one the first things we noticed was the colourful pots hung on the fences and the glass sculptures. Although this garden was quite compact it was divided into five garden rooms.
The continuing theme around the garden was of Africa. At the bottom there was a grass thatched exterior sitting room. Whilst admiring the view in them you were overlooked by a group of giraffe statues. The elephant next to them was another water feature and every couple of minutes it tilted up and water came sprouting out of its trunk. It's amazing what you find hiding at the back of a house!
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