"If I close my eyes, it all comes back to me -- the smell of box hedges, the sound of the village church bells, and the pleasant surprise of a warm greenhouse in the weak March sunshine of rural England. Although I have always gardened, I count my time as a real enthusiast from those days living abroad. Everything I do here at Heydonbury End is about trying to recreate that experience.
But the path has not always been straightforward, and I must admit that there were times when this endeavor began to feel less like an opportunity and more like a millstone around my neck. That all changed when I read Roy Strong's book The Laskett. Instantly, I saw the idea of Heydonbury End as process and not a destination. Since then we have redoubled our efforts and have become slightly more patient.
I am much longer on garden strategy than I am on maintenance, and it is Laura's work that keeps things ticking along. It seems that she handles most sensible things while I generally create crazy schemes and mess about with heavy equipment -- but it seems to work out in the end.
I'm always returning to the works of Penelope Hobhouse, Rosemary Verey, and Christopher Lloyd for inspiration, and when I'm not in the garden I enjoy building custom furniture, cycling, and hoarding books."
"As the ‘sensible’ gardener, it’s no surprise my interest had practical origins. Vegetables were my starting The New Self-Sufficient Gardener, a beautifully illustrated guide to garden produce. Barbara Kingsolver’s memoir, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, helped me see the possibility of year-round locally-grown food. I set about creating the mother of a ll kitchen gardens and learning the basics of canning and storage. I fell way short of perfection, but learned a lot about what’s worth growing ourselves and what can be more easily obtained from local farm markets.
The Heydonbury End kitchen garden is, we think, ‘right-sized’ for our needs. Still, every spring Chris and I engage in vigorous debate about what to plant, and how much(melons in the middle of the leeks … really?), and I try to bring a gentle dose of realism to his ‘crazy schemes.’ Meanwhile he’s teaching me about caring for ornamentals, and in my quest for a pristine tidy garden, I will never again mistake a small peony for a weed.
I don’t spend as much time in the garden as I probably should, because I also enjoy curling up in a chair with a cat to knit or read."