Ten tonnes of soil and 180m of turf have made John Simpson’s garden in Upwey, Weymouth, a paradise over the past year. Now he hopes his wildlife haven will make lots of money for Weldmar’s outstanding end of life care – as his garden was one of Weldmar’s Open Gardens in 2017.
The engineer has created an amazing breadth of horticological interest in his back garden in Chapel Lane.
There’s a stream running through the middle, ponds stocked with fish, newts, toads and other species. A ship-style gallery sprouts up in the middle, surrounded by blooms of every hue, and relaxing places to sit and watch the flora and fauna.
Last year, John opened his garden numerous times for Weldmar, having found the support of our fundraising team to be a huge help.
He said: “I did open the garden before for charity, but I didn’t really get any help. But when I offered to open for Weldmar I really felt supported – the team all came round after the Midnight Walk and we had a party.”
John’s garden, which also features a wall made of bottles, a wooden sculpture you can move round to create a design, a child’s ride-on toy and fruit and veg areas, stays open sometimes so that visitors can enjoy it in a whole different light; it is transformed at night into a wonderland, with coloured lights twinkling through the foliage.
John, 67, said: “I thought the garden was looking a bit tired so I’ve pretty much completely redone it over the last two years. I’m an engineer, not a gardener, and I’ve built everything myself, even the trellis, which will stay strong for years. I had my own fencing and landscaping business before I retired. I decided when I got my retirement money to get it all up together.”
John likes to plant on a whim, preferring the garden to ‘evolve’ rather than plan planting schemes.
He said: “All the elements of the garden go around and come back to the water. We have so much wildlife here – toads, newts, foxes, a badger, deer – we’ve been awarded Dorset Wildlife Trust accreditation and won 5th place in the trust’s wildlife garden competition this year. The judges said my garden was like having lots of different rooms.”
The garden is so wildlife-friendly that trust staff often come to remove newts from John’s pond to establish colonies elsewhere. And they are very impressed at the grass snakes who have taken up residence.
“It’s something they are very keen on as they are in decline,” says John. “My stepdaughter sets up a moth trap once a month and she caught 53 species of moth last month. One was so big I thought it was a bat.”
The microclimate in the garden means there are species in it not seen outside of Abbotsbury Sub-tropical Gardens in this area.