History of the garden

The house is in Herefordshire, sitting at just over 300 metres (1000 feet) above sea level, some 200 metres on the English side of the Welsh border.

At the time of purchase in 1958, the house and buildings were semi-derelict and the garden, extending to all of two metres from the front of the house, contained one laurel bush which is just visible in the black and white photograph above. By the time the house had been made habitable, three years had gone by, another wall had been built six metres further away and a lawn established at the back of the house.

Since then the garden has progressively rolled down the south facing bank, drawn to what was the farm’s strategic water reserve some 250 feet below and incorporated into the garden in 1994, thereby creating space to indulge a great love for planting more shrubs and trees. In total it is just under two hectares (five acres) which includes just over half an acre of under-planted woodland and a similar area of water (the Oak Pool).

The garden benefits from ten mature English oaks, most of which have been there for over two hundred years. One is much older and I like to think it was planted when the original farmstead was built, a surviving wall of which bears a date stone of 1623. That oak stands at over 300 metres (1000 feet) above sea level and shares with the farm house a view of the Black Mountains to the south and Wrekin to the north.

Oak Pool, 1986

The garden in 1988

Conservatory extension, 1989

Apart from around the house there are few herbaceous areas and apart from the hedges marking its boundary, few straight lines. Mown grass paths wind between shrubs and trees planted from the late sixties, and still being planted now. We have no plans to extend the area but there are always parts of the garden being re-developed – and there is always room for another shrub, and even another sculpture to join the eleven already there.

Simon and Caroline Gourlay

Through the years