and My Garden
Toyah Willcox's career has included 80s chart
hits, film, TV and stage roles, as well as numerous writing projects. She
lives with her husband, musician Robert Fripp, in Worcestershire.
I was born in Birmingham but my father always
had a boat on the river Avon so I spent every weekend in this area when
I was young. Robert and I bought this house three years ago and it's the
best place I've ever lived. The whole garden was designed by one of the
TV gardeners but we can't find his name - he did it as a favour to the
last owner. It's so well done that we haven't needed to put in a single
plant and it looks great all year round.
The garden's probably about half an acre and is
divided into five rooms, with the final room leading down to the river.
The rooms were here when we arrived but we've added focus by putting in
seats. They're more for my husband's benefit - he's a great one for
sitting. I'm more of an on-the-move type of person. One room is particularly
private - you can't be seen from the river or the house - so it's where
we sunbathe. It's even glorious at night because the stars are so bright.
Because the land floods, the soil is particularly
rich so we get good growth. I like the fact that we have a mulberry tree
because it symbolises luck. They're also quite hard to grow so having one
signifies a healthy garden, plus it produces the most amazing fruit. And
I love irises - we have a lot of those.We live very alfresco - the garden
is east facing so we have lots of sun all day. It has a very Tuscan feel
and friends love coming here. An amazing amount of people say they feel
as though they've been here before, which I think is a lovely sign. It's
a very sensual place.
We have a cherry orchard and we're very worried
because there's a nasty disease going round which wipes out trees in a
matter of weeks. One died just last week, but if we get it out quickly
enough we should be able to save the rest. The trees have been here for
a good 40 years so it's sad to see one of them die. We had all the
problems with Dutch elm disease and in the 20 years that I've been into
gardening, we've been dealing with these strange variants attacking other
tree types. We did have 14 fish in our fish pond but a heron ate them all
in one afternoon! I love koi and have a fantasy about having a koi pond
but we have a lot of predators here - including foxes - so I don't think
they'd survive very long.
We have quite a few sculptures in the garden,
all done by an artist we've worked with for about 20 years. It's remarkably
inexpensive for such unique work and suits our taste. I don't like regular
Robert tends to tour in the summer so I get the
place to myself. We try and spend weekends together here but it's a bit
hit and miss because I often do concerts at weekends. I have two books
coming out next year, as well as a one-woman show which I'm writing about
my own life, so there's a lot in the pipeline.
Almost everything I remember from my youth I remember
around here rather than in Birmingham. This is where it all happened, so
I feel completely rooted. And there's no better place to relax than in
this garden - it's the ultimate chill-out.
Outdoors magazine, 2004