There’s so much to see at Honnington Farm Gardens
Within the garden, more unusual trees have been planted for wind protection allowing more exotic plants to co-exist with the swathes of colourful perennials. Malus border a wildflower meadow and a natural swimming pool that is filtered by native bogplants. The deep panoply of trees produce many shaded areas with unusual underplantings.
There are 2 natural lakes. One is home to about 50 ducks and a migrant flock of Canada geese who join in a noisy feeding time at about 3pm. The other lake is fed from a small stream that meanders through a bog garden, producing a waterfall in the wetter months. The bank is home to a large golden Willow, which trails its branches among the Waterlilies and is surrounded by Gunnera, Rodgersia and Ligularia. Moorhens and Coots hide among the reeds. A grey Heron can be found every morning feeding on the Carp and the occasional flash of sparkling blue shows the Kingfisher has the same tastes.
There is more than a nod towards the fashionable European prairie-style naturalism as seen in the use of grasses with perennials, which blend with the wilder areas. The heavy clay soil supports many fine Rose specimens and climbers ramble over arbours and pergolas with gravel paths providing a quiet foil to the tumbling edges of Alchemilla and Lavender.
Sculptures are nestled in borders or at the end of a view. Work in progress can be viewed with prior arrangement. For an experiment we are trying to grow azaleas on underlying clay soil, so we are trying German hybrids which are expected to grow better on soil which is not perfectly acid.
Another trial in 2012 has been to try and grow a crescent rose hedge in a previously uncultivated pasture (sunny area) – from a reputable rose grower – which we hope will be vigorous enough for cutting the flowers. The area was rotivated – well rotted manure and planted in mypex to suppress weeds – each hole had a fist full of root grow but unfortunately although surviving, there has been little growth.
Five graduated pools have been installed on the boundary of the rough meadow and are now beginning to naturalise – the ducks and deer think of it as their special preserve.
A planned future project is to weed kill and rotavate strips of the rough meadow to try to extend the wildflower meadow – if it ever stops raining!
Near that area are two bee hives which are struggling in the weather conditions but hopefully when we are able to plant the new thyme beds this will give them added feeding areas. We do try to concentrate on flowers and foliage that benefit honey and bumble bees.
If the survival rate in the garden is good we hope the tree ferns (dicksonians) and outdoor banana (musa) will be sending up new plants having reappeared from under their fleece ‘overcoats’.
If you visit in early summer the garden explodes with colour and variety to please the wildlife and visitors. Irises, roses, begonia, clematis, alliums, Hemerocallis (day lilies), eremurus (foxtail ladies), trailing pelagoniums and tree peonies will all be jostling for attention. The drive is lined with Phormiums as a nod to the New Zealand connection.
We are attempting to extend the flowering season in the garden by planting chrystanthemums, rudbeckia and coreopsis.
We have resident roe and fallow deer and a thriving badger population which usually keep to the wooded areas. However, due to the excessively cold spring of 2013, they managed to decimate most of the tulips in the front borders as well as digging out all the potted tulips next to the house. This had not been experienced previously in all the years of gardening here. So, in a moment of inspiration curry powder was sprinkled on all the pots and the picnic stopped forthwith. Obviously curry isn’t on the menu of badgers…
Throughout the year we feed the wild birds from many stations around the Conservatory Garden and are rewarded with a variety of residents and visitors. It has been lovely to see that the Starling family who used to nest under the front eaves have now increased and we regularly see a murmuration of about 30 flying over. To hear and see the sparrows is also a delight, especially when a host of 20 or so hide in a bush and fall silent as we approach, then restart their noisy chirping when we are out of sight.
Garden information at a glance:
- Pre-booked lunches & teas available.
- Picnic area with far reaching views.
- Lakes with wild fowl (bird feeding by arrangement).
- The gravels paths unfortunately are not suitable for wheelchair users.
- Cuttings taken on request.
- Plant crèche for housemovers.
- Resident sculptor.