The Johannes Kip engraving of Cleve Hill (1712) was one of Arne Maynard’s childhood inspirations. Equally important was the trip Maynard took with his godmother around the UK when he was thirteen. Kirby Hall was one of the gardens Maynard visited as a pre-teen and the images of this garden stuck with him: lack of color, simplicity, pattern making and plainness. These attributes became the foundation blocks of Maynard’s design at his first house.
“I never once put pen to paper at Guanock House” Maynard
The landscape at Guanock House is flat. Located in The Fens, near the village of Sutton St. Edmund. This part of eastern England is a coastal plain a few meters above sea level. The yew tree pictured above was planted on center with the house and is 600 years old
“I had in my head all those Kip engravings and that became the formal backbone of the garden design. I wanted to plant a lime tree walk. I put a spade in the ground and hit brick. It turns out there used to be a barn on this spot. We dug up all the bricks, cleaned 35,000 bricks; we used these bricks to make the walls around the property”. Arne Maynard
During the first 15 years of gardening at Guanock House, Maynard said his style slowly changed. Almost unaware of the change, the gardens became looser, more meadow-like. Guanock House and his current residence, Allt-y-bela, have totally different topography. One is hilly (Wales) and wooded, the other is totally flat (Lincolnshire).
In Wales, Maynard planted 65,000 snowdrops. Yes! that is an impressive number. But much more interesting was Maynard’s reasoning. “Over a period of 5-6 years, these snowdrops give the garden the feeling of having been there forever. It gives a feeling of antiquity. It’s always been a garden.” Maynard
Like Sarah Raven, Maynard had a few tips. His gardens are organic. He uses peppermint oil and compost tea on his fruit trees. Garlic spray on his roses. Asked: What does the peppermint oil do? Maynard: The peppermint oil coats the eggs that over-wintering insects leave.
The takeaway: “I now want to grow only my favorite plants. I cut the grass once a year. I am becoming a collector of rare plants and plants in pots. When I look at old photographs of my garden in Lincolnshire, I see the evolution of myself as a gardener.”
“I find that speaking to audiences about my ideas and approaches to design helps me to organise my thoughts and appreciate the progress that we have made over time. I was thrilled to be able to show some of the early shots of the garden at Allt y bela in this lecture and realise how far we have come since taking the house on over 10 year ago”.