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A magical garden at Ayot St Lawrence

PUBLISHED: 12:48 11 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:19 20 February 2013

A magical garden at Ayot St Lawrence

A magical garden at Ayot St Lawrence

Tucked away in leafy Ayot St Lawrence, Sally Trendall's garden is inspired by exotic travels. Philippa Pearson explores a tranquil oasis

Tucked away in leafy Ayot St Lawrence, Sally Trendalls garden is inspired by exotic travels. Philippa Pearson explores a tranquil oasis

Sally Trendalls work as an air stewardess has taken her to some of the most exotic places in the world. A seasoned traveller and enthusiastic gardener, Sally enjoys visiting gardens on her travels abroad and comes home with plentiful ideas that she implements in her garden.
Once home of the playwright and author George Bernard Shaw, Ayot St Lawrence is a quintessential English village with leafy lanes, hearty pubs and a stunning Palladian church. Next to the village green is the ruin of the 12th-century parish church and Sallys garden nestles next to its romantic churchyard.
At just over a quarter of an acre, the garden at 2 Ruins Cottage is a mixture of the unexpected, given the location, where traditional cottage garden plants mingle with exotic tree ferns and lush tropical foliage. Sally started work on the garden not long after moving there 20 years ago, putting in cottage garden perennials and shaping the lawn. A decade later came the opportunity to purchase some land adjacent to the garden (which she did) and she began to extend the garden area, adding new features including two ponds and a garden room. Four years ago, a huge chestnut tree in the churchyard fell into the garden, luckily when Sally wasnt there. A few more trees in the churchyard and the garden also came crashing down and on her return from abroad surveying the devastation, Sally saw this tragedy as an opportunity that has created more natural light in the garden as well as opened up views of the ruined church and the beautiful pastoral countryside surrounding the garden. Whilst clearing away branches and undergrowth one sunny evening, Sally literally climbed a tree and took in the glowing sunset and admired the views. It seemed obvious that this spot, said Sally, was perfect for an African-inspired tree house for relaxing at the end of the day. Four years ago the wooden raised platform was built and it cleverly blends perfectly in the garden and is, indeed, a wonderful and magical place to sit amongst the tree tops and chill out. Underneath the platform is a cool, shady grotto-like area where tree ferns flourish. This area reminds me of gardens in Bangkok, says Sally. Theres even an ornate metal day bed here, another perfect spot to cool down in high summer.

In the larger of the two ponds, she has used an old sink trough
as a waterfall feature

Throughout the garden, Sally has made good use of reclaimed and antique artefacts and materials, all sourced from local outlets across Hertfordshire. I love going around salvage yards and collecting things for the garden, says Sally. In the larger of the two ponds, she has used an old sink trough as a waterfall feature whilst statues and old containers are dotted around the garden.
Sally first opened the garden for the NGS last year to coincide with the Annual Art Show in the stunning Palladian church which you can see from the garden. This years garden opening also runs alongside this event and during the evening opening on Saturday June 12, Sally has organised for her friend Annett Busse to give a piano recital in the nearby ruined church. An event not to be missed.


2 Ruins Cottage,
Ayot St Lawrence

The garden is open for the NGS
on Saturday June 12from 2-7pm and SundayJune 13 from 2-6pm. Admission is 3, children free. Refreshments available.
Annett Busse is doing a piano recital at 6pm on Saturday 12th June in the ruined church. Admission is 5 or 7 for a combined recital and garden ticket. Bring picnic rugs, chairs. Licensed bar and tea tent in the churchyard.
The 36th Annual Art Show also takes place over the weekend in
the nearby Palladian church.


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