This month I’d like to show you the changes the setting of Ednovean Farm has seen as it evolved from the combination of a Farmyard, a sand ménage and open field to the sub tropical gardens that you will find surrounding our home today.
I must admit it was searching through our photo box for some pre digital photos for our website “about us” page that inspired this first blog of the New Year. So some of the snaps today are pro photos that used to be used for publicity, before moving on to my usual more relaxed snaps that I usually share with you.
As it is quite a big garden now I’ve concentrated on the first “beginnings” when we started work to remodel the old farmyard near to the house into a series of Mediterranean inspired courtyard spaces.
1991 and the change began from a farmyard to garden
The old farmyard had been sunk low into the hillside over the centuries and the first recorded occupation of the site points towards a church in 1290. The buildings were tucked low under the sky line because in those dark days, danger could come from the seas and the tempting silhouette of a settlement could bring danger – in fact the Barbary pirates were still snatching people from Penzance as late as the 17th Century. This precaution left us shielded from the cold Easterly winds but with a challenging lack of topsoil near to the house.
We spent a year prior to our marriage in 1991 renovating a 17th century barn on the site before removing the concrete that surrounded our house and then proudly patted down the surrounding area as we made our first home together.
It was only in the year 2000 that we seriously considered making a courtyard garden in the old farmyard, inspired by the Mediterranean and a line from Gladiator about the “Palms, Olives, Lavender and sweetly scented Jasmine.” So the germ of an idea formed and after exploring the local library for Italianate design I gladly handed the enormous tomb unearthed there to an experienced garden designer, Ian Lowe (sorry now retired) with the immortal words “I’d like a parterre included”
The Parterre was not such a strange choice for a novice gardener as our home and gardens also has to work hard welcoming our Bed and Breakfast guests, so a strong structure and form to the garden would help it to look good in every season.
The Parterre and courtyard garden
The courtyard garden was approached from the top farmyard, now a car park via an initial formal garden flanked by an entrance path of reclaimed granite setts – this leads in turn towards a hedge dissecting the area that artfully conceals the rest of the courtyard from this first entrance.
Ian worked with the levels in the gently sloping farmyard (employing a JCB) to add a raised terrace by the front door with a “Bum height wall” which would look down on the Parterre and allow a flight on step on one side to allow us to display some lovely inherited hand carved stone planters.
Ian was also able to squeeze three more side courtyards into the farmyard by a clever manipulation of space: A small enclosed focal point at the end of the terrace faced by the front door
and a raised Lutyens style half-moon that holds a bench as a viewing area for the Parterre (it has to be said this is mostly used by the cat who treasures the seclusion there!)
and a Dining space just beside the house, that holds an original farm pump.
Finally a small lawn was laid with the boundary soften by a cordon of fig trees encircling two and later a third Date Palm.
The sundial garden
With the first project completed I felt confident to tackle a second formal garden behind the house on my own using the surplus box plants, a little baler twine to frame a sundial bought a few years before for our third wedding anniversary. This area appears slightly sunken below a bank planted with sheltering Phormium and palm to protect us from the south-westerly gales of the open seas.
The outer garden
By 2002 the desire for green grass and topsoil had driven the garden plans onwards to make a further sweeping lawn above Mounts bay encircled by Cordyline Australis smuggled home one at a time from Safeway’s at £1.00 each.
Finally the horses sand school was repurposed into an Italian Garden of intimate garden rooms and just lately I’ve had a little more time to think about redesigning and reclaiming each space.
On our open hillside above the village of Perranuthnoe making shelter for the garden from the sea breezes was one of the first priorities and an encircling hedge of discreet blue-grey Olearia with fine almost rosemary like leaves that makes a tough protection for the plants without detracting from the lovely views across Mounts bay.
The life of the garden
Our garden has see so many changes and every year and if you follow my garden diary each month, you’ll know that there is always a little project to dream about or to tinker with and whilst I used to joke that I knew nothing about plants but could always find the check out at the garden centre I notice that these days I’ve magically started to hoard cuttings taken through the year for different projects…. and the garden year has only just begun!
And finally this December in the garden
In our December garden spring has come early with the first Daffodils already in flower!
So over the course of twenty eight years from our first faltering beginnings the garden here has grown and blossomed – slightly larger than absolutely necessary probably beauce when we opened for the National Garden Scheme I took the need for forty five minutes interest to mean “Keep garden guest walking for forty five minutes!” but I love every inch of the garden though and look forward to showing you its progress throughout the year