Good Life garden that would suit a hardy perennial

Ian Topham in the plot which is just 30ft wide but could well be the country's longest back garden.''Pictures: Gerard Binks
Ian Topham in the plot which is just 30ft wide but could well be the country's longest back garden.''Pictures: Gerard Binks
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The term cottage garden may be technically correct when it comes to describing the land behind Ian and Barbara Topham’s two-bedroom home, but it’s a gross understatement.

The 30ft-wide plot stretches for three-quarters of a mile and could well be the longest back garden in Britain.

Walking to the bottom and back takes at least half an hour and tending it requires much more than a bit of pottering.

It is Ian’s pride and joy but after suffering a stroke, which means he is unable to look after his horticultural haven, he is offering someone else the chance to live the “Good Life”.

The Tophams are selling the three acres of land and accompanying cottage in Alne, near Easingwold, for £340,000. The house has a kitchen with Aga, a scullery with range cooker, garden room, sitting room and conservatory downstairs with two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs.

Estate agent Barry Dinner, of Stephensons, Easingwold, said: “I haven’t come across anything like it in all my 28 years. It’s the longest back garden I’ve ever seen. It really is incredible. It just goes on and on.”

Former postmaster and MBE Ian, who was Mayor of Boroughbridge, retired to the old railway worker’s cottage nine years ago after spotting the chance to create the garden of his dreams.

“We retired here because it’s a unique property and I fell in love with it.

“I love gardening and I knew I could do so much here. The land used to belong to the railways and at one time the line actually ran through it.

“The tracks were taken up and soil brought in and the man we bought the house from had used it for growing young trees.”

Ian spent years transforming it into a “grow your own” paradise complete with space for livestock.

Walking down the garden from the top will take you past a patio with pond and barbecue area then by flower borders and a caravan that doubles as a store.

The 12ft greenhouse beyond is used for growing seedlings, tomatoes and cucumbers, while the enormous 40ft greenhouse further down is for tomatoes and year-round baby carrots and turnips.

A recently planted rose garden with pergolas is next followed by a 70ft-long Nissen hut that Ian used as a workshop.

A little further along is the vegetable plot and a series of raised beds built by Ian to grow leeks, cauliflowers, cabbages, onions, potatoes, peas, beans and strawberries that helped to supply his son John’s restaurant at The General Tarleton, Ferrensby. It is also used to grow sweet peas that were sold to local florists.

Beyond the rabbit-proof fence there is a large raspberry cage and then another caravan cum potting “shed”.

Next are two paddocks that are mown to keep the grass down and an old railway goods carriage that was once used as a goat shelter.

Lastly, there is what Ian calls a wildlife area with trees, wildflowers, daffodils, snowdrops and a stream.

“It’s a wonderful place and I was really busy creating it until last September when I had a stroke. Now I’m afraid I can’t keep up to it.

“The hedge is three quarters of a mile long and just cutting that is a big job and something I can no longer manage,” says Ian, 73.

“I’ve really enjoyed the garden as have my grandchildren who loved making dens in the wildlife area and it’s been great for walking my dog.

“I am leaving it with regret and I’m sad I won’t see the David Austin roses fully-established but I can look back and think of the nine very happy years I’ve had here.”

The Gables, Alne, is for sale through Stephensons,