There is a garden, that unless you get invited in, truly is a secret. It’s a few hundred yards from the North Sea, in Suffolk, England. As you walk or drive down the road, to your left is the North Sea and to the right is a dense, long privet (and other assorted shrubs & trees) hedge row. As one might expect, the landscape, as you look towards the sea, is is very sparse and windswept. Some gnarled shrubs and native shore plants- grasses and a wild brocolli (!) growing in the sea-polished pebbles. Towards the other side, one would never suspect what lay behind the hedge. I was lucky enough to know someone who knew someone and was treated to a tour of the secret garden. This first image (below) shows an open grassy area that is never mowed or watered. Wild bunnies (!) come in the early mornings and late evenings to munch on the grass so often that they don’t have to mow! …and it rains here, rains so regularly that gardens stay really green without irrigation or regular hand watering. As a California native, this is such a foreign and amazing concept to me, I had a hard time wrapping my brain around it. You mean I could have a gorgeous garden and go away on vacation without having to arrange a rotating crew of waterers to keep my plants from withering up and dying?? I wouldn’t have to spend a fortune or feel guilty because I’m using a so much water?? I could have a lawn??
I think I would have fun creating a garden in England. (I would just have to make sure I got myself a crew of lawn munching bunnies!)
inside the Secret Garden
The caretakers of the secret garden have an interesting hobby. The garden, which is a couple of acres, has many…I’ll call them…critter cams. They’re infrared, motion detecting cameras, set up near areas like, bird boxes, nests, bunny haunts and badger dens. They have made their garden extremely wildlife friendly- going to extremes such as building hay bale habitats for badgers and bringing them left-over bread from restaurants every day, to filling the countless bird feeders and birdbath every day with fresh food and water! All the cameras connect to a computer in the summer house where one could sit and watch video of last night’s badger bread raid or the blue bird sitting on her eggs inside her private (so she thinks!) bird box, if one was so inclined. It’s like a super high-tech security system, but for critters. It’s a little quirky (stalker!), but incredibly fun and addicting. Unfortunately, I had to leave before the eggs hatched!
gnarly apple trees
These old apple tree were overgrown with bramble bushes for so many years that the branches grew very long, with not much strength (being held up by the brambles). When they were cleared, and some of the branches just flopped to the ground, the gardeners couldn’t bear to prune away the interesting shape of the old trees. Notice the forked branches being used as stakes to hold up the long branches. These trees had swelling flower buds all over them and I was sad to miss the glory of their bloom.
This last image was taken in the evening, as the sun was going down, casting it’s last light on these two trees that grew together, looking like lovers. Someday, oh someday, I will have a secret garden of my own!