Can small be grand ?

 Dear reader,

Anne Wareham's squirrel proof feeder (yes it is squirrel proof)

I'm small and so is the garden that to an extent is making, or suggesting itself. It has grown so much, the hedges have now formed walls, which is something I had hoped to achieve, not realising how much work it takes to stop them growing into a forest.


Anne Wareham and Charles Hawes s' garden The Veddw was the inspiration behind enclosing this space, and creating a cloistered feel. The question is does it do that, or does it feel too hemmed in because it is so small ? Am I trying to be too grand in a small space?

The grandest thing for me is that many of the plants in this space have arrived of their own accord over the last 20 years including veronicastrum - has Piet Oudolf sneaked in and planted them I wonder?

Veronicastrum, a guest that arrived and is now flourishing

Earlier in June I had a foxglove that was the palest pink, almost white, then there are the orchids that have arrived this year, one is a helleborine, the other I'm unsure of yet as it only produced leaves, but it may be a marsh orchid as it is in the damper end of what is a damp garden, and about 5 years ago I did cast some dust like seed that I collected from plants at the wet base of an old coal tip the other side of this valley. There are helleborines on the old coal tip behind and above the house. I have left patches of uncut grass in which these guests have appeared. It is all experimental, I stopped using any pesticides or fertilizers a few years ago, and try and work with nature. It is hard at times watching plants suffer from blight and insect damage, but there are so many other plants that do really well, it becomes a kind of natural editing process.

The foxgloves

Watercolour capture of a moment

Cutting paths through longer grass gives a sense of design and purpose, and results in wildflowers

Bird life has flourished, and as a result I have had less damage to plants from slugs and snails, there are also toads, and newts here so they must do their part, even the hostas around the pond are mostly intact.

Intact hostas

Because I have been doing a Masters in Fine Art, and because of covid restrictions I've not opened the garden this year with the NGS, and that has allowed me time to reflect and relax about what the garden might look like to visitors, so it has gone a bit wild and derelict in places, but that seems to add something in my view.


I also enjoy the way the formal and informal play off one another - more subliminal influences from Veddw.

looks grand but in reality a very small space with borrowed trees

In short, I remain short. Contact with the soil, watching the small moments of the life of the garden, seeing the insects, birds, and mammals, it is all such a privilege. I feel a real spiritual blessedness being the temporary custodian of this patch of land below a coal tip, a kind of grandness which has nothing to do with having acres, status or monetary wealth. Soil speaks, biodiversity is beautiful. The grandest thing of all though is that there are so many gardeners/garden makers who are now encouraging biodiversity into their spaces. Each one builds a regenerating community, a seed bank, the return of life and life more abundant.

The coal tip behind the house is transforming into woodland.

I have finally retired from nursing, and am using the time I'm in now for meditation, making artwork, going for walks and enjoying this space, oh and painting the outside of the house, taking down the old shed, applying for residencies.....

My other blog site is : which will be updated soon, and my instagram site :

Perhaps I'm writing to myself again !


The heap


  1. You're not writing to yourself Paul and I'm glad to have helped in some ways via Veddw! Hope your new life goes well and happily. Xxxx

    1. I finally worked out how to find the comments ! Thank you for this one Anne xxx

  2. Only you can answer the question of whether your hedges are hemming you in or just giving you welcome seclusion. Though I guess the answer may change depending on how you are feeling at the time. I think ours are as high as I want them to be for practical purposes as much as anything. But thank you in any case for your mentioning us and we are very happy to have provided some influence to your own garden making. The NHS will be poorer for your absence but the wider world richer. Good luck with your future endeavours.


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