Dear friends,

Back in January, you very kindly and generously sent me off with a wonderful cheque as a presentation. As I said at the time, I’m hugely grateful for this great kindness which meant so much to me. I thought you might like to know what Tim and I have been doing with a large proportion of your kind gift!

The garden at Ivy House, Presteigne isn’t huge but has interesting possibilities! When we took over the property, we found 12 huge leylandii trees at the bottom of the garden – these had to go, as not only did they block out the light, but they encroached ten feet into the garden!  Planning permission for the removal had to be obtained, as the house and garden are in a Conservation Area.  And removing them not only let in the light (the neighbours were glad too!) but also opened up a lovely view of St Andrew’s Church, Presteigne, with Stapleton Hill (in England, of course!) beyond and a glimpse of Stapleton Castle, one of the line of defensive forts (Wigmore, Ludow, etc) all along the Marches. With the ten feet now reclaimed, we thought of a raised bed for a herbaceous border covering the leylandii roots), and the photo shows what we’ve achieved so far.

Thanks to your gift, we were able to invite Simon Hudson to build a dry stone wall which he did with such skill.  He used local stone from a quarry at Gladestry, near Kington. It was wonderful to see Simon, translating a huge pile of stones into the intricate wall! Trained in dry-stone walling, Simon was able to see immediately what would work where, and the result is amazing! With the help of Guy Milton, the raised bed (36 feet long and 8 feet at widest) was filled with good top soil from Bromfield. Now we are populating the raised bed! At the back are four rambling roses – all gifts from kind friends, with honeysuckle and clematis. In the middle of the border, we’re gradually planting perennials – peony, lupin, etc. On the right, you’ll see a lovely acer, which was on the patio in the Deanery for many years – getting pot bound, it loves its new surroundings! At the front, still to come, we’ll plant lavender (Hidcote) and box, and right at the front we’ve planted an array of different alpines, which we hope will cascade over the dry stone wall.  You’ll recognise urns brought from the Deanery garden and one is filled with annuals, to provide colour. So there it is – a work in progress – and thank you again, for all your kindness and generosity, which is giving Tim and me such pleasure in creating our garden.

I think of you all often and of the lovely times we shared at Hereford and continue to thank God for all your friendship and kindness to me throughout my time as Dean. I shall remember you especially as you await the announcement of your new Dean and am confident that that wonderful things await you all, as together you continue God’s work in our lovely cathedral.  

God bless you all.