I visited Hillside in February this year as winter was turning towards spring. The dried stems of last year’s blooms scratched into the sky. Down beneath many forms of snowdrops were being inspected by Dan and near neighbour, Mary Keen.
It was now six months later and in early September I was back photographing a story about food. It was meant to be done a month or so earlier, but a disappointingly wet and cold August had set things back in the vegetable garden.
I was so happy to be able to able to come back and see the garden at the height of summer. I always feel so lucky we live in a place with such marked seasonality, where change is continual and extraordinary.
In February I had photographed the garden and posted it on Dig Delve, so thought I might do the same some six months later.
These pictures, as with the ones from the earlier visit, aren’t an attempt to photograph the entirety of the garden. More like a journal of the day. My attempt to describe and share the things that interested me, caught my imagination and curiosity. I am fascinated by what makes a garden and how to describe and tell the moments that shine within it.
This is a garden that feels full of joy. It is a garden as much about Dan and Huw’s love of gardening and their curiosity, as it is about creating a beautiful space to experience.
It sits so comfortably within the valley, the folds of the hills hide the seams where the garden moves in the fields beyond. One rolls into the other. The garden loses its boundary and gains a landscape.
I was moved by its softness and intimacy. Its scale more delicate and human than I had imagined. Full of care and invention and life. A new bed for sun loving plants, which was being drawn out with sticks and string in February, was now planted with gangly yellow brooms and slender, pendulous agapanthus.
Anyway, here is my story from that day.
Words and photographs: Howard Sooley
Published 23 September 2023