About Humbie Dean

I took possession of Humbie Dean in mid-September 2008. The shape of the garden is best described as a wedge of ripe French cheese whose axis runs south-east to north-west – a triangular top with sides sloping down to two small rivers (‘burns’ in Scotland) which meet at the apex. P1060054The slopes are wooded, a mixture of ash, alder, wild cherry, rowan, hawthorn and hazel, interspersed with brambles and nettles, and can be accessed only by scrambling. The third side is formed by a country lane, with a bridge where the road floods continually (thanks to lack of maintenance by ELC) at each end. The surrounding land is arable farm, with the Lammermuir hills to the south east. I think I am in climate zone 4 or 5.

The total area of the garden is just over two acres – and all but the steep northern bank is workable. The soil is rich loam, acidic, but with layers of smooth stone about one foot below the surface. There are tree roots almost everywhere. The top of the cheese wedge boasts fine specimen rhododendrons and hamamellis; one half of what was formerly a double herbaceous border; lawned areas colonised by moles; a pond so small as to be unviable; an overgrown orchard; what is fondly referred to as ‘the wild flower meadow’; a vegetable plot with ‘paths’ of broken roof tiles; and a windbreak of thirty foot tall Leylandii which now completely blocks the sun for much of the day, rendering the area between it and the house on the northern side a moss-infested dank green zone (most of the gutter joints lack bolts and leak, increasing the dampness further) and that on the southern side a jungle. On a nice day you might think you were in the NZ bush, on a bad one…