Moving into this Edwardian House some years ago, the house was uninhabitable, the kids were young and a handful, and the garden was a wilderness. Initial time, money and energy was spent on making the house fit to live in. Once the grass had been cut to 50mm, Alex had his football pitch so was happy. I squeezed in some vegetable beds under the fruit trees, but frankly the design could only evolve on paper.

But as Alexs ability to kick a ball way beyond the garden grew, I seized the opportunity to start dividing the garden up into rooms, with ultimately mixed herbaceous borders, raised veg beds and a magnificent bespoke man cave, combining stunning greenhouse with potting shed. A wild flower meadow developed with more fruit trees being planted, and in a reckless moment the decision to open the garden to the Public was made in 2015, raising money for my great nephew, Leo, who at 4 months had been diagnosed with bladder cancer.

Leo now seems to have recovered and the gardens been approved to be open in 2016 under the prestigious National Garden Scheme. The idea of a garden evolving to suit family commitments and budgets is a philosophy close to my design ethos. Few people can afford a garden of quality to be created overnight and anyway slow gardening like slow cooking often results in a better outcome.

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Homes and Gardens feature

Homes & Gardens May edition 2021