PLACES

LAST YEAR FRESH WOODS celebrated its diamond jubilee and its 20th open garden season. In its life, the garden has seen many transformations. It was once a wind-swept rockv, sunbaked hilltop on acid gravelly clay. Probably overgrown with renosterbos and heaths for the most part, but some of it was on better soil. And here the bulbs hid under the dense cover. Waiting for the fires that would sweep through every decade or so. In the early 20th century the whole site was planted with Pinus pinaster, under which many bulbs astonishingly have survived to this day. In 1950 a section was cleared for the garden; hut growth everywhere was slow, and shade was scarce for the first decade. Piped irrigation changed all that, and brought a surge in growth everywhere it reached. Roses, those pioneers of newly cleared spaces, flourished in the clay, and the collection grew to number nearly 500 old and species roses. But inevitably the canopy rose and spread. shrubs swallowed their neighbours, and well-bred plants turned out to he bullies, sensing new opportunities. How to cope with ever-increasing shade is a problem most gardeners have to face at some stage. Some raze everything to the ground and start over again, revelling in the: chance: to give plants the sun and space they want. Others allow nature to take its course, even celebrating the do-nothing approach of the ‘self-sustaining garden’, the famous example being Sir Peter Smithers whose Swiss garden, Vico Morcote, was reported at last to be totally impenetrable. ENCHANTED FOREST

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