An experimental garden

01:16 06 October 2011

An experimental garden

An experimental garden

Naomi Slade visits 'mix and match' gardener Nicki Whiteman and hears her exciting plans for autumn and winter


Having talked gardening with Nicki Whitemans on BBC Radio Berkshire on a regular basis for the last year or so, I jumped at the chance to check out her plot on the outskirts of Chieveley.


Nestling between high evergreen hedges, the garden boasts a spectacular view of rolling countryside under an immense, ever changing sky. It was a blank canvas five years ago, but she has since developed its character and it is now very much a family garden, with irregularly-shaped flower beds, seating areas and a raised deck pretty with bunting and with a hammock perfectly positioned to admire the scenery.


Nicki is a great bargain hunter and picks up many of her plants at supermarkets or from friends: "Gardening on a budget, thats totally me!"


"By spending less money there is less disappointment and way more satisfaction and I trade with my neighbours too." The grapevine climbing the pergola hails from Lidl and the fine array of cornflowers is another coup. "I threw the seeds into the border, and up they all came!" declares Nicki.


As a result her planting is cheerful, eclectic and evolving but on trend nevertheless. Veg in the borders is a la mode but it has been a bit of a challenge. "It looked lovely for a while, mixing the red-leaved lettuce with rocket, chard and lime-green perpetual lettuce, but they go over and then you get a gap." But elsewhere there are success stories; there are grapes on the vine, peppers and tomatoes in pots and rosemary and oregano grow in happy companionship. Eldest daughter Molly, too, is very proud of her sunflower and the tiny oak she grew from an acorn.


Autumn brings new excitement and new plans. The deep purple sedums are thriving and dahlias are a particular favourite: "They just keep going and I love them for that, the Trojans!" Nicki enthuses. "But Im planning to get more colour and interest in over winter. Id like a carpet of snowdrops and crocuses under the trees, and Im going to plant a low hedge as a windbreak and to help keep the field out the poppies are pretty, but the stinging nettle battle is endless!"


This may be so, but the eye is always being drawn back to that view and the field filled, in early summer, with shimmering grain. "It is a bit like living by the sea," says Nicki. "When the sun sets over the barley my hammock is one of the best spots in West Berkshire!"



Nicki Whiteman presents the breakfast show on BBC Radio Berkshire, Saturdays 6-9am, and the gardening show with Colin Evans, Sundays 12noon-2pm.


0 comments

More from Homes & Garden

Friday, April 10, 2015
Lily & Lime Striped Bedding Set

Great British Life is offering a beautiful double bedding set worth £165 to a lucky reader.

Read more
Monday, March 16, 2015
It is important when planning garden lighting to remember that a little goes a long way

Get switched on, improve security and bring your garden to life in a few easy steps

Read more
Sunday, December 7, 2014
Secret Santa gifts

Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you have to compromise on quality of gifts this Christmas.

Read more
Christmas
Thursday, December 4, 2014
Pawpost delivery

Our favourite Christmas gifts for both animal loving friends and their furry four legged pets.

Read more
Christmas
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Christmas blooms

Whether you want to buy something for the home, a hostess gift or just want to treat yourself this Christmas, we’ve rounded up our favourite presents.

Read more
Christmas
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Rugby ball print

If you’re looking for a unique Christmas gift for your husband, brother or dad, look no further! We’ve wrapped up this season’s best gifts, so you don’t have to.

Read more
Christmas
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Festive treats for your home

Light some scented candles, start the fire, hang the decorations, then take a seat and enjoy Christmas in your home.

Read more
Christmas
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Gifts for the person who has everything

We all have that one person who already has everything they want or need. So branch out and give them something they didn’t even know they wanted!

Read more
Christmas
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Give your mantlepiece a festive makeover

The annual tradition of advent calendars definitely gets us in the festive spirit so we’re eagerly counting down the days till the first of December. Here are our favourites to celebrate the arrival of Christmas.

Read more
Christmas
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
The perfect gift for garden lovers

Looking for festive gifts for garden enthusiasts? We’ve rounded up our favourite presents for gardeners to help you get started with your Christmas shopping.

Read more
Christmas
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
A blue tit feeding during the winter months

Promotional feature: As the colder weather approaches, spare a thought for the wild birds in your garden. CJ Wildlife offer some tips on how you can help them survive the winter.

Read more
Monday, September 29, 2014

The Royal British Legion is calling on the public to plant a living legacy for those who fought and died in the First World War as part of its Centenary commemorations. Working in partnership with Ashridge Nurseries on a project called Centenary Gardens, the Legion aims to keep the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the First World War alive for future generations.

Read more
Monday, September 15, 2014
Witcombe Court, Little Witcombe, Gloucestershire

A lovely example of a significant Georgian country home, offering a spectacular interior and views to Coopers Hill

Read more
Friday, September 12, 2014
The AGA City60 in rose

Promotional Feature

Celebrate the arrival of the new 60cm-wide AGA City60 at one of the many events planned across the UK.

Read more

NEWSLETTER SIGNUP



Shropshire's trusted business finder

subscription ad

subscription ad