Sofias Country Gardens
The Garden at Viskans
The most wonderful thing about having a garden blog and Instagram account is the people I connect with through it. In the long winter evenings I have ended up chatting to gardeners from all over the world, including countries ranging from New Zealand to Sweden, Canada to Thailand. I find the gardening world to be a friendly community of like minded people, with very few spooky haters commenting on our input. Only once did I receive negative feedback - but that was probably my fault for having used the hashtag vegan when writing about a recipe. The very angry critique was that my blog is not at all vegan enough, and while I tried to kindly explain I write about plants, gardening, chickens and country life mostly, with only a few recipes here and there, the antagonist would have non of it. The exact opposite of this exchange was the enormous friendliness with which I was met when I asked to come and visit Veronica and her gorgeous garden at Viskans.
I had been following Veronicas Instagram account for quite a long time, and as I happened to be in the area last autumn I contacted her to see if I could visit. Very kindly she agreed, and on a blustery August afternoon we spent a delightful few hours walking around the gardens talking about our shared obsession. Veronicas garden is quite enormous, with 2 hectares of land surrounding the house set deep in the countryside. In the beginning the plan was to renovate the house and make the garden a low maintenance garden with shrubs such as rhododendrons and hydrangeas, but soon enough the gardening bug bit... First came the greenhouse which became the epicenter of Veronicas gardens, and then came the flowers. "I'm inspired by the new perennials movement" she says, "and as the garden is so big I combine perennials with annuals grown from seed. Dahlias are a great passion and each year I find new varieties on line."
The gardens lie on a slope that gently leads down towards the river Viskans, a rapid stream of water surrounded by trees. Midway is a large flat area where the greenhouse lies surrounded by the lushest flowerbeds. As we walk around the gardens Veronica laments the unusually hot and humid summer that was. "This one should be half as high," she says pointing to one flower, "and that one should be twice as big!" pointing to another. To my mind they are all perfect, and especially so as the colour hues and combinations are like a jewellery box! "I do fall in love with different colours and coulour combinations every year." Veronica says. "I have an idea what I would like it to look like, and then I re-do all of last years work to make it work in a new way this year. It is very labour intense, but the end result brings me so much joy!"
Most years Veronica starts off the annual seedling in February in her basement, where there is a room with shelves and lights for just this purpose. In March as they have grown big enough she gingerly moves them out into the greenhouse, and then there is of course an endless amount of watering to be done. The advantage of all this work is seen in the early flowering of the borders, and finding annuals that she has never tried before. "I love looking for seeds in winter!" she says, adding that an addiction to Dahlia bulbs has hit her in recent years, which resulted in a whole new border for them. We laugh at this. As any gardener knows there is never a day when we have enough plants in our gardens!
Looking upwards from the gardens a dark painted pergola leads the eyes back towards the house. The pergola is underplanted with beautiful white hortensias, and the contrast of dark and light is utterly peaceful. Up here by the house the garden changes character; to the back of the house lies a woodland with a small pond and to the front of the house lies a gravel driveway lined with borders and perennials. "In spring this area really comes alive! I buy almost all of my plants online, and here I have planted an enormous amount of daffodils and tulips as well as other spring bulbs. I've redone this border twice, but now I hope it has the form I want. It all changed as we had to take down a tree." she explains. I can hardly wait for spring to start in earnest so I can see the result in her pictures!