Paradise Garden & Sun Terrace

Here’s to Monty Don!

There are many things that I have learnt over the last few months since we’ve been at Maple Bank, but I never thought that would include how to build a terrace and create a Paradise Garden. And for that I have both my mum, Ann, and Monty Don to thank.

When we took over Maple Bank, my mum was most definitely our self-appointed Head Gardener. My only requests have been that it is as low maintenance as possible, that someone else mows the lawn – particularly the top of the back garden, thank you Stephen – and that we have lots of red geraniums – flowers I fell in love with whilst reading ‘Little White Horse‘ by Elizabeth Goodge as a small girl.

Our catch-phrase each day seems to have become “I’ve been thinking….” and little did I expect “I’ve been thinking about the decking” would lead to such a wonderful creation. After watching Monty Don enjoy the Paradise Gardens in Iran, Mum had decided that she wanted to create her own Cumbrian Paradise Garden at Maple Bank. And what a transformation!!!

Thankfully we were enable to enlist the help of some wonderful folk – Colin, Binki and Stephen – to help with the heavy lifting, as well as Leon to build a retaining wall for us at very short notice. A few car loads to the local dump offloaded all sorts of things found under the decking, as well as several bonfires that got rid of the actual decking itself. The final touches were the multiple bags of rose granite from Oakhurst Nurseries in Cockermouth, also in multiple car trips as we kept needing “one more bag…

And finally we have our own sun terrace and Paradise Garden for our guests to sit out and enjoy the evening sunshine. Now I just need to be patient and wait for confirmation that the frosts have definitely ended and then we can add in the final touches with the geraniums.

Spring at Maple Bank

I look back on the last 12 months and I can’t believe that I’m now sitting here at Maple Bank writing my first blog.  We’ve been the very proud caretakers of Maple Bank for six months now and its certainly been busy.
Arriving on September 7 2018 – same day as the Tour of Britain – was a slight challenge for our removal lorries but we managed to greet our guests, produce my first breakfast the next day and unload everything over two days.  Fortunately I had an amazing training session and handover from Tommy and Rhona, the previous owners, having stayed with them for a few days in August, so I stuck rigidly to their advice on the basis that “if it’s not broken then don’t change it”.  In our research before starting on this venture, I heard several horror stories about other hand overs and I can’t thank Tommy, Rhona and Amy enough for their amazing advice, help and friendship.  I consider myself very fortunate that they still own and let Maple Bank Cottage next door so we get to see them each week – and I think my endless questions have now stopped too!

Every new owner to a bed and breakfast wants to put their own stamp on the place, but I also didn’t want to change too much as this was the place I fell in love with.  We’ve had some paint pots out in January and my mum, Ann, is Chief Gardener, so she’s having a great time planning a new patio and pond to replace the decking.  Mum is also a great lover of birds so it’s really lovely to see all the different birds coming to the back patio at the back of the house to feed – three robins at one point sitting along the fence.  And that includes pheasants stalking around the car park and grazing in the garden.  At one point we had over twenty pheasants in our garden and Maple Bank Cottage’s – just amazing for me to see as a city-girl. 

So I think the main change here is that our personal pictures are everywhere.  Mum and I have been fortunate enough to have travelled all over the place, and my parents lived in Hong Kong for a few years, which means that we have collected lots of paintings, pictures and postcards over the years, which now fill the house and rooms.  This also includes pictures of those subjects close to our hearts of the mountains, the beach, the sea, sailing, horse-riding and different art styles.

Now that the paint brush is down, and our new website is launched, I can turn my attentions to enjoying the surrounding Lake District.  Primarily doing some more walking with my beloved Tara, resident Border Terrier, as well as ‘researching’ all the different places to eat – it’s a tough job!  Although I do need to be careful and make sure there is a good balance between walking and eating as there is a definite theme developing on the ‘Things to Do’ page: cake, scones, lunch, dinner and more cake!!

So what does March hold for us at Maple Bank?  Well all the bulbs are about to burst out so we are should have our own ‘host of golden daffodils’ shortly, along with some tulips – having already enjoyed the snowdrops.  Hopefully the patio will be finished over the next few weeks, and then we can start to plant the pots and pond up for the summer, can’t wait to sit out there in the sunshine or at the end of the day with a wee glass of something.  We’ve also got some Bee Bombs to dig in and I’m really excited about seeing those come to flower.  I’ve got a few bits and bobs to tidy up in the private bathroom so that folk can enjoy a bath after a long day out walking.  Hopefully I’ll get to walk up a few more Wainwrights – although nothing with a scary ridge as I’m not a fan of heights whatsoever (hint hint to my brother/guide!!!!).  And then I want to get some more information on the Events page of our website so we all know what is up-and-coming in and around Keswick this year.  And of course, enjoying Mum’s baking!!