Post War Years
by Ted Howell
Several photographs exist showing detail of the house and
front garden in the 1950’s and 60’s (Central Library
Ealing, collection T371). All show a similar view. A range of,
mainly evergreen, shrubs back the front wall. There is a flowering
cherry (possibly Prunus Kanzan) to the left of the gate and
the wisteria is present, being seen first in a summertime view,
labelled Norwood Green, 1950’s.
In essence, the front garden remains the same today –
a collection of flowering and foliage shrubs and climbers.
The rear garden, however, changed quite markedly in the years
between the second war and the new millennium. In some ways
it matured, in others it dwindled.
Four large trees dominated the garden: the wild cherry (Prunus
avium), the ash (Fraxinus excelsior), an English yew (Taxus
baccata) and a Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus gunnii). There was only
a single, small statue, no water features, and no garden architecture
beyond a simple brick-built potting shed halfway along the left
hand boundary wall. In the 1980s a yew hedge was planted from
the end of this structure along the line of the present rectangular
pool thus bisecting the garden. By 2000 the hedge had grown
to two meters in height with a centrally placed topiary arch.
The lawn beyond the hedge was planted with fruit trees, a number
of which remain in 2005. The garden was poorly furnished with
shrubs or climbers excepting the all-pervasive ivy (Hedera helix
cvs. and H. colchica cvs.) and a magnificent Magnolia soulangeana
that stood on the site of the present conservatory.
Herbaceous perennials were largely confined to large clumps
of the more vigorous varieties, plants such as motherwort (Astrantia
major), day lily (Hemerocallis fulva), comfrey (Symphytum cvs.),
Geranium endressii and michaelmas daisies (Aster spp.) dominating
the summer borders.
Many more worthwhile plants, however, had prospered. Crocus
tommasinianus now colonises most of the borders, there are still
two large clumps of Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum x hybridum)
and there is a small but interesting collection of bearded iris.
(For a full list of plants see below in Plant List).
The garden has now existed for more than two centuries. Repeatedly
revised and re-invented, it has weathered the vicissitudes of
two world wars, three major economic slumps and the rise and
fall of Empires. The garden changes as fashion or expediency
dictated, but change is a necessary part of any landscape. Plants,
and fashions, are transitory but the Garden retains its spirit–
the country garden of an English gentleman.