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Old House Garden Plants

[intro]There is a natural symbiosis that exists between historic, old and often listed buildings and the gardens which surround them. Especially in the UK, certain plants and planting techniques can evoke powerfully nostalgic feelings when framing an old house. [/intro]

Embedded in our childhood memories of idyllic British summers are all the old favorites that make up a traditional country garden; roses, lavender, foxgloves, stocks and lupines are instantly recognisable in traditional beds and are excellent for lining pathways or for flowerbeds beneath windows. Not only do they look beautiful, but their delicate fragrance will be wafting through your home throughout the summer months.

Can a well-stocked garden add value to an old home?

Gardens large or small will always add value to any property, but in the market of exclusive old and listed homes, the gardens and particularly the planting really comes into its own. Those who understand gardening will readily appreciate the time and investment that has gone into nurturing thriving perennials such as camellias, hydrangeas or agapanthus and the value they hold. A well-stocked garden is especially attractive to potential buyers, not only are they beautiful, but they are the product of a great deal of skill, time and money.

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Are climbers damaging old buildings?

Many people shy away from picturesque listed buildings blanketed in ivy or elegantly draped in wisteria. The fear is that they are damaging the old building itself. This very much depends on the plant and how well maintained it is. Wisteria, roses, clematis, honeysuckle, climbing hydrangeas – predominately speaking are all fine, so long as they have not been planted too close to the wall and are not permitted to get wildly out of hand. This is because they are all ‘twiners’, ivy on the other hand is a ‘gripper’ it supports itself by aerial roots, meaning that it can and will penetrate cracks or joints in masonry that may cause structural damage.

Other worries over climbers which cover walls concern dampness. Although this may be possible on a south-west facing wall exposed to driving rain and prevailing winds, there is also an argument that these plants actually have a slight drying effect on mortar and could provide some degree of insulation.

Are trees a risk?

Trees represent another potential problem to buyers of old houses. On the one hand they are can be a real advantage, for anyone who’s ever stopped to admire a flowering magnolia or blossom tree, discovering that one of these come with the property can be a added bonus. Established trees can contribute to privacy, security and provide welcome shade, however they will also have put down substantial roots. Further complications arise if you want to remove trees, this depends on proximity, the foundations of the property and the clay content of soil. The removal of trees with large root systems, in extreme cases can be responsible for heave, which can have serious repercussions.

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Old House Insurance

If you are in doubt about the possible risks associated with certain trees or plants that could negatively interact with an old or listed building, you can always check with a specialist insurer of listed buildings. This is something we routinely come up against at Highworth Insurance and are happy to advise on. If you are looking to insure an old home or listed building, it is worth mentioning to your insurer about any significant climbers or trees on your property which concern you.
You can contact our specialist advisors at Highworth Insurance if you are interested in insuring a listed building and have any concerns about existing plants or trees on your property.