It’s that garden again

It was back in the spring of 2017 that the Wychwood Magazine became aware of a highly unusual garden – not Kew or Hidcote but 1b Milton Road, just below the village shop in Shipton.  An article in the magazine told of how Jayne, the occupant, had turned her front garden into a child’s paradise featuring 101 ornaments and oddments packed onto the bed of gravel.  Four years later, several things have changed.

Sadly, Jayne died, far too young, and Cottsway cleared the house and garden.  All those garden ornaments were removed; paradise was deserted.  New arrivals, Bill and Rose arrived, leaving Lyneham behind and settled into their new home, knowing nothing of its past.  Replacing the gravel bed felt like a step too far so what to do?  Perhaps a few garden ornaments would look good?

Almost unbelievably, this cheerful couple simply continued a process about which they knew nothing.  Jayne’s work took on a whole new lease of life and what has resulted intrigues, interests and entertains in equal measure.  The entire front garden is now festooned with a wondrous range of ornaments, many of them animal related, including Bill’s favourites, the meerkats, or Rose’s cherished dog shrine.

Fortunately, both Rose and Bill bring past experiences and skills to bear as the project continues.  Rose is an artist who loves repairing and painting the ornaments, most of which are cast-offs or bric – a- brac, so the occasional missing foot on a fairy can easily be remedied.  Perhaps the most colourful highlight attributable to Rose is a gorgeous dragon painted in shades of green and turquoise.  Meanwhile, Bill revels in his DIY, building a well and a row of raised beds, now planted with a range of annuals.

The result of all this labour is a wonderfully quirky garden that fascinates many passers-by, especially the children and young at heart. The topical face masks brought many a smile. 

“Cor, look at that fairy garden.” And as young Henry noted, “That gnome’s got his bum sticking out!”

Nothing stays still for long in this garden.  New ornaments appear, the arrangements change and there is even a fountain being planned. And, it’s all in a good cause.  As well as a spectacular and much appreciated Halloween display, the garden was transformed for Christmas, to the benefit of the Wychwood Day Centre as £150 was donated by viewers.

So why do Bill and Rose do it?  The question brings a broad smile to their faces. “We do it for the kids and the response we get from everyone.” Jayne would have approved.

Bob Forster

August-September 2021