The Evolution of The Sitting Spiritually Garden by Martin Young

Early History

Celia and I moved into our new home Bramble Hayes on 1st May 1998 and behind the house was a paddock of about a third of an acre.

We made an agreement, Celia has a free hand on the house finishings, Martin gets the garden!

So I instruced the builder of the house to just leave the paddock area as is and I’d get it landscaped and create a garden from scratch, something I’d always wanted to do.

Enter family friend Dave Brooks . His eldest son Ed had just graduated as a landscape architect. So, he prepared a design with consideration to the fairly steep south west facing slope and utilising the borrowed view.  All was approved.

Shortly after Dave duly arrived with a fairly ancient land rover towing a digger and various bits and tools etc looking a bit like something in Mad Max beyond the Thunderdome . For what seemed an eternity he chugged around pipe in mouth.  Gradually terraces, wide borders and even water features took shape.

"What do I owe you Dave?"   "Ooh no idea… give me what you think" …..Both parties were satisfied. 

May 1998

Ed had put together a plant list and to try to understand better I attended evening classes on garden design … all I remember is…

Learn Latin names and Form-Texture-Colour, so think in that order.  

One of the show pieces of that early development was the lawn,  and the turf selected consisted of fescue & bent fine golf turf and that still endures today.

For the next five years the garden evolved with a strong emphasis on herbaceous perennials which we allowed to overwinter, set seed and fill a lot of gaps. We only cutback in early spring. The results were huge swathes of naturalistic planting

I wanted to introduce neat, clipped hedges and topiary to contrast, so planted a lot of Lonicera Nitida which strikes easily from hardwood cuttings. It’s easy to cut back and doesn’t suffer blight but…has to be clipped quite frequently.

And so the cycle continued with a lot of compost in three bins from the shredded spring cut back, the previous year being spread back as a mulch.

2003 Enter the National Garden Scheme (Yellow Book)

We had a visit from the regional organiser for Devon who wanted to see the garden.

“It’s a lovely garden but we need to keep our visitors interested for 45 minutes. Have you ever thought of getting some seating to slow people down".

Well I’d always admired the concept of garden swing seats. American films with people sitting, swinging and chatting. So I thought I’ll go and buy one. Once I started looking here in the UK I was frankly disappointed by the shape, quality and appearance. So I sent for a blueprint, as they call, it from the USA.

 I returned to my roots as an indentured Carpenter and Joiner and applied some Fengshui principles to the design and built seat No 1 and set it in the garden where it still stays today.

Seat No 1 made in 2004 and the start of it all
Seat No 1 made in 2004 and the start of it all

The NGS gave us the go ahead and we were also featured in a BBC 2 programme with Carol Klein, so on the 25th June the garden filled with people.

Two things happened that day,  the NGS funds were boosted by several £100’s and several visitors wanted to know …

‘Where did you get that swing seat from?’

Sitting Spiritually was born

Carol Klein & Martin on the first day the garden opened
Carol Klein & Martin on the first day the garden opened

Where did the name come from?

I became interested in Meditation and used to sit on seat No1 early in the morning, trying to sit there and think of nothing, which is harder than you think!

I opened my eyes and standing nearby was a friend who had quietly entered the garden. “Are you sittings spiritually”? he asked

Shortly after he’d left I bought the domain name.

So the brand continued to be built and in 2008 we went to Chelsea Flower Show for the first time. Also the realisation that the garden was very pivotal to its success and the need to achieve a wow reaction from a potential customer as they enter.

The RHS had now licensed us and we could now claim.....

The only swing seat and bench maker licensed by the RHS
The only swing seat and bench maker licensed by the RHS

2015 until today

I started to realise that  the garden was looking stale and a little outdated and a chance encounter at Chelsea was to change this.

Enter.....

http://jarmanmurphy.co.uk/

Sarah and Anna approached us for help with props for a show garden at RHS Tatton which resulted in…

A Quiet Corner, Back to Back garden RHS Tatton Park Flower Show, 2015
Gold medal and best in category

I wanted them to come and talk about our garden which they duly did.

Brief one was to connect the house to the garden better, this was achieved by building a bridge, enlarging the decking and providing a modified raised bed.

This web page illustrates perfectly the result …very pleasing so everything above and to the right of the lawn changed and the video is a good way to look at the garden in the summer.

2017 Chelsea Meltdown

The Swinging Day Bed fitted nicely onto the new bigger deck and was causing interest, so we decided to take it to Chelsea Flower show and ask Jarman Murphy to plant up the stand No 295 which won us a 4 star RHS award.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017
RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017

This was our 10th (and what was to be our last) “Chelsea”.

Such was the popularity of the stand and in particular the Day Bed we came away with so many orders that the next 4 months would prove to be a period of not enjoying what we do. Celia and I agreed it would be our last show and that we would concentrate on the website and the garden.

2018 till the present day,  The Show Garden

We commissioned Anna and Sarah to bring the rest of the garden up to show standard in January 2019. This involved completely stripping the whole bottom garden and redefining the paths.

In 2018 and 2019 we held a series of Open Weekends and although paused for 2020 we hope one day to get back to that. For now we continue to welcome appointed visitors.

I’ll leave the final words to Anna & Sarah

Posted by Siobhan on October 26th 2020


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