This Ain’t Versailles

Our gardens in Port Medway? Cottage gardens. This ain’t Versailles.

The famous gardens at the Palace of Versailles “convey the might of France, through their taming of unruly nature… The design harnesses water, earth, flowers, and trees to create vistas that stretch all the way to the horizon and seem to encompass the entire world in the orderly procession of pathways, ponds, and hedges.” (Flower Magazine)

Seaside garden path to the sea

Here in Port we have cottage gardens. “The cottage garden is a distinct style that uses informal design, traditional materials, dense plantings, and a mixture of ornamental and edible plants. English in origin, it depends on grace and charm rather than grandeur and formal structure.” (Wikipedia)  That’s us. Well, maybe we’re a bit short on edible plants, although there’s kale, and some other stuff that Lynn insists that I should nibble on. “It’s good for you,” she says. And we have charm. Grace? Maybe.

Cottage garden with salvia, drumstick allium, eryngium and poppies (the latter, uncurated).

Peony, post bloom and a rogue poppy which we’ll let hang around for a bit.

I like a garden that’s a little untidy, a bit unkempt, a trifle shambolic, has a bit of havoc. I’m with Mirabel Osler, who writes: “The very soul of a garden is shriveled by zealous regimentation… A mania for neatness, a lust for conformity – and away go atmosphere and sensuality.” (A Gentle Plea for Chaos) A cottage garden, she says, “requires intuition, a genius for letting things have their head.” Here in Port Medway we have intuition. Genius? That may be a bit of a stretch.

Top; woodland garden that needs some TLC and deadheading. Bottom L-R Rambling wild roses in Japanese holly; couch grass in the barberry (with sea grass in foreground).

We love our mallow wherever it wants to grow, er, lurk.

Delphinium after a rain storm

In our garden, a lot of things have their head. There’s a lot of letting go. The cosmos peek through the cottoneaster. The couch grass invades the barberry and the juniper. Poppies pop up everywhere. Mallow lurks. Garden paths are obscured by roses that need deadheading. Wild roses poke through Japanese holly. Flowers beaten down by the rain are left as they are. A tree falls across a path; we leave it where it lies and reroute the path.

Clockwise: cosmos in the cotoneaster; couch grass swarms the juniper; Virgin’s bower, toppled (all attempts to buttress this brute have been fruitless so it’s time to separate); Forced detour on a path courtesy of trees downed by Hurricane Dorian

Lynn is not a big pruner. Is that by design? Is Lynn following a philosophy? Or is Lynn a little lazy? It doesn’t matter. 

It all works out the way we want.


“Summertime and the livin’ is easy. Fish are jumping and the pruning is nigh”. Pruning is done in spring and autumn so the dogwood and viburnum and Squire Slayton will just have to hold the phone there…

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