A gardeners’ world

PUBLISHED: 17:23 21 August 2008 | UPDATED: 15:23 20 February 2013

Looking towards the water feature

Looking towards the water feature

Formerly an overgrown field with waist-high weeds, the garden at Little Foxes has become a varied oasis of striking foliage and flowers. Philippa Pearson enjoys its beauty

IT IS NOW 30 years since Dorothy Goode and her husband Graham moved to a new bungalow in Thorpe Bay near Southend on Sea. Their garden was just an overgrown field and originally an old gun site; buried under the top layer of soil was a mass of concrete and rubble.

Undeterred by the waist-high weeds they began to clear the area and slowly the garden took shape as curvaceous island beds were introduced and long borders flanked the perimeter edges.

Dorothy explains: 'The garden had nothing in it when we moved here, so everything you see now we've created and planted ourselves. I used to help my mum in the garden at home when I was younger and I loved gardening, so the enthusiasm just carried on here.'

As the garden developed, Dorothy very quickly mastered gardening techniques and plant knowledge. Dorothy's enthusiasm is still as strong as ever, she spends time every day in the garden, and the interesting range of plants in this third of an acre plot makes it a haven for plant lovers.

20 years of visitors
Sharing her passion with others, Dorothy has been opening her garden to visitors for more than 20 years, mainly for animal charities and the National Garden Scheme, and visitors flock to enjoy this tranquil haven and buy plants she has propagated.

Some borders are colour co-ordinated and in the yellow bed, hues of yellow and apricot from Alstromerias mingle with golden and variegated leaved foliage. A handsome wirework fox sculpture stands proudly next to a stunning Cornus controversa 'Variegata' in the black and white bed.

Alliums are a spectacular site throughout the garden in mid-spring, standing proud above the emerging foliage of other plants, while later masses of irises provide swathes of colour, particularly around the water feature where luscious green ferns sit by a flowing stream. The neutral pH of the soil suits rhododendrons, another spectacular site in late spring. Dorothy has drawn inspiration from visiting other gardens and her favourite is Glen Chantry over at Wickham Bishops.

New plants and features are continually being introduced at Little Foxes - this is not a garden that stands still. Graham has made all the wooden beehives, dovecotes and seats in the garden while Dorothy's next project is a new semi-shade border where the star plants will be Chatham Island forget-me-not.

Little Foxes is a garden where foliage takes pride of place next to flowering plants. If you are thinking of creating a garden for all year round interest, this is the place to visit for inspiration and ideas.

Contact RHS Silver-Gilt medal winner Philippa Pearson on 01767 651253 or email gardens@essexlifemag.co.uk

Latest from the Essex Life