Copyright © The Rivendell Garden/John Kingdon 2015-
The garden here at Rivendell isn’t acres; more like square metres. There’s a front area, a back area and two side areas with the house in the middle. The house dates from 1991 when I bought it as a new build, moving from a terraced house in Cardiff which might actually have had a greater floor area and a garden area described by the estate agent as a “patio with attractive flower borders.” (When I’d originally bought that house, the back was a concrete slab; I built a few brick raised borders to get some colour into the otherwise monotonous grey.)
The rear garden area here, to the east of the house, is about 360 square metres. That area surprised me when I worked it out; as I’d thought it was smaller. But I’ve managed to cram in a decent-
On the north side of the house is an area, now about 10.5 square metres after I discovered the fence had been built a fair bit inside the boundary. This was sloping towards the house and was going to be my vegetable patch but a steep embankment on the other side of the fence meant that the ground was always waterlogged so I decided to level and pave over this area, build a raised soakway along the boundary and locate the garden shed, greenhouse, barbecue and an outdoor eating area there. More recently, I’ve constructed a long, narrow raised planter which sits comfortably on top of the soakway and in which I’ve planted some spring bulbs, miniature standard roses and a row of daylilies, leaving space for sweet peas along the back of the planter.
The south side of the house has a narrow strip in which I grow some fruit bushes and have some of those growhouses for young plant raising. Oh, and the water butt and wormery. There’s just enough room to squeeze myself in when I need to.
At the front, the otherwise oblong area has a chunk cut out of it by part of the kidney-
Soil is a fairly heavy clay into which I’ve dug loads of everything you need to dig into heavy clay to lighten it. pH is slightly on the acid side of neutral.
I don’t profess to be organic (I do use chemicals, albeit sparingly) but I do aim to be as peat-
For most of my time here I’ve been working, usually long hours and often travelling away overnight and this has limited what I’ve been able to achieve. Many’s the time I’ve bought a load of plants but then unexpected work commitments have meant them languishing for far too long in their pots. But having now retired, I’ve started attacking the place with a vengeance. And if things work out as I expect, the place should soon look very different.
I garden my way. There is no right way or wrong way, though there may be ways to do things that are more successful than others. I have learned more from my mistakes than I ever have, or will, from TV programmes or celebrity gardeners. I push the boundaries a bit and sometimes a plant that shouldn’t grow for me will thrive; another time something that should romp away will fail. Any advice I offer in these pages is firmly based on what works for me. It’s up to you whether you try something or do your own thing.
But whatever you decide, enjoy your garden.