We were off on our travels again this week and although we didn’t go very far, we spent the morning in a magical woodland world, one created a mere 17 years ago by Janet and David Ledsham who live near Cairncastle in County Antrim.
When the Ledshams went to live at Cairncastle they inherited a field on a sloping site, which had been well and truly grazed by sheep and where the land came close to the back of the house, blocking out the light and creating problems with damp.
So in a purely practical bid to solve those problems, a garden began to take shape. Earth needed to be shifted, a terrace created and paths determined.
Young saplings were used to mark out the pathways and big boulders and lovely big lumps of stone helped to mould the garden, alongside mounds of shifted earth.
David and Janet are both artists, so the garden very much reflects their sense of colour and form and given that they have almost two acres to fill, it’s no surprise that most of the plants in the garden have been grown from seed.
It must be the best feeling to know that the trees which today tower overhead were grown from seed and planted out as seedlings.
As Reg Maxwell, who was there on the day reminded us, trees planted as young saplings and grown without stakes develop a stronger root system as they brace themselves against wind and weather.
From the back of the house it’s hard to immediately see the pathways which thread their way around this “still evolving” garden.
As you begin to explore, there is a lovely sense of discovering hidden places and everywhere is the presence of water with small meandering streams flowing from a hidden spring and discreet pools round every corner.
On the day of our visit the plants which stopped us in our tracks were the hellebores, colonies of exquisitely coloured and delicately patterned woodland lovelies, growing alongside happy clumps of snowdrops. Tall or small with many petals or sweet and simple they reminded us on a chill February day that spring is just round the corner.