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Lystra is the home of Viv and Roger Barrett, at the lower end of Paul Mead. This is mostly surrounded by trees, although one can get a great view of Painswick Church in winter from Roger’s elevated pagoda. Like all gardens in what used to be the old army tyre depot of Paul Camp, digging here can be difficult, due to patches of thick concrete just below the surface. However, the garden itself gives no sign of this, looking inviting, relaxing and, now, fully mature. The garden is divided into several elements, from a high terrace at the back of the house, set off by ornamental stone balusters, with a well-developed kitchen garden to one side; two facing flights of stone steps leading to a formal garden around a large rectangular pond with rounded corners, fed by a stone-lined rill from one side; and going on down to a more informal cottage garden at the rear, merging into a copse of trees leading out to Back Edge Lane.
During our visit, one’s eye was drawn to some stunning flame-scarlet, tall ‘Ladybird’ poppies, with a pink Beauty Bush in full flower behind. We could also see and hear lots of bees from the hives of Chris and Chris Wilkes just over the way down Back Edge. Part of the back of the house was covered by a magnificent wisteria and I much admired a fine specimen of Rosa ‘Golden Passion’. There were also drifts of shasta daisies, beds with tall foxgloves (digitalis) and a few mature fruit trees. However, the central, stone-lined pond was the garden’s principal feature, fed by its stone rill, with water lilies, roach (the Barretts confided that they had thought they had put minnows in the pond), bog plants and a fine, tinkling fountain in the centre on a raised plinth.
The garden was also graced by a number of Roger’s whimsical art installations, including a ski jumper made out of an old surfing bodyboard and odd bits and pieces, a Potteresque golden quidditch cleverly suspended on near-invisible fishing line over the centre of the garden, a large, wrought iron ‘Supertree’ with suspended glass baubles in the middle and, finally, Roger’s celebrated zip wire at the bottom end. Our visit ended with a photograph of Viv and Roger in front of their terrace wall, with Viv holding a rather menacing looking mini-mattock!
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