That garden

Page 23 That gardenEngland’s gardens are famed across the world, their frothing herbaceous borders, their Capability Brown landscapes, their pools and decking; from Chelsea to Kew, from Sissinghurst to Bressingham, visitors flock to see them.
But there is one front garden in Shipton which will win no awards, and is unlikely to ever feature on Gardeners’ World; it does, however, bring endless pleasure to children and to those with a sense of fun. That is Jayne’s garden, just below the post office. Jayne has never been a gardener but after moving here four years ago from the pub she ran in Bletchingdon, she was determined to create something a bit different; well, a lot different.
She wanted a blank canvas to begin with. After having the lawn and borders completely cleared she laid down a membrane and covered it with over two tons of gravel; now for the fun bit. To her daughter’s amazement and growing incredulity, she buried a recumbent plaster man with just his head and feet showing; this garden, she explained, was his lounge, complete with wine alongside and, wait for it, an eagle behind him. An eagle? This, Jayne told the children who craned over the wall, was so that the man could be carried off to mystery lands for fresh adventures away from his resting place. And so began Jayne’s story telling. For everything that she added onto the gravel, she told her stories to spellbound children. Why were those wellies full of plants? How could that duck ride a bicycle? This was as magical a garden as any child could wish for.
Daughter Zoey was growing increasingly bamboozled by her mother’s creation. Was her mother, as they say, “losing the plot”? But Zoe’s son, George, was hooked. He accompanied nana to garden centres and bargain shops, acquiring elves and all sorts of decorations to place between the plant pots. He was in his element, egging her on.
As the garden developed and evolved, changing with the seasons, so passers-by started to give her more unusual and exotic ornaments; there was the ominous black bat to spread eagle across the wall at Halloween and, soon to appear in public, a tubby dark green frog with its own sound effects activated at the touch of a button.
Has she finished? Far from it. Zoey despairs, but Jayne is undeterred. The next items to grace her stage are being accumulated and, whisper it gently, she has an old TV, ghetto blaster and even a small fridge that she is considering adding to her relaxed gentleman’s lounge.
This is no Chelsea medal winner, but it’s zany, it’s outrageous and it’s Jayne’s contribution to the Wychwoods’ many attractions.

The editorial team

April – May 2017