Marsh Villa Gardens, Par

What a surprise and pleasure to enter the garden of Marsh Villa, sandwiched between a busy road and the main railway line, to find such a haven of tranquillity and welcome shade on such a warm day. It was also surprising to learn that the garden had been created out of marshland – the upper reaches of the former tidal creek reaching from Par to Treesmill. Land had been reclaimed from the marsh by dumping any available material, originally to prevent regular flooding of the house.

IMG_2422 - CopyIMG_2423 - CopyThe inspiration for the start of the garden came from Judith Stephens, who, with her husband Harvey, had been farming on Bodmin Moor. When they came to take on the family home at Marsh Villa Judith was horrified by the semi – urban surroundings and immediately set about importing any available top-soil and planting trees to provide privacy. This was twenty seven years ago. Now mature trees, many of interest, provide the structure. Paths meander through glades and under planting of many shrubs and colourful herbaceous plants. A large pond at natural water table level was splendid with water lilies and prolific marginal planting, with a shady summerhouse to sit and admire the view. In fact plenty of seating was conveniently placed in sun and shade around the garden. Behind newly planted yew hedging, replacing old Escallonia was a formal garden with central rose arbour and herbaceous borders. Paths went out at the lower level to wander through the marshland – dry underfoot at this time of year! Judith and Harvey made us very welcome, ready to share their experiences, and ended our visit by providing a welcome cream tea in the shaded interior of a converted barn.

Elisabeth Walker