This Wiltshire garden looks, as its owner says, ‘as if it has been here for donkeys years’. A gravel drive curves up to the front door of a banded flint and brick barn, past lawns planted with compact yew pillars and weeping Pyrus salicifolia Pendula pears. The barn medieval in part with later additions stands within a group of farm buildings, including a listed granary, at the top of a hill, with no other house visible for miles.
Pyrus salicifolia Pendula pear tree
Beyond the barn lies an intimate garden in which tightly packed spires of Salvia nemorosa Ostfriesland, frothy lime green Alchemilla mollis and the mottled foliage of pulmonaria spill out of well-stocked borders. The garden, however, wasnt always such a picture of cottage-style perfection. When the owners began leasing the property in the summer of 2007 to be near family at weekends, there was nothing at the front and a quarter of an acre of brambles at the back. The owners wanted a garden that would be appropriate for both the building and its farmland setting. Accordingly, they decided to keep the front garden deliberately geometrical and structured an elegantly modern take on an old-fashioned farmyard.
Similar vintage watering can
The owners freely admit that they are no gardeners, so the square behind the house was more of a challenge for the couple. Over supper one evening, however, a garden designer friend drew a simple layout that set the owners on the right path. He suggested a low stone terrace near the barn, with a central lawn framed by gravel paths and four beds. 'Without that scribble on the back of a shopping list we wouldnt have known where to start.' Geranium Brookside now does well in the herbaceous border, which is a painterly mix of pale mauves and deep purples.
The Chelsea Gardener
The garden is strictly symmetrical, with niches set in the borders for vintage benches facing one another across the lawn. 'Its the interior designer in me. In a room, I will always have an armchair on either side of a fireplace so in the garden, if I have one clump, I will want it to be balanced by another clump.' Details like this give the garden balance and formality.
Similar vintage bench
The Vintage Garden Company
In spite of the note of formality, the owners have created a comfortable cottage garden, ably assisted by two venerable apple trees and a greengage tree from an earlier orchard on the site, all set against ancient flint and brick walls. The herbaceous border at the back of the garden billows with clouds of Nepata Six Hills Giant, 'whacked in to give immediate results'.
Flint wall design and repair
The Flint Wall Company
Snowdrops and white daffodils are followed by multi-coloured tulips in spring and, in summer, the beds are packed with white cosmos, blue geraniums, catmint and various salvias together with yellow alchemilla, helenium and coreopsis. Burgundy accents are provided by Penstemon Burgundy, Astrantia major Claret and Digitalis parviflora Milk Chocolate; later still, there are ripples of Verbena bonariensis with roundels of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis Tuscan Blue), their grey foliage setting off the colour scheme.
Selection of plants, shrubs and flowers
Having shown no previous interest in gardening, the owners have 'gone from nought to one hundred and ten'. One of their achievements has been to coax back to life the old roses by 'tenderly loving, mulching and repairing them'. As the roses have revived and begun to flower, many of them have proved to be pink and at odds with the colour scheme. 'I was upset at first, but in fact they make it look less perfect and more like a proper cottage garden.' The wonderfully wild-looking Rosa Rambling Rector creates a painterly scene against a mix of soft mauve and purple flowers.
Rosa Rambling Rector plants
David Austin Roses
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