Jenny Harford: ‘My garden style is a bit off the wall.’ Photograph: Sophia Evans for the Guardian
I was meant to have this place. I lived in a bedsit up the road and was hairdressing for someone else at the time. It wasn’t even on the market, but I saw the shop and fell in love with it. That was 30 years ago and the weeds out the back were as tall as me.
Dad was a tug master, and when he took redundancy from the river he wanted to buy me a little business. We went from there. I was busy with the salon and Mum did the garden to start with. She liked everything regimented and kept it very tidy. I don’t do straight lines. In fact I hate straight lines, so after Mum and Dad died I was keen to get my hands on it.
I got rid of the lawn, and put decking down and made lots of space for plants. It is important that people feel they can relax as well as have their hair done, so there’s space to sit and have a tea or coffee. If they want to stay longer and talk, it’s lovely, especially if they haven’t got a garden of their own. If you need help round here, people are there for you. Behind my garden, Kirbin and his team of mechanics repair cars. It’s a boys’ club – they are great fun, good as gold. If any of his clients are waiting, they can come in. They know that.
Four cats live here: Bertie, Malcolm, Tabitha and Mickey. Mickey’s had his hair styled in the salon by one of the girls. He loves it and goes out front to strut his stuff, which is good for business. Then there are my statues. I’ve got my Easter Island man, made by a friend, my Buddha I found at a car-boot fair and a fellow who reminds me of one of my dogs, Rudy, a water spaniel.
My garden style is a bit off the wall, with a real mixture of plants. I have a crab apple, a fatsia, toad lilies, epimediums, a lovely variegated tulbaghia, a bougainvillea, a gunnera and a ginkgo tree. I enjoy caring for them. It is a bit like hairdressing. I’ve got a book on pruning, but I look at it and think, “I’ll do it my way!” That strawberry tree has got a flat-top; the hydrangeas are more bouffant. I love hydrangeas, especially white ones. One of my clients gave me this sacred bamboo and the boys next door gave me the money plant. People here are really lovely.
My favourite spot
Under the rowan tree and next to a tiny pond containing my water hyacinths. The cats soon join me.
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