Jilly Coopers Garden
is where celebrities tell us about their gardens, about
their favourite, and sometimes their least favourite,
plants. This month Greenfingers’ George Plumptre
caught up with novelist Jilly Cooper, on her breathless
publicity tour for the paperback edition of her latest
blockbuster Score, who took a few minutes to
talk about her garden in Gloucestershire.
George: How long have you had your present garden?
Jilly: Eighteen and a half years.
G: Do you think it is too small, too big or just right?
J: Too small - when I find heavenly plants and want
to put them in - but too big in May, June and July when
the weeds start absolutely galloping and we cannot control
G: Did the garden influence your decision to buy your
J: Yes it did. We first saw the house in July when the
garden was glorious. There was a herb garden outside
the kitchen window and the owner of the house just jumped
through it to pick some camomile for her tea.
G: What was the first thing you wanted to change in
J: Cut down three inky-dinky little conifers
along the ha-ha
beyond the terrace and extend the field between the
lawn and tennis court into a wild garden, planting trees
and wild flowers.
G: What is the one thing you have done that you are
most proud of?
J: I absolutely adore our animal graveyard beyond the
tennis court. It is full of riot and rather vulgar coloured
polyanthus, hyacinths and daffodils. But we have buried
all the dogs that have died, the cats, a fox cub because
it drowned in the pond, and Emily’s hamster born
and died in 1979 like most poor hamsters. They all have
lovely headstones with inscriptions and I go and talk
to them at night.
G: What is the one
thing in the garden that you absolutely hate?
J: I always go berserk about forsythia because ours
has the disgusting habit of coming out at the same time
as the bright pink double cherry, which the previous
owner had planted next door to it. But this year it
has come out ahead of the double cherry and looks rather
cheery - like a lovely golden plume.
G: What is your favourite plant in the garden?
J: An impossible question. I went to Highgrove about
four years ago and saw the pale blue drifts of love-in-the
mist and have planted love-in-the-mist ever since. I
think it is the most wonderful addition to a garden
but it does tend to get slightly overexcited and choke
other plants if not watched.
I love the beautiful cream roses created by Bill le
Grice that were named 'Jilly Cooper' - after me. They
are absolutely charming [Ed: what do you expect]. I
love a very pale mauve Buddleia, because it gets covered
in butterflies and I simply adore Lily-of-the–Valley
because they are so discreetly charming and smell so
beautiful. And I love towering blue delphiniums. We
bought a lot off Blackmore & Langdon in Devon and
they are wonderful.
G: Do you use your garden mainly for gardening, exercise,
family life or socialising?
J: All of them really. I use the garden for gardening,
family life and socialising. The tennis court has grown
very whiskery and weed choked but I am going to try
and restore that somehow and start taking a bit more
exercise. In the summer I always write in the garden
and I have my table at the end of the big lawn.
G: What is your favourite pastime in the garden?
J: Wandering around in the morning seeing what has come
up, smelling the dew drying on the lavender and letting
my hand trail over the various sculptures we’ve
placed in the garden of which I am very proud.
G: If you could have any garden in the world which one
would it be?
J: It’s a very feeble answer, but it would be
our own because I love it so much.
reprinted with premission from Greenfingers.com