This Month We Take a Peek Over The Fence at Sue Stoves Clark’s Pretty Outdoor Living Space in West Sussex
I share my garden with… my husband Tony and our Cretan rescue cat Metaxa. I moved into Tony’s 1960s semi in 2017. The garden was neglected and overgrown, but there were two fruit trees, a pear and an apple, which were laden with fruit, so we kept them when we revamped the garden last year.
My garden is… rectangular and faces north west, so different areas get the sun at different times of the day. There was a huge conifer taking up lots of space at the end of the plot, but we cut it down when we redesigned the garden. We did all the work ourselves although, because we both work full-time, it took us a year to get it finished.
Tony dismantled and rebuilt the summerhouse, which was a fabulous bargain buy from Gumtree. He also built the large raised decked area, the pergola above it and the dining area at the top of the garden. We re-turfed the lawn area because it looked scruffy. I ordered the turf online and it was delivered the next day. It’s great quality and looks like it has always been there. We had new boundary fencing put up, which I painted grey, so it fades into the background. I picked out the dining area by painting it pale green, so it stands out. The area between the summerhouse and the utility room was turned into a herb and vegetable garden by adding a plant stand, terracotta pots and hanging baskets.
My inspiration is… the Black Dog nursery in North Mundham, Chichester. I bought all my herbs there and two very unusual plants: Balm of Gilead and the most amazing allium that grows clusters of tiny onions at the top of the stems, which I cut off and use in my salads. Best garden moment I’ve been a retail manager for Cancer Research UK for 19 years and last July we held a fundraising garden party with Pimm’s, Prosecco and afternoon tea. I made sandwiches, cakes and biscuits, invited a few close friends and asked for donations. I crystallised rose petals for some of the cakes and decorated the biggest with my home-grown Alpine strawberries. Tony and I met at a Stand Up to Cancer event I held in 2014 and we’ve held events like this together ever since, raising £11,833 so far.
Favourite area The summerhouse, which reminds me of my childhood in Scotland, when we had a lovely one in the garden. Tony has put in electricity so it can be used all year and on darker nights. We also have a fridge in there, which is great for food for the barbecue and drinks during the summer. I painted the inside white and we laid pine laminate on the floor. The outside is the same shade of grey as the fence. I also love the decked area, where we can relax with a drink, and the dining area where we sometimes have breakfast.
Current obsession Keeping the garden tidy as the spring bulbs emerge and everything bursts into bloom. Best buy It’s more of a best make, actually. Our ice bucket was a project from Modern Gardens magazine. I made it from a large flowerpot on which I drew ‘mosaics’ and then painted them in with acrylics. I love it because it holds lots of bottles! Favourite plant We seem to be able to grow anything here. I love roses, peonies and jasmine. We were given a lovely old climbing rose called ‘Albertine’, which grows up the fence close to the decking, and a ‘Rambling Rector’ for a wedding gift when we got married in Crete in September 2017. This is when we found our cat Metaxa and I’ve now started a charity the Metaxa Maris Foundation – to help the other cats at the resort.
Latest project It’s another big one: the front garden. We have parking for three cars here but we need new boundary fencing, to renovate the large fishpond and landscape the whole thing with totally new planting. The only plant we will keep is the beautiful deep red climbing rose that grows up the front of the house.
My top tip Plant whatever makes you happy and gives you pleasure! What my garden means to me We like to spend time with our family and friends, so that’s what we had in mind when redesigning the garden, with space for seating where we could relax and eat. We only completed it last July and there’s still lots to do but I think we’ve created a great space. Last summer we had lovely barbecues with family and friends almost every weekend. Tony and I spend most summer evenings in the garden when it’s fine, enjoying dinner out there and just looking at what we’ve achieved. We’re so happy with it.