The Sock has let you all down badly and missed the opportunity to dig for some interesting bits of gossip about Matthew Wilson. Boohoo!
It all started after the Sock blogged about Keith Wiley's wonderful planting at The Garden House, Buckland Monachorum a few weeks ago. Martyn Cox commented that Keith Wiley's own garden 'Wildside' was even better and was also the subject of a new TV programme. As 'Wildside' is only open to the public on Thursdays the Sock bit the bullet and emailed Mr. Wiley asking if would be possible to see the garden at the weekend as she wanted to write about it for 'The Sea of Immeasurable Gravy' voted Best Bloggywog Ever. This was very brave as the 'hand behind the Sock' is usually rather unassuming. It paid off as Keith Wiley replied to say that his wife (the artist Ros Wiley) was taking part in an Open Studio event for ten days and the adjoining garden would also be open.
The studio entrance to the garden was crammed with Ros Wiley's vivid artwork much of which had been inspired by landscapes which in turn had inspired the garden. Five years ago Wildside was a flat field but working together with his wife, Keith Wiley has transformed it into a sculptured garden with curves, corners, mounds, slopes and valleys, a stream bed snaking around one side waiting to be filled with water. The planting is extraordinarily rich in texture creating a flowing tapestry of colour and form.
Geysers of grasses gush out from the landscape amongst acers, agapanthus and sedums.
Turning a corner the mood changed.. a flat lawn with apple trees surrounded by dreamier softer colours of purples and blues where Keith Wiley was weeding amongst a profusion of pink colchicum. An opportunity to get the low-down! But instead of saying "Hi - I'm Arabella Sock" and gleaning an in-depth interview the Sock lost her bottle and just smiled and said predictably "Hi, I love your garden".
Keith Wiley told us that Channel 4 had been filming the garden for part of the 'Landscape Man'* series. The Sock expressed her pleasure that at last we would have a programme where the garden was the star performer (eclipsing even the charms of Matthew 'Darcy' Wilson) when Wiley wryly said "Actually, the producers were keen to document the 'human element' behind the garden - how my wife and I battled adversity and stress to build it." "Oh what a shame" intoned the Sock "gardens are supposed to be relaxing". "It wasn't stressful until they turned up" laughed Wiley and the Sock didn't think he was entirely joking.
At this point, of course, the Sock should have got the lowdown on the whole thing, but having not mentioned she was a Sock already (a confession which, let's face it, most people would shy from) it seemed rude to grill Wiley for gossip she might use on her blog. Pfft! The Sock's roving reporter days are over before they began.
What the Sock did take from 'Wildside' (apart from a book**) was a complete revision in her ideas about planting schemes. The Sock has always preferred to plant like with like, grasses with succulents, shrubs in a shrubbery, carefully colour coded flowering plants together in a matching harmony. Keith Wiley's disregard for these notions of propriety created a garden full of movement and excitement where, as he said "No plant is allowed to be a prima-donna". Prized acers rubbed shoulders with prairie plantings to create a synergy where the whole gardenscape was greater than any individual plants. The Sock intends to liberate her unhappily-potted acers and merge them into the borders.
* The eagerly awaited 'Landscape Man - Grand Designs in the Garden' series appears to have been postponed until next year along with the publication of Matthew Wilson's book! That means no gardening programmes of any interest for ages and no inspiration for the Sock either!!