by Gary on 25th April 2022 / 0 comments

Nearly 150 years in the making

Okay, that sounds dramatic, maybe even a little 'click-baitey' but let me explain. Our home was built in 1876, and with it, the garden was created.

The land our home occupied was much larger; the surrounding homes were built much later in the 20th century, with land sold off from the original house. However, it still left us a reasonable size plot when we purchased the home in 1999.

Despite that slightly misleading title, it very much has our fingerprint on it now, but we're lucky enough to know a little history about it.


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A black and white shot of our home from the 1960's when the house stood alone, surrounded by an orchard.
Our Home in the 1960's

Where is Our Garden?

And tell us some of the history

So, if you have followed 'Our World for You' you may have seen our post on our local war memorial in the village of Eccles, and that's where you'll find 'Our Garden'. In a village, just north of Aylesford, in a valley between the chalky North Downs and the River Medway.

We have the remains of a Roman Villa just south of the village; there's also Aylesford Priory close by, before we reach Alyesford old town with its medieval Bridge.

A picturesque view of the old stone bridge over the River Medway in Aylesford
It is also home to the legend of the Anglo-Saxon Hengist and Horsa, battling with Vortigern, King of the Britains, in around 455. We also have a few neolithic remains at Kits Coty, the Countless Stones and the Coffin Stone
Kit's Coty House, the remains of a megalithic 'dolmen' burial chamber, behind an iron fence.
Kits Coty neolithic burial chamber
Chapel Down's Kits Coty vineyard is at the end of our lane, producing some outstanding English wine. The Kentish landscape is littered with Oast houses, used for the drying of hops, for use in the brewing industry.
A converted Oast house in Kent with two circular conical roofed towers, topped with a white rotating vent on each
An Oast House
So what does all this history mean? Well, I figure a lot of individuals, from many different lands and many different times may have walked through our garden.

So what do you know about 'Our Garden'?

What is the actual history?
We have a local historian, Ray, who sold pamphlets with old postcards of the local area, with additional narrative, to raise funds for the British Heart Foundation. I was able to assist him with the scanning & reproducing of some of the work, and in the process came across some very old images of the house.
A black and white image of a lady in the garden of our house from the first half of the 20th century
The garden from the early 20th century

We were also lucky enough to get a collection of shots from a previous owner of the house, Sid. This gave us a valuable insight to how the garden looked.

The view from the central rear window looks a little different.

A shot from the 1970's or 80's from our rear first-floor window with a clematis growing through a dead tree
Sid's view of the garden
The view of our garden from a first-floor window of our home, across the conservatory, so you can see the layout of the garden
Our view of the garden

    The tree in the foreground was long gone by the time we arrived, but the Rowan/ Mountain Ash behind it died in 2018, and we retained it because the collared doves & wood pigeons love roosting in it. Now seeing the Clematis weaving through the tree in the foreground had given me an idea.

    The patio area looks very different too; that's changed over the years.

    A shot from the 1970's or 80's of the top of the garden now adjoining what we call our Courtyard Patio
    Sid's Patio
    Our Courtyard Patio after the jetwash and the removal of the old cold frame
    Our patio
      One thing that's clear from these photos is that Sid was a keen gardener.

      Will the past inspire the future at 'Our Garden'?

      Absolutely, we love history, and that is reflected in our plans.
      There were climbing roses in the west border, the one we call our Cottage Garden border. The red one closest to the Courtyard Patio is the original, but the others have been lost.
      A shot from the 1970's or 80's of the western edge of our garden in full bloom with alternating red, yellow and red climbing roses and full cottage garden beds
      Sid's Border

      However, on our first visit to a garden centre, one of the purchases was a climbing rose. We opted for a fragrant white variety rather than Sid's red, yellow, and red layout.

      Another know to Kent's past is our goldings hop, which we planted when we first moved in.

      Although it is a rampant climber, I need to think about how best to manage its growth.

      A closeup of hops growing in our garden
      Our Kentish Hop

      What about the future of Our Garden

      Respecting the past, creating for the future
      I think the key parts of our garden will remain. The lawn will remain, we may tweak the shape, and we need to restore it to a healthier look. A little less moss and a little more grass would be a good starter.
      A view across the lawn after the first cut of the season with two deciduous trees yet to bud
      Our Lawn in need of some TLC

      The working area will gain a new tool store, and we will undoubtedly consolidate what we have and remove the rouge ivy that has made this corner of the garden its home.

      The Cottage Garden will always remain; it is a keystone of our English country garden, as is our wildlife pond.

      The Courtyard Patio will always ebb and flow with new planting in its pots, but there are no firm plans other than to continue to reduce the height of the bay tree that sits behind the BBQ, so it no longer obscures the view.

      The patio laid out on a cross brick pattern with a 6 seater outdoor dining table and a large BBQ at the edge of the garden
      The Patio

      The raised beds remain a question mark. Who knows? Watch this space.

      So the future is very much the same as the past: Every changing.

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