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The Bad Tempered Gardener- interview with Anne Wareham

Article by Fabafterfifty

At Fabafterfifty we love to see women over 50 follow their dreams. Anne Wareham  has not only created an acclaimed garden with her husband Charles Hawes, the Veddw, on the Welsh borders, but Anne has also written a book to share her experiences. Anne sees the garden as an art form- and has often provoked the traditional world of gardening with her own approach and comments. We asked Anne about her book,’The Bad Tempered Gardener’ and , of course, her garden.
Why did you write the book?
 It was taking a chance – I started it without a commission – but I wanted to write freely about gardening and the garden world without the usual constraints of the garden media. The demand to be ‘nice’ and bland…
How did you choose the title for the book?
Struggled for ages then it was one of those things that just popped into my head. Done! Christopher Lloyd (major gardener) wrote a book called ‘The Well Tempered Garden’ so it was a bit of an in joke too..

Is it true that you tend to challenge conventional views on gardening?
Absolutely. People are so uncritical of plants, gardens, gardening methods, garden designers and ‘experts’ that it’s not very difficult.
How did you find your own love of gardening?
Someone gave me a packet of herb seeds when I lived in a London flat. I started a little herb garden on the roof and got addicted.

When did you start creating the gardens at Veddw?
About 24 years ago.
Why did you decide to take an unorthodox approach to your garden?
The garden isn’t terribly unorthodox in itself, though it does have the addition of an element of tribute to the agricultural labourers who lived hard lives here for much of the last 200 years. I have attempted to use the garden as a way to honour their memory and to remind visitors of the history of the land here.
Has the garden turned out the way you wanted it to?
 I think it has – though not how I imagined, because at first I hardly knew what I was doing.
How much of your time do you spend gardening? 

Not much! I have worked out easier ways than the ones the ‘experts’ tend to propose and it is a country garden, so excessive tidiness and manicuring is inappropriate. I have some very useful weeds and a strong man who comes once a fortnight to do heavier work, including cutting the miles of hedges. My greatest addiction may be to hedges…
Would you have started if you’d known how much of your life it would take over?
I don’t know. It’s scary to contemplate trying to maintain it when we get old. It’s expensive. Opening it, writing and dealing with the garden media world has been very bruising at times.
But we cannot imagine parting from the garden now it is here. Bit like having a child maybe? I chose not to do that and it was that which probably made the garden possible.
What would it take for you to be a ‘good tempered’ gardener? 🙂

 Success? It might reduce the bruising bits, bring enough work and visitors to enable us to keep living here.Or it could just possibly introduce a lot more exposure to the bruises!

The Bad Tempered Gardener by Anne Wareham is published by Frances Lincoln. To find out more about Veddw, Anne’s stunning garden, or to to arrange a visit, contavt Anne via her website www.veddw.com


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