Since 1982 owners Mike and Ann Thornton’s garden has undergone many incarnations before gradually maturing into the relaxing plant-filled space that it is today. Welcome to our second garden selected for Bloomtalk’s Garden of the Year, situated on the outskirts of Coundon, and nominated by Coundon resident Lionel Ames.
Hard landscaping plays an important role providing a rich variety of textures from the hewn stone paving interspersed with cobbles and gravel, to the vertical structural elements bringing height and colour. There’s the perfectly aligned ‘compass’ stone in the patio and the occasional stylised cairns that more than hint at Mike’s interest in climbing; elsewhere Ann’s passion for ceramics can be seen in the shape of a bold deep blue conical focal point, or the organic creations slowly being absorbed and softened into the planting.
Acers are one of the star attractions here with their shapes and filigree foliage providing both structure and colour in the garden. Mike explained: ‘the show of leaves at different times of the year makes them probably my favourite element of the garden. Their autumn colour is especially good.’ The huge flowers of Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’ hug the walls of the cottage, and heuchera, hellebores and herbs bring colour and scent to the borders.
As the garden starts to melt into the surrounding woodland, there is a circular bed containing 2 young monkey puzzles and a maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba – one of the oldest trees on earth – native to China and dating back to the Jurassic period). Elsewhere the understory is planted with ferns, geraniums, rhododendrons and hostas which thrive in the shade. Dogwood, Cornus alba, has also been used and its bright red stems will glow through the winter.
A neatly formed veg patch is home to onions, leeks, cabbages, cauliflowers, beans, salads and soft fruits. There are also pear and apple trees that have been trained over metal archways – the inspiration for which came from a family visit to the Lost Gardens of Heligan.
CopThe couple have created a handbook filled with photographs capturing everything from the heavy winter snows – and snowmen – through to the autumnal bounty of redcurrants, rosehips and fallen leaves. It is a personal journey through the garden’s year and reminds us to remember to stand and stare: ‘This garden is not just a one night stand, it changes during every part of the year and there’s always something different to see. I would encourage anybody to take photographs throughout the year in their garden to appreciate and enjoy these changes.’

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