Veddw is a modern garden, laid out among the gentle hills of the Welsh borders. It has an unusual genesis: not a plantswoman’s garden, not a gardener’s garden. Instead, its creator, Anne Wareham, was driven by a fascination with the garden as art form. With her photographer husband Charles Hawes, Anne has spent 25 years developing Veddw from meadowland.
The garden is full of big confident sweeps of plants and patterns of hedging. This is not a timid place, fiddling around in details. It makes bold marks on the landscape.
Despite its confidence, Veddw is not a garden with airs and graces – you take it as you find it, from the home-made sign on the door to Anne (maybe) offering builders’ tea, no cake, and a gossip after the visit. It is full of contrasts, between wild flowers and clipped shrubs, light and shade, open vistas and secret pathways.
“These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines of sportive wood run wild”
to lists of common plant names in the cornfield garden, stamped in gold lettering on wooden railings. Here I learnt the delightful phrase “snotty gogs” and discovered that it is a child’s term for yew berries.
The garden is not seen as settled or finished, but is constantly undergoing review and refinement. Just after we visited, Anne announced plans to chop down the tree at the end of this pathway and replace it with something else.
there is a delightful smaller stone pond near the house. It is firmly rectangular and makes no pretence at being natural but, surrounded by mossy stones and seemingly self-seeded alpine flowers, it manages somehow to look like it has always been there.
I was not so keen on a boldly planted area in the north garden, full of contrasting grey cardoon and purple heuchera and cotinus. I thought it out of context, lacking the sense of place that is so strong elsewhere at Veddw. I know Anne disagrees – she told me that she loves the impact of this area, the way it changes and develops from winter into high summer, and would not want to lose those pleasures. I hesitate to say ‘each to their own’ – as Anne scoffs at the idea that we should explain away critical comments as just a question of different tastes.My only other quibble in this wonderful garden is the grasses parterre (in the background of the photo below). I really wanted to like this area: low hedges are laid out in the pattern of the 1841 local tithe map, and the resulting ‘fields’ are planted with ornamental grasses. It seems a great idea, another novel way of referencing the history of the site. But I found it impossible to understand on the ground. It just looked puzzling and slightly scruffy, like it was trying to tell you something but you couldn’t work out what.
The garden is a joy, always changing and growing, and worth repeated visits. We dedicated most of a day to our trip, including an excellent lunch at a nearby pub, and thought it very well worth the effort. Just don’t simper to the formidable Anne that you think it all vaguely “lovely” – and don’t expect roses or cake!