The six beds in this historic formal garden had not been replanted for many years, and because it is acid, sandy soil a planting of heathers had been the choice of the previous owners. These were well past their best and the soil in the beds was completely devoid of any nutrients with liverwort covering most of the bare soil. Once removed, enormous quantities of organic material was incorporated to try and feed and open up the soil. Only then were the beds ready for planting. Preparation is incredibly important to give any plants a good chance of survival.
When choosing plants for a planting scheme I try to approach this rather like composing a painting. Colours and tones, as well as form and texture all play a part and with this project my inspiration came from the beautiful brickwork and lead guttering on this listed house. Originally designed as part of a formal garden the footprint needed to stay, but by using trees and shrubs not normally associated with a formal scheme a more natural feel was achieved. The perimeter of the garden borders onto mature woodland and I wanted to reflect this.
I chose a palette of herbaceous perennials in warm russets, silver, lavender, violet and steely blues which during the seasons change with the light. Bulbs are dusky pinks, coffees, magentas and white providing a completely different colour scheme in early spring, which compliment the delicate early foliage and blossom of the multi stemmed Amelanchier lamarckii. These provide formality in the two central beds with four Crataegus x lavallei ‘Carrierei’ in each of the outside beds, which in turn have beautiful blossom in spring and berries in the autumn. The exquisite brick herringbone path through the centre is edged with Buxus sempervirens balls and Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ adding to the formal nature of the beds.