The newly constructed new garage/garden workshop, which linked to the main house by means of a ‘wraparound’ portico, allowed for the design and construction of a contemporary courtyard next to the kitchen. Importantly, it had to be sustainable in terms of both the materials and plants chosen. The building materials are hardwearing with a long-life expectancy and sourced locally and/or from the UK. The planting is lower maintenance and drought tolerant where possible to limit water usage. It also positively added to the biodiversity and ecology of the remainder of the site.
The newly designed courtyard is used for relaxing in for most of the day and for entertaining family and friends. Its east/south aspect also allows the space to be used for much of the year, so year-round interest was also imperative. There are flexible zones for cooking, dining and seating. A small water feature was integrated into the design, so everyone can enjoy the sound of water while using the space.
Inspired by The Lost Gardens of Heligan, The Ravine Garden was created to deliver a truly vibrant planting scheme which would provide interest throughout the year and would increase the biodiversity of the site significantly.
The site conditions are unique with a cool, damp, and shady valley floor, which graduates through east and west facing banks to the hot and dry planting of the southerly facing banks. As such, the conditions were both a challenge and an exciting opportunity to blend diverse, yet fascinating planting schemes which could thrive in a Ravine-type environment.
In addition to thriving in the diverse conditions, the overall requirement for the planting was to add year-round interest, varied form, interesting textures and a sense of intimacy within the space. The intimacy was intended to allow a cool, relaxing space to chill out and unwind from the pressures of modern-day life.
As the name suggests, the scheme includes a range of plants which dislike an alkaline/chalky soil. Our native soil type is ‘Berkshire Gravel’ which has a generally neutral ph value, but we have added a lot of ericaceous organic matter and the plants thrive in their new home. This border has all year round interest as the rhododendrons, camellias, pieris and a majority of the azaleas are evergreen, as well as the Drimys winteri which has masses of little yellow flowers in mid-summer.
In the autumn, the Acer palmatums turn a varying shade of reds, yellows and oranges to reveal an underplanting of dwarf azaleas and ferns.
The border comes in to its own from April to May with a kaleidoscope of colours from the rhodondendrons and azaleas, plus the wonderful blossom from the Prunus ‘Amanogawa’ and Ceanothus ‘Trewithien Blue’.
It comes in to its own from November onwards, as the leaves turn crimson and eventually fall to reveal the stunning stems of Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’, Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ and Rubus cockburnianus. These are set off against a foreground scheme of dark planting to accentuate their colours in the low winter light.
Rose and Herb Border
Positioned perfectly outside the kitchen window, a variety of herbs and roses are in close proximity to the house. The roses, both standard and shrub are in full flower through late May, June and in to early July and feature favourites such as Rosa ‘Iceberg’ and ‘Charles de Mills’. An underplanting of herbs and a vast range of flowering ‘woody’salvias complement the overall scheme and add interest right through the summer and well into autumn.
Created on a sunny south-facing slope, a variety of desert loving plants enjoy the sunny and fiercely drained location. Notable favourites are Agave ‘Americana’ both variegated and glauca, Aloe striatulata, Fascicularia bicolor, Dasylirion ‘Wheeleri’ and swathes of Echeveria.
A majority of the plants remain in the bed with some winter protection all year round, apart from the Aeonium ‘Schwarzkopf’ and Aloe arborescens which need to be in the greenhouse from November to March.
By far the biggest borders in the garden, wrapping around the Tropical Terrace they span 45m in length and at their deepest are 9m wide. They occupy a southerly aspect and benefit from the microclimate created by the three layered terraces, thus allowing a wide variety of Mediterranean plants to thrive on the Hampshire/Berkshire border.
Covering 80 square metres, visitors to the garden are surrounded by Citrus trees, Brugmansia, Ficus Carica, Nerium Oleander, various succulents and aloes, plus dwarf peaches and scented pelargoniums that create a holiday atmosphere. The terrace is primarily used by guests to enjoy their tea, coffee and slice of homemade cake.
Measuring just over 26m in length, the Prairie Border in mid-July is a truly wonderful sight; swathes of perennials softened by the flowing grasses create a stunning scheme.
The border comes into life through June as the Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ and Geum ‘Queen of Orange’ begin to light the bed, reaching its crescendo in mid-July with the Echinacea purpurea, Rudbeckia ‘Goldstrum’, Helenium ‘Sahins Early’ and ‘Moreheim Beauty’ set against Salvia ‘Amistad’ and Stipa Gigantea. The border then quietly recedes into late summer with a glorious Aster and Croscosmia combination, before the seed heads of the grasses set themselves up for a wonderful autumn/early winter structural display.
Transports you to the Equatorial regions of our planet, displaying 3m tall bananas (Musa Basjoo), Cannas, Hedychiums, Dahlias and Brugmansia to create a truly tropical atmosphere. The border reaches its climax in August and shouts “look at me” until the first frosts in October/November.
Set in the lower gardens, they feature four herbaceous borders enclosed by a 2m tall hornbeam hedge. The top two quadrants feature a yellow and purple colour scheme, punctuated by the occasional cold shot of white Leucanthemum to add contrast to the strong scheme.
The bottom two quadrants feature polar opposites; one being a hot border, full of oranges, reds and yellows from Crocosmia, Hemerocallis, Rudbeckia and Lobelia tupa, but to name a few. In contrast, the last quadrant is cool, calm and sophisticated with flowing pastel shades of English cottage planting.
Planted in 2010, it features 36 fruit trees, planted in grid formation and enclosed by trained fruit trees which have been espaliered, fan trained and candelabra pruned. Many varieties of apple, pear, plum and cherry enjoy the south-facing site which has been protected on three sides by a substantial hornbeam hedge.
Flanking the western edge of the orchard are the four grape vines, being home to 20 different varieties of both wine and dessert grape.
Built in 2015, the site was leveled in the winter of that year. Symmetrically designed along the axes of the new glasshouse and south-facing wall, it incorporates formal raised beds, fan trained fruit trees along the perimeter, a relaxing patio next to the fountain and two vibrant rose borders which send waves of scent over the garden on a warm summer’s day.
Originally planted and designed by the previous owners of Old Camps, it features a wonderful symmetrical design of four quadrants, each split in to four again and flanked by box hedges that hold hydrangeas and annual plantings of cosmos. Covering the garden is a substantial pergola, which provides a cool relaxing area under the rambling Rosa ‘Iceberg’ and a mature Wisteria.
Gardens at Night
The Mediterranean Terraces are punctuated by shafts of coloured light, which create stunning silhouettes after sunset against the palms, olives and fir trees.