Find the joy and fill your life with it

Roger Lloyd and his wife Jenny have been opening gardens for the National Garden Scheme for the last ten years, first in Cheshire and more recently at their award-winning garden at Highfield Farm in Monmouthshire. When Roger told us that his retirement motto was ‘find the joy and fill your life with it’ we were intrigued to discover what role the garden played in realising that aspiration. Building and sharing a garden, he told us, is a primary source of joy. We asked him why…

What does your garden mean to you?

My retirement ethos is “Find the joy and fill your life with it”. We have earned the right to indulge ourselves in retirement and my indulgences are gardening and gluttony. The former is driven by the beauty, diversity and seasonality of the plant world, which stimulates the desire to create a garden and share it with other like-minded folks. My second favourite place, after gardens, is sharing a table with family and friends and enjoying exciting food cooked by talented chefs in beautiful settings. These are sources of endless joy and pleasure and now is the time to enjoy them. I even organise my own gastro-garden tours around the world with friends to pursue and fulfil these obsessions.

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

Its creation. Gardening is a restless pursuit and an endless source of stimulation. It’s a constantly changing environment which can always be developed, improved or changed as it grows. There are always areas to be resolved, weeds to control, mistakes to correct and new plants to integrate. It’s always a pleasure, never a burden and so life enhancing. Your chance to design and define your own personal space in the world.


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

This is an impossible choice to make. Every day will provide a new favourite. However, I do have a gentle obsession with hydrangeas. This has slowly crept up on me and we now have 12 species and 50 or so cultivars in the garden. They provide variety, colour and drama throughout the summer and deep into autumn and will grow, without complaint, in shade and sun. One hydrangea in particular does stop visitors in their tracks – a seven feet high Hydrangea aspera called ‘Hot Chocolate’, with its bubble gum pink flowers, electric blue stamens, offset by its dark leaves with wine red reverses. A real bobbydazzler.

Do you find joy in sharing your garden with visitors?

Absolutely. We fully engage with our visitors. Jenny welcomes them all, finds out a little about them, provides a personal background of the farm and garden and directs them on their way. I accompany them with a guided tour, with an explanation of the planting and plant sourcing and answering their questions. The garden provides the heart of a strong community of people with a shared passion and with notebooks ready and sharpened pencils. Whilst fundraising is our goal, sharing the joy of the garden is the dividend.

Where do you find the most joy in your garden?

The morning walk. Every day brings something new and exciting and is a constant reminder of the joy and fulfilment that the garden brings.

What is the most joyful thing about being a gardener?

The endless journey of discovery, the incredible diversity of plants, plant combinations and garden design possibilities. An appetite which refuses to be satisfied.

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

Whilst our garden is very much our personal place and source of inspiration and pleasure, it has become the core element of our drive to raise funds for Macmillan and other caring charities. The National Garden Scheme is a perfect partner in helping us achieve and deliver this. The garden itself is not only a source of endless joy and pleasure for us, but also the sense of community and reward in sharing it with others adds that extra dimension.

Highfield Farm opens on Sunday 16 June, 14 July, 11 August and 8 September and by arrangement May to September in 2024.
For more details CLICK HERE


This story originally appeared in the 2024 Little Yellow Book of Gardens and Health, marking Gardens & Health Week, which you can view here

All images copyright Carole Drake


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