John’s planted perfection, high on the Calder Valley hillside

FROM a largely treeless, north-east-facing slope high above sea level on the Colden hillside, John Williams of Land Farm has created a garden now ranked as one of the 80 best in the country.

At the July meeting of U3A Todmorden, John explained to members the principles of garden design by which he worked, writes Marion Kershaw.

First of all members had to work a little, in a light-hearted discussion of the elements typical of various garden categories, from deer parks, formality and exotic plants to lawns, cabbages, gnomes, decking and water features.

Gender and class could have an effect on the type of garden, as could the desire to keep up with the neighbours or demonstrate power and status. Members then found themselves studying several paintings John had provided to demonstrate the importance of focal elements placed according to the “rule of thirds.”

The best art evoked an emotional response, and with the best gardens the whole picture was diminished if one single element was removed.

John had tried to apply these principles to his own garden, which he saw as a private canvas. He chose elements that captured an emotion or a memory, as he wanted to create a garden of elements, balance and mystery. Anyone wishing to create an original garden needed to develop their own eye, and use the garden as an expression of their own sensibilities, as he had done.

John then showed a film of Land Farm through the seasons, with the early spring bulbs being followed by Himalayan and then herbaceous plants, and autumn foliage on the trees concluding what was in effect a succession of four different gardens.

Maud Audsley, giving the vote of thanks, said that John’s talk had inspired his listeners to create and to appreciate gardens.

Members were also addressed by Peter Skinner, the local outreach worker for digitaluk, about the switchover to digital television which will be happening in the Calder Valley area on September 7 and 21.

Everyone in the area should have received the booklet “Your Guide to Switchover” which advised householders on the steps they needed to take to ensure they could continue to receive television channels after the analogue system was switched off.

For anyone who did not have a copy, replacements could be obtained by ringing the digitaluk number on 08456 505050.

At the next meeting on August 18, retired land agent John Sheard will talk about “The Yorkshire Estates of the Dukes of Devonshire.”