Ann Wareham may be a contrarian, but it’s not just for the sake of it. She is genuinely puzzled by gardeners who put together a collection of plants rather than design a garden. Her garden, Veddw, in the Welsh borders, is two acres of carefully designed garden (plus two acres of managed woods) that include some startling juxtapositions of colors and shapes. She’s a big believer in pattern and repetition – not for her the wispy gardens of mixed perennials that are “pretty.” Take a look at the glorious pattern of her hedges, echoing the Monmouthshire hills:
She has a melancholy streak, too.
Gardens confront us with the relentless passage of time, as the flowers come and go in a parade that gains in speed as year passes year. Gardens are in endless, remorseless change and are always confronting us with our race towards death. Historic gardens remind us that garden-makers like ourselves made a garden and then had to let go, die, and that the garden continued cheerfully without them. Is this what is beneath the insistent upbeat jolliness of the garden world? Is this what we conspire to avoid contemplating?
She lives in the world of English gardeners in a country that may not do it right, according to her lights, but certainly pays a lot of attention to gardeners. They are all over in newspapers, magazines and television, in ways that US gardeners can only envy. It’s a small world, and Anne Wareham, with her thinkingardens, has carved out a very particular niche.
Oh, and it must be time to return to Wales and see the marvelous Veddw in person.