CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Devon Life today CLICK HERE

Natural healing: Hole’s Meadow

PUBLISHED: 11:33 17 July 2017

Fi Reddaway and her garden at Hole's Meadow

Fi Reddaway and her garden at Hole's Meadow

Matt Austin

Catherine Courtenay discovers peace and calm in Fi Reddaway’s garden on the edge of Dartmoor

The directions to Hole’s Meadow take me along a narrow path that twists and turns between a network of little back gardens. It’s a bit of an adventure in a Secret Garden kind of way; but eventually I reach a hedge and five bar gate and as I go through, garden owner Fi Reddaway emerges from her ‘office’ to greet me.

Hole’s Meadow covers almost two acres, formed from two medieval burgage plots behind the houses in the centre of the village of South Zeal. From the garden shed office and across the formal beds, the site slopes down through an orchard to a rocky stream, beyond which is a newly planted woodland area. In the distance, over a stone wall and hedge boundary the land rises towards the impressive Cawsand Beacon, a reminder of this garden’s close proximity to Dartmoor.

Fi has created a herb garden with around 250 varieties, including two Plant Heritage National Collections of Monarda (bergamot, bee balm) and Nepeta (catmint). The herbs are interspersed with flowers, a mixture of ornamental and native trees, shrubs and a vegetable garden.

Her route into gardening began with her first patch of land at her first home and she developed an interest in herbs early on. Rather than following the norm in gardening style, and having read Chris Baines’ landmark 1985 book How To Make a Wildlife Garden, she was an early advocate of removing lawns and would plant herbs instead, being fascinated with both their beauty and the ways they have been used over the centuries.

“These are plants which have beauty, scent and can be good for us and our homes; and they were all there to discover, with their colloquial names. Take lungwort - however did people know it was good for chests?!” she marvels.

She’d studied home economics at university and eventually came to Devon where she worked for South West Food and Drink. She moved to South Zeal, having fallen in love with the Hole’s Meadow site, which at the time was mostly a field.

Then she fell ill with ME, or chronic fatigue syndrome, which causes persistent fatigue and exhaustion. Unable to work she found peace and respite in her beloved garden.

She set about absorbing the history and traditions associated with herbs and she gradually built up collections of Nepeta and Monarda, which became listed as National Collections. In the end though, it was the “growing and sharing” that really inspired her, along with an ever-increasing concern for wildlife and the natural environment.

Fi Reddaway and her garden at Hole's MeadowFi Reddaway and her garden at Hole's Meadow

With the help of husband Paul, Fi has made changes to the garden this year, to increase its wildlife-friendliness. Her Nepeta and Monarda collections are precious, but she’s aware that row upon row of the same genus can look a little bland, so having safely set aside her key collection in pots, she’s showing how they can be interspersed with other plants, creating more interest and variety. A bed of Nepeta for example is flecked with the striking forms of alliums, which provide height, colour contrast and importantly, won’t spread. Beds are lined with further herbs, like garlic chives, hedge germander and pennyroyal, even Nepeta is used as an edging plant.

She’s created a prairie-style garden for the Monardas: “They are so attractive en masse, just so beautiful.” The area is set out with drifts of fennel, Verbascum, Rudbeckia, Dierama and Miscanthus.

Fi says she never set out with an aim; her gardening style has gently evolved over the years and Hole’s Meadow is the latest incarnation, but it seems she’s always held a core belief.

“I want to create a place of beauty a place of contemplation, meditation and calm and one which supports wildlife.”

Some days Fi can’t go into her garden, her exhaustion confining her to bed. She has to constantly rest and has various places around the garden where she can sleep.

“However do you manage to keep the garden going?” I ask.

Paul is on hand with all the heavy manual work, she tells me, and then there’s “the lesson of the old boys,” she knowingly smiles.

“Which is?”

“Hoeing. It’s the key, it really is. Don’t let it come up, keep hoeing.”

I can’t help but think how distressing it would be to be so tired you can’t lift a finger, particularly when the garden is crying out for attention; but Fi is remarkably calm and gracious about her situation and she’s a firm believer in the health benefits, both physical and emotional, of being in a garden.

“Being in nature is therapeutic and beneficial. It’s enabled me to build a future, a calmer and happier future,” she says.

“It’s a sense of nature and the calm it gives you. If everyone knew about this, the world would be a much better place, don’t you think?”

Hole’s Meadow is open on 22, 23 and 30 July (11-5pm) as part of the National Open Garden Scheme. Also on 18 June for the South Zeal and District Open Garden Day.

herbsindartmoor.com

Fi Reddaway and her garden at Hole's MeadowFi Reddaway and her garden at Hole's Meadow

Fi’s favourite plant families

‘All of these are hugely beneficial to wildlife, but another great thing in common is that there are absolutely loads of cultivars of each to choose from’

Allium: for their architectural elegance and their ability to complement herbaceous planting schemes.

Dahlia: they are so joyous, floriferous and offer extended late season colour.

Hardy geraniums: for their ease of cultivation and all round usefulness.

Achillea: there are colours to go with all planting designs and they are really easy

to grow.

Echinacea (coneflower): although not always easy to grow and not damp tolerant, the effort is outweighed by the sheer beauty of the flower’s form.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Devon Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Devon Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Devon Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Homes & Gardens

Tue, 11:25

NATALIE MILLAR-PARTRIDGE relaxes at a family-run Dartmoor retreat where the emphasis is on the glorious environment it sits in

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Ex-Chelsea footballer Colin Lee came home to Devon and built an incredible multi-million pound waterside house. CHRISSY HARRIS takes a look around

Read more
Wednesday, September 26, 2018

As we head into Autumn, the change in season is all around us. From the leaves on the trees turning burnt orange and fiery red, to dark mornings and nights bookending our days. As we put the clocks back an hour to battle the darkness, here’s some top tips on how you can keep your home warm and costs down this Autumn.

Read more
Monday, September 17, 2018

Green, renewable sources of energy are becoming more and more popular for domestic use. We talk to Jay-Dee Williams at Energie about thermodynamic solar panels: the fuel efficient, cost-effective way to heat the water in your home

Read more
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Fig Tree Court is a development of 14 apartments in Tiverton for retired and semi- retired over-55s with gorgeous views over the Grand Western Canal

Read more
Friday, August 31, 2018

Rural energy provider, Calor, gives some top tips for homeowners wanting to make their houses cosy and warm in time for the colder months.

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Converting a crumbling barn into a luxury bolthole takes some doing. Chrissy Harris went to see the results of an ambitious family project | Photos: Rob Coombe

Read more
Friday, August 3, 2018

From a hot tub Land Rover to a Romany caravan, Claire Saul picks out 7 Devon holiday lets that make hot topics for conversation

Read more
Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Two former city dwellers have found peace, quiet and a stunning home in an East Devon village. CHRISSY HARRIS went to visit The Old Rectory in Plymtree

Read more
Monday, July 9, 2018

The redevelopment of some rural Devon barns has unearthed a very unique link with our greatest statesman

Read more
Sunday, July 1, 2018

Residential property company heylo recently signed the Armed Forces Covenant, pledging its commitment to fair treatment and support to the Armed Forces community, including regulars, reserves, veterans and their families. The signing took place in a ceremony held at Wellington Barracks

Read more
Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A creative couple with a passion for nature took on a derelict farmhouse in North Devon and used it to inspire their life’s work. CHRISSY HARRIS went to find out more | Photos: Matt Austin

Read more
Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The luxury tree top escape is nestled in the grounds of The Fox & Hounds Country Hotel in the North Devon countryside

Read more
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Devon’s iconic Burgh Island, famed for its art deco hotel and links to Agatha Christie, is being sold by owners Deborah Clark and Tony Orchard after almost 17 years.

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search