‘Behind The Green Door’ – Garden Designers Round Table post: Garden Travel / Best Garden

| April 24, 2012 | 8 Comments



one more night without sleepin’


till the morning comes peepin’

Green door

whats the secret you’re keepin’?’

goes an old tune of my youth.

For sure, we all have landmarks along the routes we take, and for a while this has been one of mine.

Lesley and I have been designing a garden for clients in the airy heights of Clifton.

And anyone who knows Clifton will know that trying to park there is a complete nightmare.

Inevitably you trawl the streets and then, space found, plod, arms laden with books, measuring tapes and files, back to your destination.

And very often this was the view which faced me along the way:

My route led me (wearily uphill) to the left to our client’s property and garden with stunning views over south Bristol and to the Mendips beyond. ( We will post on that project in due course.)

But frankly, I found the route downhill past another property physically more appealing and mentally too since it took me somewhere else.

A shut door is so often intriguing.

Take late last year at Wells Bishop’s Palace Gardens, I was inevitably drawn to this one beneath its billowing curtain of Vitis cognettiae:


Peeping through the crack in the door, eagle eyed Webber saw:

The mediaeval moat with emerald weeds swaying in its aquamarine waters:

But the green door in Clifton

with its entry phone and yale lock has remained resolutely shut. No innocently popping through to shove a business card in there!

And no crack to peep through either!

‘Wish they’d let me in
So I could find out what’s
behind the green door.’

I must admit that a major part of the fascination for me is:

the immense Monkey Puzzle.

which for years must have vied with the house, but now soars aloft.
I would like to see how they have fitted the tree into the garden landscape.
Or more correctly built the landscape around the tree, since it must completely characterise the space.
‘there’s an old piano and
they play it hot
behind the green door
don’t know what they’re doin’
but they laugh a lot
behind the green door’

Not seeing anything, I imagine a circular floor plan to mimic the canopy above, lustrous evergreens, lots of white flowers – gardenias and camellias, clouds of heady scent, strong verticals to counterbalance the overriding vertical of the central trunk.
I want a sense but not a pastiche of victoriana.

Maybe they have resolved it or maybe they haven’t behind the green door in Clifton. The truth in life, as of many parties, is often more prosaic.

But what is behind one green door never disappoints. And I don’t have a photo of it  for you.  It is also now just purely in my mind.

Much of my childhood was spent happily playing in a garden behind a high wall. Access to the street was through a green, always locked, door!

Maybe on life’s journey the best garden is the garden you haven’t seen yet and the garden of your childhood!

‘All I want to do

is join the happy crew

behind the green door.’

It is the travel either back or forward, the wanting, not the having…………

Unless it is a garden which we have designed, naturellement!


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  1. I confess to having peeped over my share of garden fences over the years. As much as I enjoy a mystery, however, I want to know what’s back there! If you ever wrangle a tour, I’m hoping for a sequel to this post.

  2. Robert says:

    Think most people have had a peep or two over walls and hedges in their time if they are honest enough to admit it. I just wasn’t tall enough.
    Perhaps one day I will just ring the bell and join the party!
    Thanks for your comment.

  3. David C. says:

    I recall places (without the hills!) in Belgium, perhaps when my interest in gardens-architecture-spaces started. Many old walls, overgrown with plants, and they always intrigued me to explore. Even open woods!

    Carrying measuring tapes, books, laptop, etc a pain, but I think of it as making me feel the land more (and feeling less bad abuot that last croissant or donut). Amazing how that gets one in touch with the land they are working with.

    Your take on the one home with the monkey puzzle…I often envision some quick, broad-brush designs for such things I’ll probably never work on. Or will I?

  4. Robert says:

    Hi David,

    thanks for your very interesting response.
    yes what is a garden after all. and in our exploration we soak up influences and ideas which in our future we cannibalise for designs. We take ourselves too and our childhood responses, experiences and feelings.
    completely agree re travelling by foot to feel land inside a garden. no use just standing in a garden you are designing. you very quickly appreciate levels, soil moisture, soil stability and also of course, hot and cold and light and shade etc by walking around.
    glad you do these broad brush things too. like mental excercise really, and again developing ideas you can use in the future in other locations. also think that good speed of thought and flow of ideas once developed as a skill impresses clients, because you then seem, as you in fact are, enthusiastic about landscape design and likely to be creative for them.
    thanks for your thoughts.
    look forward to reading other posts than mine, but a bit pushed tonight ahead of meeting tomorrow.

  5. Pam/Digging says:

    Oh yes, there’s nothing like a closed door or gate to pique one’s curiosity. Imagination is allowed to run wild!

  6. Robert says:

    Indeed, the gardens of the mind!
    Thanks for your comment, Pam.
    All the best

  7. [...] Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK [...]

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