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Garden of the month: Potmans Heath

PUBLISHED: 17:49 28 March 2014 | UPDATED: 17:49 28 March 2014

KEN APR 14 Garden of the month

KEN APR 14 Garden of the month

Archant

Find out how Wilma and Alan Lloyd Smith have developed their garden close to the fertile Wittersham Levels

Wilma and Alan Lloyd Smith have been developing the picturesque gardens around their attractive period house over the past 35 years.

Set close to the Isle of Oxney by 
the Wittersham Levels, the area is abundant with wildlife although the 
soil has been challenging.

“The marshland provides lush 
grazing, but the soil on the isle itself 
is less fertile, so our garden has been developed on heavy clay,” says Wilma.

“As such, all the flower beds have required and continue to require copious applications of mulching material.

“We use rotted stable manure, based 
on milled rapeseed stems, which is used 
for our horses’ bedding. In this way 
we are self sufficient in improving the 
soil in the garden.”

The resulting garden, set out in loose compartments, has a focus on trees with 
an apple and cherry orchard, along with 
a variety of ornamental trees, including many prunus, resulting in lovely displays of blossom through spring.

Further colour comes from widespread planting of bulbs each year for to achieve 
a successional display. “This starts with aconites and snowdrops in January. We plant Kaufmanniana tulips, followed by parrot, fringed and double, in pots that we place on steps and terraces,” says Wilma.

“These start flowering early in March, 
as do naturalised crocus, dwarf narcissi 
and irises. Every year we try to plant 
more daffodils and narcissi to naturalise 
in our lawns and we now have 50 or so different varieties to add to the planting 
of Lenten lilies, which were widespread when we first came.”

By the end of April vibrant tulips fringe the house and a particularly exciting use 
of these glorious bulbs is a colour-themed jewelled carpet in the long lawn.

Pink ‘Angelique’, purple ‘Recreado’ 
and ‘Blue Diamond’, along with white ‘Mount Tacoma’ all flowering together 
is a truly magical spring sight.

The only other garden where I have 
seen this innovative use is at Feeringbury Manor in Essex. If you’d like to try this 
at home, select tulips that will flower 
at the same time and plant in a scattered way within a designated space.

As spring turns to summer the garden glows with a large collection of roses, mainly climbers scrambling over pergolas and living structures, including ‘Albertine’, ‘Dublin Bay’ and ‘Golden Showers’.

The swimming pool garden has a fine display of bearded irises, which is followed by a pink and white border reaching its peak. Later in summer the garden gets 
a more exotic look from an array of pot-grown cannas and gingers.

After 35 years the garden is now pretty well complete, although there is always some new project in the offing.

“Every year we say we must have 
no more new ideas, but never stick 
to this!” says Alan. “We always find 
new trees to plant and this year we 
are putting more effort into our two greenhouses and vegetable garden.”

Both are equally involved in the 
garden, with Alan doing probably more 
of the manual moving of logs, clearing 
and cutting back. “The garden is definitely a combined effort and we both come up with creative ideas. We spend most days 
in the garden and tend to walk around 
and one of us will have an idea,” says Alan.

“We find that creating the garden is like painting a picture. You make a start with 
an idea and it flows from there, although sometimes Alan finds my ideas may be 
too high maintenance,” admits Wilma.

The couple enjoy opening their garden through the National Gardens Scheme, once in late April for the spring look and once in June for the roses.

Visitors wander the garden admiring 
the beauty of the flowers and trees along with the abundant bird life.

“It is a pleasure to have garden visitors knowing that they are supporting the excellent charities which are so carefully chosen by the NGS,” says Wilma. n

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