by Liz Potter |


THIS VERDANT COTTAGE GARDEN is jam-packed with exciting perennials and shrubs for year-round colour. “I love plants so much we had to get rid of the lawn,” says owner Gill Hadland, who lives here with her husband John. “Although the garden is long and thin, it’s divided into several different areas, where we try to keep the colour and interest going all year.”

Areas include a neat box-hedged parterre that Gill grew herself from cuttings. “My planting style is ‘cottagey’,” she says. “It’s loose planting within a formal layout. There’s so much packed into the garden now that there’s no space for weeds.”

Gill and John moved to Westview in 1986. “When we arrived the garden was mostly grass and concrete, with a very tatty wooden fence on the southern boundary. We kept a few of the plants: a damson, a dark purple syringa, two roses and a very nice malus ‘Red Sentinel’ .”

Over the years the couple have taken the garden in hand, creating a diverse planting palette that includes Gill’s collection of 350 snowdrops. “I’m a dedicated galanthophile and we grow lots of quirky ones,” she says. “I love anything that flowers in winter.”

The garden shifts gear around May time, with the arrival of alliums and aquilegias. “I’ve got all sorts of early perennials that come into flower at that time, including tulips, wallflowers, phlox and bleeding heart. The foliage interest is strong too, with vibrant red Japanese maples, ferns and lush hostas unfurling, creating tactile contrasts of texture.”

A soft blue-grey colour scheme is carried throughout the garden for cohesion between planting areas. “We’ve painted all our wooden structures – obelisks, tables and chairs – in Wild Thyme from Cuprinol Garden Shades,” says Gill. “It contrasts beautifully with our terracotta pots. We were inspired by the patina of our three galvanised dolly tubs – old washing tubs – and collection of vintage watering cans.”

Gill’s alpines and sedums occupy assorted stone troughs and salvaged sinks. “We also grow them in a set of metal tote pans that John rescued from scrap at his engineering works. They’re like metal drawers and were originally used to hold nuts and bolts. We drilled holes into their bottoms and lined them with sand to give the alpines good drainage.”

Gill and John garden organically, relying on homemade compost and leafmould to improve the soil, and using natural fertilisers such as liquid seaweed. “We don’t spray for pests or diseases but rely on growing strong and healthy plants instead. By gardening like this, we can let the wildlife deal with anything else.”

There are lots of places to sit and relax in the garden, where you can watch wildlife and listen to the hum of insects and birdsong. “My whole garden is a haven,” says Gill. “For me it’s a wonderful, atmospheric retreat from a busy world.”

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Gill and John Hadland

AT Westview, Great Glen, Leicester

GARDEN SIZE 30x7.5m (100x25ft)

SITE South-facing rear garden

SOIL Neutral clay

FEATURES Cottage-style planting; mature trees, shrubs and perennials; collections of snowdrops and alpines; courtyard area; parterre; woodland garden; wildlife pond; fruit and veg plot; octagonal greenhouse; salvage containers; organic approach

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