Floral fiesta - Gardens in Hampshire

PUBLISHED: 13:36 17 June 2011 | UPDATED: 19:34 20 February 2013

Floral fiesta - Gardens in Hampshire

Floral fiesta - Gardens in Hampshire

Abundantly planted with exuberant colour, Michaelmas in Fareham is a summery garden not to be missed

Ros and Jack Wilson aptly describe their garden, Michaelmas, as a very cheerful, colourful small garden with the wow factor. A lot has indeed been achieved in a small space with a delightful jumble of plants that have mostly been grown from seed or cuttings, massed containers and a vegetable area, all displayed in a relaxed country style.
The garden is only a one-minute walk to the sea but is set on heavy clay and is slightly sheltered by the neighbouring house, with a microclimate that is warmer in winter with very little frost and cooled by sea breezes in the summer. When the Wilsons arrived in 1987 the garden was mainly trees, including mature conifers, with virtually no flowers.
A blessing in disguise was the great storm a month after we moved in when many of the trees were lost and I could then redesign the garden, recalls Ros.
Priorities were to improve the soil with lots of organic matter and to ensure the garden would be filled with flowers through the seasons.
I have always liked a cottage style and lots of colour. This garden is three or four times larger than our previous garden so it offered lots of opportunities, says Ros.
The garden has gradually evolved as a wide variety of flowering plants were added. Through watching numerous gardening programmes and then doing an RHS certificate course at Sparsholt College near Winchester, Ros knowledge and expertise has grown along with the garden. The blend of colours is quite eclectic but works well, especially in the high summer light.

We sit out in the garden a great deal, from breakfast on the patio, lunch at the bottom of the garden or the bench half way down during the day.

I just pop plants where I think they look good. The main garden is full of perennials and any gaps are quickly filled with annuals propagated in the greenhouse, being placed to weave in with the look, says Ros. In summer the garden is awash with blue tones, pinks are added with the blue hues for summer and the colours get brighter in late summer.
From the house, you step out onto the terrace then down to a lawn edged in densely planted borders. Drawing the eye is a massed arrangement of containers that changes with the seasons. Stepping-stones lead around the lawn to an arch, smothered in climbers, which offers a tantalizing glimpse to a gravel garden beyond. Here the colours intensify with astringent lime green alchemilla mollis spreading over the gravel and splashes of intense reds from pelargoniums, nasturtiums and crocosmia spilling out of pots. There is also an assortment of containers with vegetables and herbs along with small produce beds, compost bins and water butts.
Relaxing in the garden is important for Ros and Jack, with benches and seats positioned to make the best of the vistas and light conditions.
We sit out in the garden a great deal, from breakfast on the patio, lunch at the bottom of the garden or the bench half way down for anytime in the day, says Ros. Visitors through the National Gardens Scheme are made very welcome to take time to soak up the atmosphere of this sunny garden.
Opening is great fun as everyone enjoys coming, we have a group of friends helping and it is like a weekend party, adds Ros.

Opening times
Michaelmas, Hill Head, Fareham, PO14 3HU
Sun 10, Mon 11 July (2-5)
Adm: 2.50, chd: free
The National Gardens Scheme

Ros top tips
When starting out go with what you like, dont just follow the fashion.
Talk to fellow gardeners to pick up ideas.
Place a lining over the ground before placing gravel.
Compost bins are great for all your cuttings and vegetable waste.
Collect water for the garden in water butts.
Try vegetables and herbs mixed with flowers.
Tomatoes and aubergines do well together in a container.
Spreading plants such as alchemilla mollis are good value and easy to divide and add to other areas.

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