Our new river walk is finished!

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Yvonne Coomber

Some of you may have seen on facebook last week that we have finished our river walk – new for 2015.

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Although the house has always been right next to the river (the Walkham), it was screened by planting for privacy by the previous owners.   Their planting scheme of rhododendrons has now fully matured but it meant we literally lost sight of the river.

S and I have wondered for a while how to get the best of both worlds, be able to enjoy the river but be screened for privacy from the other side of the river.  Finally we figured it out.   Create a narrow path between the bank of rhodis and the river – simple!

So we get the trusty Pete and Nathan in to clear a path through the vegetation.   Ah, it looks great, maybe make it a little wider right there?  Maybe take out that patch of bamboo and whilst you’re at it, those laurels, oh and that old tree stump.  The path got wider and wider…

We always knew we had a willow tree behind the rhodis and when we cleared the vegetation we saw it arched gracefully over the path, perfect for wedding photos.

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There had obviously been a stone wall along the riverside but most of it had fallen into the river over the years and it was in serious disrepair.  The only way to repair it was to stand in the river and rebuild it from there – so in S went every spare moment he had from November to March, in all weathers.  The man was heroic.

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The path had to be levelled with a digger and the project kept getting bigger.

I wanted a fence along the riverside of the path partly to deter the ponies from crossing the river into the garden now that we’d taken down the wire fence and partly to deter wedding guests from leaning out a little too far and peering over the wall.  But how to put up a fence whilst still keeping the view of the river?  Eventually I adapted an idea I had seen on another river walk, using narrow tree stems as stakes at different heights.  It fulfils function and form perfectly, acting as a fence whilst still being in keeping with the woodland feel I wanted to retain.

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The path was lined with tree roundels, again keeping to the woodland feel and S cut some large oak log seats from some fallen timber that had been seasoning naturally in the woods.

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As we had cleared a path behind existing mature planting we have been able to ‘borrow’ the back of the lawn planting for the river walk.   Ideal!  So although it’s a newly completed project it has very mature planting and it’s lovely to see the plants already turning towards the new light source after clearing the obstructing vegetation.

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So what else to plant in the space?  I wanted to keep to a woodland feel, blend with the existing planting in the space but also to give it a different feel from planted areas elsewhere in the garden.  I decided to keep to a pastel palette, fewer whites as we have in the rest of the garden, introducing some pale pinks, lilacs, yellows and peach – soft and romantic colours.   I planted some new dwarf rhodis, ‘Dreamland,’, ‘Hoppy’ and ‘Golden Torch’ which will be beautiful in May and then act as an evergreen foil for later summer flowering plants such as astrantia, hydrangea and anemone.

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I dug up a couple of dozen wild foxgloves that had seeded themselves in the ‘wrong’ place in the garden and then added 101 (I ordered 100 but I got an extra free plant – hooray!) of foxgloves in different shades.

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I’ve planted lots of bulbs and added hostas and pulmonaria which will come back year after year and get bigger and better as time goes on.

We’re starting this week with a new photography project in the garden, photographing the garden through the wedding season.   I’m always snapping away on my iphone but it will be great to see fab professional shots from the lovely Maggie Mccall.   I hope to share a few of them along the way through the project so do pop back and check them out.

 

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