Some close friends of ours have sold their house. Well, yes, of course, they are entitled to, it’s theirs.

But we are finding it very sad.

Susan_Wright Garden crocosmia Lucifer

How many gardeners are brave enough to create something as joyful as this? (It’s Crocosmia Lucifer)

We’ve spent many happy hours in that house with them, so that it will be a sad loss to never be there again. And I love the whole thing – the furniture choices, the decoration, the details, all of it. As we’ve sat there talking, drinking, eating and sometimes having our haircut (our roving hairdresser does us all) I’ve loved looking round at it all.

Susan Wright Garden

And then, same place but later in the year. Clipped Parrotia persica.

But, hey – that’s nothing. They are also leaving the garden!

I’ve lost count of how many years we’ve been visiting, but through that whole time Sue has (with assistance from John, of course) been making the garden. We have spent hours together looking, thinking, discussing what could be done. Sometimes our plans, or a version of them happened. Sometimes we would arrive to be shown a surprise – a new planting or even a new garden. One of those, we will now never see mature.


One of the best things, every visit, was seeing the latest arrangement on the steps.

The great joy of helping in a planning and theorising kind of way with a friend is that you don’t have to get your own spade out. They do that, you just admire or critique the result. You help, but most of all you just enjoy.

Whenever I go out into my own garden I may find fresh pleasure as a new plant has flowered or some other good thing has occurred. And equally something may have died. Been eaten. Fallen over. Or got blight.

Drive border, Susan Wright garden

This is the way out, if you can bear to leave.

I understand it takes five good things to make us feel better after one bad. (Remember that when you criticise your partner’s stacking of the dishwasher – you will need to compensate with one, two, three, four, yes five compensatory compliments to make them feel happy again. Is it worth it?) So I go out into the garden half in anticipation and half in dread. One mouse eaten hellebore flower is going to need many compensatory goodies.

Verbena bonariensis

Verbena bonariensis beautifully displayed against a lime washed wall.

However – visit a friend and it all becomes much easier. We do feel for our friend’s disappointments. Of course we do. And we never, of course not, never, feel a little flush of pleasure that our roses are not covered in that unsightly mildew. And if we proposed a plant or a design element and disaster has struck, we feel a little guilty and sad. But it is never quite as bad as this happening to us in our own patch. It just isn’t.


The Picket Fence Garden

Basically your own garden can rarely give you plain, unadulterated pleasure. You’re always tending to be looking for faults, always looking at work needing doing. A friend’s garden does none of this. Usually. You may, I admit, point out a plant in the wrong place and feel a little tension until it goes. And it does need to be a garden well designed, well made and well maintained. This garden is, bluntly, unusual. (See more here)

Susan-Wright-Garden, view

And now I am to lose this great joy. It’s very hard.

But I do write this also full of appreciation for the pleasure Sue and John’s house and garden have given us.

Susan Wright

The garden maker – Susan Wright. And thanks to Charles Hawes for some of the photographs.