MORE THAN JUST A GARDEN
Gardens :: Ecology :: Creativity
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The gardens at Merryweathers are the creation and lifetime’s devotion of just two people – husband and wife partnership Ian and Liz O’Halloran. We started the gardens from scratch in the winter of 1995/96, and as you meander around them today it is hard to imagine that there was nothing here just a few years ago. We came here with no horticultural training, very little money and our only qualifications were a love of gardening and wildlife.
When we first moved to Merryweather's Farm in the Autumn of 1994 we were looking for somewhere with more space to grow food, create gardens and set up a small nursery selling herbs. Somewhere to escape the claustrophobia of living in a town and get back in touch with the elements. To live a life dictated by the seasons and not the neighbours!
Ian had already left his career as a Civil Engineer to study Art and had also begun a distance learning course in horticulture. I, too, was becoming increasingly frustrated with my career in Special Education. We were both more than ready for a change.
Merryweather's Farm came with nearly 6 acres of neglected pasture, large piles of scrap metal and a half-acre wood we didn't realise we had until two weeks after we moved in. A far cry from the small end-of-terrace garden we had left behind. Over the years we have done all the things we came here to do and a few more besides. With the evolution of the gardens our lives have also evolved so that some of the things which were important to us in the early days have made way for other things more relevant to who we are today.
When we arrived here it was just the two of us and our two cats (and my parents, but that's another story). As the gardens have grown so has our family. In recent years we have acquired two children, two more cats and six chickens. Our emphasis remains on sustainability and creativity, but the way we fulfil these goals is shifting, so that, after years of allowing our every waking hour - and some of our sleeping ones too - to be consumed by the gardens we are gradually reintroducing other aspects of our lives and Ian has now resumed his career as an artist and printmaker.
Merryweathers is a place of three overlapping funtions - food, ecology and aesthetic design. The marriage of these three produces something unique and different from any one of these functions alone. It has been more than 20 years in the making and will, we hope, be considerably longer than that in the living.