MORE THAN JUST A GARDEN
Gardens :: Training :: Art & Craft
The gardens at Merryweathers are the creation and lifetime’s devotion of just two people – husband and wife partnership Ian and Liz O’Halloran. We started the gardens from scratch in the winter of 1995/96, and as you meander around them today it is hard to imagine that there was nothing here just a few years ago. We came here with no horticultural training, very little money and our only qualifications were a love of gardening and wildlife. Because of the scale of what we took on, it also helped that Ian was a qualified civil engineer as well as being an artist with an almost primaeval connection with the landscape which underlies the gardens we are creating. Nestling on the edge of the Sussex High Weald the land (in total, just under 6 acres) had been long neglected, but was a blank slate apart from a sea of docks, thistles and creeping buttercup – and piles and piles of scrap metal.
Our aim was to become more self-sufficient (to grow our own food and to use the land as a sustainable resource); to encourage wildlife and to create one of the best and most inspiring gardens in the country.
We want people and wildlife to travel long distances just to experience these gardens and when they leave, we want them to feel better for having been here, and hopefully, to have learnt something or been inspired in some way.
We garden according to organic principles which means working with nature, building up natural soil fertility, encouraging natural predators and growing healthy plants which can fend for themselves.
Because most of the time there are only two of us working here we have gradually developed labour-saving ways of doing things. We haven’t got it all right yet, but each year we learn a bit more.
The "gardens" when we arrived in 1994