Elizabeth, one of our lovely volunteers, is often found with trowel in hand tending the David Parr House garden. Through sun and rain she has nurtured the plants, pruned the bushes and every now and then shouted at the squirrels! Here are her musings about time spent working at the back of 186.

Spring 2022

The garden dozed rather than slept through the mild winter and now the bulbs, daffodils, tulips and the shaggy crown imperials are pushing up through plants that never quite died back…

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Late Summer 2021

The garden seems to have settled into a quiet, late summer phase but there is an atmosphere of expectation because visitors are returning at last! As they step out of the back door they will see the elegant white Honorine Jobert anemones looking across primly at the bold and brassy scarlet geraniums…

Carry on reading (Opens in PDF)


Spring arrived late in the David Parr House garden this year, then entered with a blast of primary colours: blaring red tulips on a ground of blue forget-me-nots and yellow primroses which, because of the cooler weather, have not receded yet. The apple tree is dressed in pink and white blossom and the wallflowers below are providing velvety shades of dark red and ochre.

I disciplined the roses rather severely before Christmas and I am relieved to see them sprouting and leafing up just as the pruning manual promised. The scars have faded now but ‘Darcey Bussell’ took exception to my treatment and lashed out when I wasn’t sufficiently respectful. I counselled myself, as I picked thorn tips out of my hand, that one must expect temperament in the very beautiful. The early climbing rose Canary Bird (you’ve guessed, it’s yellow) is now in flower, very prettily, all along its arching stems.

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It is January and the David Parr House garden lies withdrawn into its winter sleep. Even though the beds are bare and flowerless it can still be enchanting when the low sun casts long shadows across the ground or the frost wraps every remaining twig, stalk and dried leaf in delicate white fur. At such times I imagine the garden in the winter moonlight, an inner vision of stillness and blue shadow.

The garden has passed through its seasons very quietly this past year. There have been few people to see the Spring daffodils give way to Summer roses and these to Autumn dahlias, except for the virtual tour visitors for whom, in the garden, it is forever May.

Carry on reading (Opens in PDF)


This season in the David Parr House garden has been one of extreme weather. First, a heat wave, and appropriately the garden was full of hot colours: purple snapdragons, tall red gladioli with frilly white edges and varieties of scarlet crocosmia.

The main bed was dominated by the dahlias, bright orange pompoms on long stalks that seemed to float in the air above large bushes of dark green leaves. But the heat was too fierce for some of the plants: hollyhocks rusted, golden rod mildewed and roses sulked. So there had to be a change in my timetable as I returned in the evenings to water the garden.

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Summer came early to the garden at the David Parr House, with a long spell of warm weather in May. Sadly, there were still no visitors but the plants put on a splendid performance all the same.

Having come through the security-coded street gate, settled my bike, pushed back the old iron gate to the garden itself, I always feel a surge of pleasure as I begin the walk down the path through the garden. It is a time to pause and take in the mood and murmur a quiet greeting.

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Best Dad


It is spring in the garden at the David Parr House and the plants are unwrapping their blooms and scents in the lovely weather.  They don’t know that there are no visitors to see this rapture and I have not told them.

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The David Parr house is closed and without visitors from December to February so this is the time for the volunteer gardener to put the garden to bed for the winter and prepare for the next season.

I began by stripping out the spent annuals, dead plants and weeds; then I cut down and marked with sticks the location of plants that had completely died back. Even after this autumn clearance, the garden was not bare because the cyclamen leaves with their white heart-shaped marbling, the bright ferns, the honeysuckle on the fence, all flourished in green, and the broad mats of fleabane were still starred with daisy-like flowers all along the path.

Carry on reading … (opens in PDF)


I am a volunteer at the David Parr House where I put myself forward to help maintain the back garden through the first year of the project.

It was easy at first – I inherited a beautiful planting plan and roses, lilies, geraniums, lavender and many more plants carefully labeled, interred and spaced.  It was clear what to keep and what to eject so I set to, weeding out the ground elder and alkanet, both of which aspire to world domination but …

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