‘My instinct was to create four small gardens around the house,’ Alison says. Typical of the Arts & Crafts style and inspired by garden rooms at Hidcote, Sissinghurst and Great Dixter, each garden was to be unique and gardened organically.
In front of the farmhouse house lies a neatly tied Knot Garden, ‘reflective of the period’, with two mirror-image Celtic knot designs traced and then crafted in box, Buxus sempervirens, either side of the house’s entrance. Enclosed in yew (Taxus baccata), evergreen walls contain the space decorated with corresponding symmetrical planting of the ornamental wedding cake tree, Cornus contraversa ‘Variegata’, which is silver in spring and caramelising in autumn. Ruddy-hued peony foliage brings warmth beyond the perimeter of the knots, which are left unplanted to reduce the risk of box blight. The equivalent fully enclosed space to the rear of the house has limited sunlight. The Courtyard Garden is paved with York stone and is set with a stone fountain on a circular, sun-design pebble mosaic.
The enclosed Gravel Garden was formerly a box-rimmed parterre. ‘It succumbed to blight but the inner plantings remain tall and engulfing: Japanese anemones, Persicaria, and six-foot-tall scented roses, ‘Lichfield Angel’ and ‘Jaqueline du Pre’ flower until first frosts,’ says Alison. Curved beds sweep around a circular, lavender-filled raised plinth planted with an on-the-turn fig tree. Colour floods into this cool, green enclave backlit by the brilliance of autumnal acers, liquidambar and sweet cherries, the borrowed landscape of turning trees in the gardens beyond.
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