Skymeadow is a small triangular plot situated where the rolling lands of the English Midlands slope down to the flat terrain of East Anglia. Unlike much of East Anglia, whose soils vary from sandy heath to organic peat Skymeadow has the heavy clay soils of the East Midlands. There were advantages and disadvantages to this, as the clay is hard to work but is richly fertile. This shaped Hart's gardening, for such soils are usually handled by the plough, but the land had not been ploughed for many years. Essentially the farm had been a much loved hobby farm that fed its previous owners to some degree. It was ripe to be turned into an expansive garden.
The area is, like much of South East Britain, drier than the west of the country, as it is further from the prevailing Atlantic winds that soak us in the West.But the drier and colder easterlies afflict it.While water is not currently a problem, Hart had to consider his water usage and retention.
As one who works a small plot I was initially baffled by how he would manage seven acres while keeping down a job. But Hart minimised his work by planting trees.He inherited a small, productive orchard with plums and apples, but augmented his facilities with a wider range of tree, including cherries, gages and figs. He also installed a long hawthorn hedge. He speaks of his elm hedge. This is interesting as Dutch Elm Disease has all but wiped out the elm in England, but it seems that the disease only strikes at a certain level of maturity, so the elm survives as a bush. This is interesting information.
Flowers are a major crop, and he has worked diligently to plant roses in many of the flower beds.This is in memory of his childhood home, a farm not far north of where he now dwells. A range of other flowers has gone into the garden, including snow drops. I notice that his use of bulbs indicates a decision to opt for lower maintenance. This is how he manages seven acres!
A productive vegetable garden is found at Skymeadow, and the author keeps a number of animals, including dogs, cats and chickens. The cats are maintained to deal with the perennial problem of mice Skymeadow is a garden where wild life is welcomed, and there is a badger sett in a quiet corner of the garden.A range of wild birds can also be found.
Yet Skymeadow is a family garden where space for children to play is important, there being a small football pitch for his son Isaac. We see therefore that the garden is a wide use of space whose management makes room for all stakeholders. Thus family life is not being neglected, and this is a great positive, as Hart shows that he is not indulging his gardening obsession at the expense of others.