West Wickham Gardener, At Your Service

Living and gardening in Coney Hall, West Wickham, for nearly 50 years, off and on, I am familiar with the pains and pleasures of gardening on a bed of flint and pebbles mixed with a little sandy dust, where trees and large shrubs grow abundantly but many plants are stunted by the poor soil, and everything grows readily in the lawn, except grass! The lower lying part of this beautiful suburb are also prone to long period of dampness (despite the soil drying-out a few hours after a downpour in the summer), so that moss, slugs and snails add to the challenges for many of us.

The shape of most of the gardens is typical of the more rural suburbs built between the wars: a long, narrow back garden behind the house, with a tendency to strange bends and changes of width, and those mysterious lumps and hollows in the lawn. The front gardens are often small, so that mowing the lawn needs more dexterity than parking in the west end on Saturday evening, if you’re not going to decapitate half a flower bed.

The long narrow gardens present a challenge because we want space, but we also want some privacy. However much we like our neighbours, we don’t want to feel we’re overlooked and we don’t want to feel we’re spying on them.
The usual answer is a border containing trees and shrubs with a lawn down the middle. This arrangement can be quite low maintenance, but the key is regular maintenance. The shrubs and trees need cutting back, so they don’t encroach on the lawn, and it is vital to weed underneath them as weeding prevents the growth of plants, such as brambles or bindweed, that can, all too easily, take over. Just have your lawn cut and see how much more cheerful the garden looks when you look out of the window, or sit down outside for a well earned rest.

If you like a summer flower bed, or rose bed, then weeding is vital. The flowers look so much better and slugs and snails have fewer places to hide (which of us has not ‘planted out’, only to come down next morning to find our plants have become a slugs banquet).

I hope this gives some idea of the services I provide: I believe passionately that, with very little expense, any garden can stop being a problem and become a pleasure, a pleasure to see, and your beautiful outdoor room in the summer.

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