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A few days later, Kel and I paid separate visits to Tony Beard’s beautiful garden at The Old Farm, down the steep bank between Cud Lane and the Edgemoor Inn. This had not been one of the six gardens originally slated to form part of Open Gardens 2020. However, Tony offered it recently, after open visits had to be cancelled, and Malcolm Hollingsworth, the organiser, had been grateful to accept it for inclusion in the magazine, and the special website being set up to help raise funds for Edge Church and the Village Hall.
To get to the Old Farm by car, one must drive down a narrow, curved track between the trees, until the fine old house and grounds appear before you on a broad, open, slightly sloping plateau, about half way between the level of the main road and Martin Slinger’s fields below. The house was originally two separate cottages, with parts dating from the 15th Century (as described in the April 2013 edition of the old Parish Magazine). One can also walk there along the footpath from Edge Green. The garden faces south east and is about four acres all told. One’s first view from the drive is of an arboretum on the right of seventy-five ornamental trees, carefully selected for Spring blossom and Autumn colour by Tony and his late wife Diana, who will be fondly remembered by many of our readers.
To get to the house itself, visitors then descend two or three short flights of steps protected by weathered Cotswold stone parapets, to find, on the right-hand side, a hidden paved garden of mature shrubs, including lavenders, yellow choisya and some stunning, large white hydrangeas. At one end, there is also an ornamental stone well, spouting a tinkling jet of water. One then walks round to the front of the house, past some colourful hanging baskets and out onto a large, semi-circular lawn, to confront quite the best view in all of Edge; a broad sweep of the Painswick Valley, past Edge and the old lane down to the Washbrook, with the high ground around the Beacon rising beyond, with vistas of trees and fields in between, the tall church spire and town below, and then right round back to the Edgemoor.
There is another fine lawn in front of the house, with a stone paved terrace with seating, with carefully maintained shrub beds here and there. However, one’s eye is drawn irresistibly to the large pond further on past the house, partly shaded by the trees rising upwards to the road. The pond is fed by a natural spring flowing out of the bank in the top corner of what had once been an old apple orchard, landscaped to ripple over several small weirs, under a mature weeping willow, with an overflow to take the water back into the stream. Here there are also some specimen bamboos and walnut trees. Moreover, the pond is bordered all the way around by tall bulrushes, interspersed with clumps of yellow and blue irises, other bog plants and, at one point, a big gunnera (giant rhubarb). The surface is also graced by several patches of white water lilies, with their round, waxy green leaves. The pond is stocked with trout and goldfish, which are occasionally taken by heron. The last time I had visited, the pond was being threatened by some invasive species of water weed, so I was relieved to see that most of this had been cleared and Tony told me that this is now more easily controlled. The pond and its surroundings on a warm summer’s day are quite magical, shielded by the rising thick screen of trees from any traffic noise from the road above, with sunlight glittering on the water, the hum of insects, birdsong and the stark, dark, dappled contrast provided by all the surrounding water plants. Before leaving, Kel asked Tony to pose for a photograph with his favourite gardening tool, as he had done with everyone else taking part, and hence the fine image in these pages of Tony atop his Stiga Park Pro ride-on lawnmower.
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