The Small Rural Back Garden

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This back garden was neglected and overtaken by weeds. The clients wanted a garden for children to play in, and adults to appreciate, inspired by the gardens at Great Dixter. They also wanted to maintain the character of the existing garden, retaining the existing steps and dry stone walling.

I brought the level of the garden down around the garage, so that it didn’t contravene the damp proof course, and put in small steps to match the existing steps and a stepping stone path to add interest and fun for the children. The garden was designed so that they could run round it in a circuit and play football on the lawn. The lawn was a hardwearing and species rich turf, which included wildflowers that can cope with mowing, such as daisies and clover.

The planting was designed to have colour and interest throughout the year, utilising foliage, berries and stem colour as well as flower colour. Interest is created using varied and contrasting textures, heights and shapes. Planting includes Mahonia for texture and winter interest, cotoneaster, contrasted with the feathery leaves of ferns, contrasted with the round fleshy leaves of Bergenia, contrasted with the strap-like leaves and bright flowers of crocosmia, dogwoods, underplanted with snowdrops, hellebores, and cyclamen for winter interest. Heuchera ‘Lime Rickey’ and ‘Blackbird’ provide year-round colour.



Secret Garden Sketch 2


Secret Garden Sketch 3



Spring has sprung

Small garden

Spring has sprung

Secret Garden

Spring has sprung

I included spring bulbs such as crocuses, daffodils, native bluebells, Muscari, miniature irises and species tulips, as well as primroses, pulmonaria, Dicentra, Chaenomeles, Milium effusum ‘Aureum’ (a yellow-green ornamental grass which will grow in shady areas), to brighten up shady spots, contrasted with the shiny kidney-shaped leaves of Asarum europeaeum, and cyclamen, Arum italicum ‘Marmoratum’, Aubretia and Polygonatum x hybridum provide further contrast to the patchwork of spring planting, whilst a burst of summer colour is provided by Hemerocalis, and Salvias. Height is provided by Verbascums, Thalictrums, Verbena bonariensis, Asters, Acanthus, Anemone x hybrida, Eupatorium purpureum, Foeniculum vulgare purpureum, Helianthus, Angelica, Tanacetum and Digitalis. Rhus typhina, Michaelmas daisies, Hydrangea querqifolia and cyclamen hederofolium provide autumn interest. Alliums, Eryngiums Selinum wallichianum and fennel provide colour and texture.

Plants were chosen for leaf shape, texture, and foliage colour as much as for their flowers. I hope the result is interesting, inspiring, exciting and constantly changing.

The garden is in a conservation area, and was surrounded by trees, however, we managed to get planning permission to take out some trees, and lift the canopy on others, so the garden is much brighter and sunnier than it was. We also buried the oil tank, freeing up more garden space for planting.

This page will be updated with fresh pictures as the season progresses.

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