Winter in the Lane

Winter at the Lane is a special time – autumn has meant leaves have fallen and the great structure of the trees and plants are revealed. It is really striking to see as the days get longer and colder. The Wisteria Colonnade is bare and the Elm over looking the Secret Garden turns to yellow and then drops its leaves over just two days.

The white bark of the birch trees look like parchment and we wait for the under plantings of hellebores and daffodils to emerge.

Outside the Secret Garden wall

One side of the Secret Garden wall looked up to the Birch Forest and the Wisteria Colonnade where we had done a lot of work and was shaded by the wonderful elm tree. The other side was really just a dumping ground for garden rubbish and had a very steep slope. Initially it was also dark as a row of Cyprus trees from next door blocked out the sun. These trees got the “Cyprus canker”  that caused them to have die-back – they were removed by our neighbor and so much light was let in we knew it was time to continue the path around the wall to join onto “Edna Walling Walk” via “Crabapple Walk”…..


Building the path and the retaining wall was a big job – there was drainage to consider and we wanted to keep some of the banksia trees as the birds loved them (mainly the nuts to crunch on).

Adam from Three Colors Green worked out a plan on the fly with levels – it was a busy day!

Firstly we planted the lavender hedge and some salvias. The color was purple and it looked perfect against the sand colored walls. Then as often happened in making this garden things changed – Adam came across a large tree fern which needed “re-housing” from another job – and soon we had 3 and a fernery emerged. We bought other ferns and the environment (dappled shade) was ideal. We had never been a “fernery” type of gardener since probably the 80″s but it seems just like it was always there. You turn the corner of the Secret garden and there is is – through an “arch” created by the banksia trees.

On the ground we planted Heucheras of many colors, succulents and tiny ferns that grew quickly and spread. Even an orchid!


The Secret Garden settles into the Lane

The Secret Garden settled into the Garden and is a wonderful escape from everything. We changed to Hobbit Door to some wrought iron leaves so you could peep through and see what was growing. Every season we plant something new – this year lots of bulbs for that early spring color. You can see the walls from everywhere in the garden but it is not until you open the door are all the Secrets revealed…


The Secret Garden – Mary-lou Pittard Tiles

We have loved the work of Mary-lou Pittard forever at Uccello Lane. Her Teapots and bowls, vases are bright and natural.

So she made us tiles for the Wisteria Colonnade and the walls of the Secret Garden – they are unique and perfect!

Capturing the love of birds and the color of the render blending into the native bush.

Mary-lou (and Chris) came out and stood in the garden to get inspiration and then carefully left specific plans on where they were to be placed by Mick Harris.

Once the tiles were on the rendered walls we all knew we were indeed in a a “special” garden!

The panel for the Wisteria Colonnade was to be the feature – just Wisteria on the walls and roof and tiles on the ground. When we first saw it at Mary-lou’s studio it was breath taking – once in place it took on the dimension we wanted – it looked like it had always been there.

The bricks that capped the walls were old and crumbly, irregular shapes but perfect for the job. They featured around both doors and needed lots of skill to lay.

The door to the Secret Garden – the handle is from Steptoes in Preston.

The Secret Garden – In the Beginning…

A string line was set up and from that we could see that it was possible – but not as easy as we hoped. Let’s not mention “artistic differences”. The excavators came and get things ready for the concrete – also we now know where the irrigation system goes. We waited a few months then the blockwork was built – first the hobbit door and it was here for the first time it seemed it would work.

As you drove up Uccello Lane you would see the door and the Secret Garden wall and wonder “what is behind it”. Along the way the doors caused lots of issues – sometimes they just needed strong encouragement to fit.

So now we had the Secret Garden Walls and Doors – what was inside?