Gardening: Woodland shade in Ashurst Wood

PUBLISHED: 02:08 20 May 2012 | UPDATED: 21:24 20 February 2013

Gardening: Woodland shade in Ashurst Wood

Gardening: Woodland shade in Ashurst Wood

Leigh Clapp enjoys the subtle shades in the dappled light of the woodland garden at 2 Quarry Cottages in Ashurst Wood

Florist Hazel Anne Archibald has created a peaceful little garden around her cottage in Ashurst Wood over 40 years and for the past three years she has been sharing it with visitors through the National Gardens Scheme. This is a garden that will in particular inspire ideas for working with shade to create a pretty, layered effect.

The garden, now quite settled and mature, was created from an overgrown, unloved site. The house was condemned, there was no garden there as it was completely covered with brambles. Our first task was just to find a way into the house. It took six months of bonfires to find the ground, said Hazel.

After they had renovated and extended the house, the garden slowly began to take shape. The main lawn was seeded and a selection of trees and shrubs, including beech started from a beechnut, conifers, birches, camellias, lilac, magnolias and hydrangeas, were added to the south-facing sloping garden, before lower level plants could be planted to get the true woodland layered effect. Structure was added by hand-building retaining walls, steps and a patio, using sandstone from some chimneys that were being discarded by the local Brambletye School.

Over the years the gardens herbaceous palette evolved as the upper canopy matured. I was brought up in the forest so I really like the woodland effect. I do like the trees and know it does restrict what you can grow.
To some extent I have allowed the garden to grow what it wants to grow, adding plants that suit and leaving things that do well, said Hazel.

From experience, Hazel has learnt that the most successful understorey plants that thrive in the conditions are hellebores that happily self-seed through the garden, primroses, bluebells, ferns and aquilegias. In addition Hazel has a great trick for adding seasonal colour. She pops in containers, such as streptocarpus, amongst the plantings and also has charming eclectic displays by the door of her attached florists studio.

A sunny corner of the garden has been retained as an ideal spot for a productive vegetable plot.
The raised beds brim with an array of vegetables and herbs, some in containers, others scrambling up supports. Another area, sunken and protected from the weather, allows more exotic plantings including fatsias and olives. Overall, Hazel has created a green oasis with highlights of soft tones in blues and mauves.

It is now easier to handle the garden, although there is always something to tweak. My aim is to make it as easy to maintain as possible, apart from the veg garden which needs the most care, Hazel added.

The opportunity to open the garden through the National Gardens Scheme came about from a customers suggestion. I must admit I was nervous as I had seen many of the grand gardens in the scheme, however people enjoy visiting here as they see it as an attainable garden and one kind gentleman even commented that he found it amazing how many plants I have been able to grow in the shade, said Hazel.

2 Quarry Cottages,
Ashurst Wood, RH19 3TQ
Friday 18, Saturday 19 May (2-5)
The National Gardens Scheme

Also open for local pre-school,
Sunday 20 May
Hazel Anne Florist tel: 01342 823728

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