I know people move their homes because they have to.

For their work, for their partner, to downsize, to be closer to friends or relatives, maybe for a change. And many people don’t mind this much or positively embrace it. They may think of themselves like Socrates did, as “not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.”

The idea of moving is intolerable to me.

Though strangely I don’t feel a hundred percent at home in my home.

I am English, born and raised in England, and yet here I am, four miles over the border in Wales. And I don’t know anyone who would find this troubling apart from me. It’s fine in the UK to embrace patriotism if you’re Irish, Welsh or Scot, but not if you’re English. Even then, I think feeling displaced because you’re in the wrong country is possibly unusual. (Though oddly, this post gave rise to a discussion with a friend and a discovery that she is heading back to Scotland from England shortly for that very sort of reason).

wales sign

We’ve made a garden here.  And it’s true, that would be truly awful, leaving the garden. It feels strange to me that it’s a Welsh garden, and in many ways that costs us. We may be only four miles from the border but books about English Gardens are unlikely to include us. Garden tours usually have to be specifically visiting Wales to include us, but rather bizarrely this means that often people will make huge journeys – south to north is especially problematic – to be being in Wales.

Map of Welsh Border

There isn’t even a decent road north to south.  (Spot the border..) From where we are, near Chepstow, it’s about an hour and a half to Hidcote Garden in England, and four hours to Bodnant Garden in Wales. 

But there’s no way I am going to move, even to be back in England. I am just the peculiar kind of person who is totally committed to a place, every inch of it, house and garden. Both are rather ‘home made’, meaning we have done most of whatever has been done, in and out, ourselves – I made my kitchen as well as the garden.

Home made kitchen copyright Anne Wareham

Home made and rather random….

Part of my engagement with the place is my consciousness of its history. Exploring the history has been one way that has helped me come to terms with it being in Wales. It’s not just a different country, it has a quite foreign history for me, coming from a small Yorkshire town. It’s a tale of squatters and then tenants of Chepstow Manor, smallholders in rural isolation.  I have tried to honour this history and my predecessors in the garden. 

That Population Gate at Veddw Garden copyright Anne Wareham

And although I so want to live my whole life here, I do recognise that one day someone else will have their way with the place.

The Stone at Veddw Garden copyright Anne Wareham

We’ve left room for others to add their dates one day. (and no, those dates are not our birth dates.)

Fortunately, Charles seems as committed as I am, and is quite happy to be in Wales. (he had a Welsh grandmother).

Charles does at least like to travel, like most other people. I find I feel a day away from here is a day (almost?) wasted. I’m used to being odd, though I have never become able to enjoy being odd.

So: when I think of all those of you out there, making gardens, how does all this affect you? Are you happy to leave your garden for pastures and prairies new? Have you changed your country and found that easy? Or could you do that? Do you mind leaving your garden to go on holiday or does it tear you apart a bit? Do you love your home, with all the challenges that that brings?

Veddw prints 1987 to late 90s-4

Could you bear to start all over again? (That’s Charles, at our beginnings, with an Allen Scythe)

And are you, along with us, actually a part of a strange minority? (Or perhaps we are a silent majority? I don’t think the latter really, but who knows? After all, how many more of us would wake up at 9 o’clock if the world allowed it?)

Would you refuse to leave? Are you staying put?