Gardener: Renata Hume
Location: 10 Cross Street, Letchworth
Garden City, Hertfordshire SG6 4UD
Open: August 29, for the NGS, 2-5pm.
More info: www.cyclamengardens.com
With three levels and a circular theme, Renata Hume’s little slice of woodland is a garden for all seasons, with potted plants aplenty
Renata Hume’s garden is all about three things – levels, circles and greenery – facts that strike you the moment you step into her own little patch of Hertfordshire. The garden slopes down away from the house, and is terraced on three levels. Each level consists of a grassy circle, connected by steps and a path, edged with bricks or paving stones and borders that flow around them and down.
“I have always liked circular designs,” she tells us. “They help make the garden look bigger, they have a much softer look and feel than the harsh edges of squares and rectangles and I didn’t want the garden to look too regimented.”
The first, or top, circle has an old pear tree, which is now left to its own devices and is loved by birds and bees, as it also supports a honeysuckle. Around its base is a mini hedge, which is – you guessed it – circular.
The middle circle is the smallest and has a more enclosed feel about it. This also contains two old trees, an apple and another pear. The south-facing border here is the garden’s main herbaceous perennial planting area.
The third circle has the most open and spacious atmosphere, with a large apple tree in one corner, a hexagonal greenhouse and a metal pergola, over which grow old varieties of apples to form Renata’s ‘apple walk’, leading to the summerhouse. The garden is L-shaped and, from that circle, you turn a corner to Renata’s ‘powerhouse’ working area, which is not obviously visible from the main body of the garden.
“We were told that there was an orchard here before the land was divided into plots and the houses built in 1904, as part of the Cheap Cottages Exhibition being opened in the then new Letchworth Garden City – the world’s first garden city,” says Renata. “Looking at our neighbouring gardens, it’s easy to see where the trees grew in lines. We’re lucky to still have several of them and I think it’s awe-inspiring that they still produce wonderful fruit for us to enjoy after more than 100 years.”
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