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December 2005
The Gardens
The front garden was described previously.

To the right of the garage as one faced the house, there was a walkway with a gate leading to the back garden, and a large dog kennel. The kennel was not used; the two pedigreed black-and-tan dachshunds the family had in succession while they lived at Friars Lawn were much loved, and slept in the kitchen area of the house.

The back garden was bordered on the left (as one looked out from the house) and on the back by a fine sturdy high brick wall, that still stood when the author last saw the property, in 1990. Next to the left wall, extending back about two-thirds of the way to the back wall, was a flower bed and a flagstone walk, with a wrought iron archway at the end. The large lawn extended from that walk all the way across the property to a narrow flowerbed backed by a low fence separating Friars Lawn from the neighboring property. In the middle of the back end of the lawn, a very large old apple tree stood; the children placed the wickets for their cricket games in front of its trunk. Occasionally, errant balls went over the wall into the garden of Friars Lawn’s twin house, The Grange - to the understandable annoyance of its residents.

Behind the old apple tree was a rough low stone wall bordering a raised area with shrubs, small trees, and rocks. Jennifer remembers one particularly large stone cut into a rectangular shape with a protruding well-carved lion’s head; she imagined it came from some long-vanished castle or Roman ruin.

At the very end of the garden, at the back left-hand corner where the side wall joined the back wall, there was a large rabbit hutch, which the family used to raise pet rabbits until the sad day some animal got into the hutch and killed the rabbits.

The rest of the area at the back of the garden was devoted to fruit-bearing trees and shrubs, and vegetable plots. There were two small apple trees that produced delicious fruit (unlike the large apple tree, which yielded quantities of small apples, very hard and sour.). There were small trees that bore delectable peaches and pears against the back wall, along with plants bearing strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, red currants, gooseberries, and vegetables, plus hazelnuts from the tree that stood in the corner near the back steps to the house. The children always looked forward to the seasons of the various fruits, especially the strawberries and strawberries, which they ate with sugar and heavy cream at teatime.

The back wall of the garden continued to the right, around two additional house lots, the further one with a house on it. The nearer lot had no house on it, and the property had been left untended (perhaps ever since the earlier Friars Lawn walled property had been subdivided), with a lush growth of trees and shrubs; Jennifer particularly recalls spectacular peonies. There was only a light wood fence on that side of the Friars Lawn back garden, but the children did not climb over that fence. Instead, they took a more exciting route, climbing a tree to get on top of the wall at the back of the garden, then moving over a few feet and climbing down from it into the vacant property. They trampled “secret” paths and thoroughly enjoyed fantasy games in the “wilderness.”

A gardener was employed to mow the lawns and care for and make improvements in the plantings. Among his various projects, he built or improved two rock gardens, one to the right of the driveway when one entered (there was a large and beautiful snowball tree there), and one in the raised area behind the large apple tree in the back. He also pruned and cared for the fruit trees and bushes, and laid new flagstone walks in that area.

Flowers such as hollyhocks, pansies, and many others filled the flower beds. The back wall of the house had considerable ivy, some all the way up to the top floor. Before the family left, however, much of it had fallen off, in spite of the trimming that they had hoped would save it. The ivy on the garden wall continued to thrive.

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