An enchantment of joy at Avalon …

Violet Croll has opened Avalon in Kent, for the National Garden Scheme since 2019. Her effervescent enthusiasm for her garden caught our attention during lock-down when she filmed a virtual visit to her garden and she became a natural choice to share with Gardeners’ World. The BBC TV show was quick to pick up the passionate plantswoman and she delighted audiences when she was featured. We caught up with Violet to find out about the joy she derives from her garden … and her visitors.

What part of your garden / gardening gives you the most joy?

The damp garden is a source of happiness throughout the year, because it looks and feels lovely all the time. Next comes the woodland in early spring, then in the summer the patio area with its dahlias, hydrangeas and lilies. Then there is the sunken garden where all the fuchsias, acers, eucomis, cannas, lemon tree, tree dahlias and bananas are looking their best. I can almost hear them saying look at me, don’t I look fabulous, all that love and care paid off.

The thing that gives me the most joy has to be the buying of plants and seeds for the garden which I enjoy so much, and when I say that I won’t buy anymore I don’t seem to be able to stop myself from doing so! Even my family take it with a pinch of salt. Then comes the feeding, caring, admiring and harvesting.

Which plants in your garden give you / your visitors the most joy?

It all depends on the time of year – there are just so many!

Roses, acers, tree ferns and other ferns, dahlias, hostas, lilac, phygelium, hydrangeas, banana trees, daffodils, spotty dotty, epimedium, hemerocallis, Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Fascination’, cercis, Polygonatum x hybridum, loquat plant, trachystemon and fig trees (I love eating figs, but so do the black birds). Many visitors say they will revisit the garden when the plants they like are in bloom ie August for dahlias and spring for the woodland.

Do you find joy in sharing your garden with visitors – if so, why?

I find joy in sharing the garden with visitors because sometimes I’m able to share ideas with them, or after visiting the garden sometimes they email photos of the flowers in their garden, or post seeds to me for the garden. Other times they just want some inspiration for their own garden, for example plants that are happy growing on a slope or in a woodland setting, and perhaps they are thinking of opening their own garden.

Where do you find the most joy in your garden?

Everywhere. All the time! But I find the most joy in the garden starting with late winter, early spring when the plants start to raise from their slumber and everything looks nice and fresh, it brings joy to my soul. I’m pleased also that they survived the winter months. Early to late spring when the daffodils, alliums, tulips, camellias, Helleborous foetidus, polygonatum, rhododendrons and viburnum, acer, dicentra, paeonia look nice and fresh – with the garden several shades of green. Then summer time the ajuga, lilies, hosta, dahlias, darmeria, rodgersia, hemerocallis, kirengeshoma, phlomis, roses, fuchsia, myrtus, eupatorium, physostegia, campsis, crocosmia, phygelius, tree dahlias to name a few. Last but not least, admiring the views over to the Thames estuary from the woodland garden.


What’s the most joyful thing about being a gardener?

To be able to look through the windows and see all the beautiful smiley faces of plants. Plus planning and designing the garden. For me it also has to be the buying of plants, I don’t ever seem to be able to stop myself. If a plant does not survive in the garden I check what plants would. I know for sure that you sometimes have to be tough to survive the competition from the other plants
and challenging planting conditions. I like thinking about where things look best. It’s also about the feeling of happiness that the plants bring to you.

What’s the most joyful thing about opening your garden for the National Garden Scheme?

It is to allow the visitors to see another style of gardening and raising money for so many charities. I really do like sharing the garden with others with the joy it brings and being part of a group of other plant loving people.

Violet’s top tip for planting plans

The planning and design that makes me feel happy and at peace, which I call planting by feeling, means that if a plant does not feel right where first planted, it’s moved to somewhere it makes me more calm and feels good. After I have bought a new plant I put it in its pot where there is a space and if it does not feel right there after a few days I put it where it makes me feel at peace – it’s better than having to dig it up.

Sharing her garden brings Violet Croll immense pleasure. You can visit her at Avalon, Kent on dates in May, June, July and August and by arrangement. For details CLICK HERE

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