Gardening with Daphne: A mirror for my Secret Garden

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A couple of years ago, while visiting the National Trust Property, Anglesey Abbey near Cambridge, I saw in their shop an outdoor mirror which I thought would make a useful addition to the garden.

It wasn’t too expensive, but being away from home, I just couldn’t visualise how it could be used in our garden, and just hanging up a mirror for no real purpose didn’t seem a sensible buy.

I’ve never forgotten that mirror, and when I saw an identical one in the trust’s mail order catalogue, I looked round to see where it could be used to advantage, and there it was!

A wall at the end of a small area we call the ‘Secret Garden’ because you can sit at a little table and drink coffee, out of earshot of the telephone and hidden from cold callers who, at the back door, can’t see us but we can see them.

It’s a pretty strip that used to be occupied by an unnecessary and time-consuming privet hedge, bordering one side wall of the garage, and sheltered from all winds, but it did look somewhat cramped.

By hanging this mirror on the end wall, which divides this area from the side entrance to the garage, we immediately made the Secret Garden less isolated, while still retaining its privacy, as now you seem to be looking through an unglazed window into a garden beyond.

This wall was covered in a pretty climber called parthenocissus ‘Birch Grove Red’, a form of Virginia creeper slightly less rampant than other varieties, which I bought locally many years ago and have never been able to find again since.

By hanging the mirror in front of this, so framing it in red-tinged foliage, it gives even more the impression that there is something beyond.

The only drawback – if there is one – is that I tend to forget it’s there, while it’s so new, at any rate, and walking round the corner, I almost jump out of my skin to find what appears to be another person in the garden.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long to recognise myself as the intruder, and I come away resolving once more to start yet another diet!