What an extraordinary year 2019 has turned out to be!

Summer was late to arrive in June but arrived with a trumpet fanfare as temperatures shot off the scale and we woke day after day to sunshine and cerulean skies. it was wonderful but our 100yard long mixed border struggled for water and it became a daily preoccupation to preserve all the recent plantings.

With faint hearts we had replaced roses and herbaceous plants destroyed by herds of wild deer which had wreaked havoc in the garden. As a last attempt we bought wonderful roses from Just Roses near Northiam, East Sussex. Their quality is unsurpassable and in June the border was crammed with exquisite baby roses surrounded by vast peonies, hardy geraniums, campanulas, verbascums, lupins and delphiniums.

A nervous hunt on Google produced a new type of deer repellent. We have two, nicknamed the “Squawk Boxes”. They have detectors which pick up sound, heat and movement and give a seven second burst from an internal radio while a flash light switches on. In the dark one would really think there were people walking through the garden with flashlights.

Amusingly, they work most effectively when tuned to a speech station. We are demoralising our deer with a blast of Radio 4’s incessant Brexit coverage by day and informing them of the world at large with The World Service at night. Mercifully it cannot be heard in the house or the cottage but guests walking along the long path have been highly amused.

We’ve had temperatures soaring to above 37 degrees when we took to the shade of our lovely trees as our guests lounged on the cottage stoop. When the weather settled guests took the garden table from the stoop and set up on the lawn by the cottage bay window. Many spent long days there, lounging, reading and eating every meal surrounded by trees and roses.

More recently we’ve had high winds, which rushing through our mighty oaks. beeches and cedars of Lebanon, resembled Tolkein’s “ Ents” communicating with each other in an arboreal language of their own.

Sara Bernhart
Phlox, agapanthus and geraniums
Walking to the cottage the air was heavy with scent and  only the sound of birdsong.

Walking to the cottage the air was heavy with scent and only the sound of birdsong.