Kent Life's Gardeners of the Year 2014
PUBLISHED: 09:01 27 September 2014 | UPDATED: 09:01 27 September 2014
Meet the Primary School and Amateur Adult winners in this year's closely fought search for the best gardeners in Kent of all ages
Prue Seddon’s two-acre garden at Meadow House in Toys Hill, which spreads around the pretty pink rendered house, has been developed over many years.
“The garden had been neglected for a long time and my husband and I effectively started from scratch when we bought the house some 18 years ago.
“We had to level whole sections of the garden as you couldn’t take a wheelbarrow from front to back,” recalls Prue.
Levelling, terracing and planting a wide palette of plants that suit the greensand soil, just on the acid side of neutral, transformed the site into a flourishing garden. From the rhododendron-lined driveway, through dense herbaceous borders, scrambling roses along a pergola lined with frothy Alchemilla mollis or tumbling over the picket fence by the pool, to lovely shrubs framing views of the sheep-dotted fields beyond; there is a beautiful spirit to the garden – a sentiment echoed by the judging panel as we deliberated this year’s winner.
Head judge Roger Platts said: “I preferred Meadow House because of the setting with the amazing views, a good collection of plants, the enthusiasm and knowledge of the hard-working owner, many different elements including water, lawns, orchard, wild area, rose garden, heather area, all-year-round interest. The general layout worked well on the sloping terrain.
“I found myself spending far more time there than in any other garden I visited thus year, which for me is a significant indication of my preference.”
Central to the layout are winding paths to wander and explore the vision close up, while connecting the different sections of the garden with their themed flower beds.
“As a child I loved running along garden paths and I wanted to recreate those childhood memories,” says Sue.
“Our grandchildren love doing the same now and playing hide and seek among the rhododendrons.”
Each season has it highlights with well-thought out combinations for the different areas. “There is a rhododendron or camellia in flower all year round. Spring brings lots of primroses, magnolias, camellias, rhododendrons and daffodils.
“Early summer sees the rose garden, surrounded by a stone wall, and the pergola comes into bloom. Then the herbaceous border and other beds start to flower. There is also a shady courtyard with an ornamental pond, surrounded by hydrangeas and a large Magnolia grandiflora, pittosporum and an Eucryphia climbing up the house,” says Prue.
As with all our finalists Prue has a passion for hands-on gardening. “The garden does take a lot of time, I spend some time every day, mowing, edging or weeding but it is very relaxing and very rewarding. There is a bench facing due south at the corner of the garden – the ‘gin and tonic corner’ – which is the perfect place to spend a summer’s evening enjoying the view and all the hard work!”
“I was immediately drawn to Meadow House, where the gardens sit so perfectly framed by the breathtaking country views,” commented Kent Life Editor Sarah Sturt.
“I was also impressed by the way Prue has carried on with the garden following her husband’s death and the way in which she adapted areas she could no longer manage without his help – for example, turning the vegetable garden into a play area for her grandchildren, who clearly enjoy the garden as much as she does.
“And I loved Prue’s ‘gin and tonic’ bench, let’s hope she can find an equally good home for her prize bench as 2014 winner.”