A garden for all seasons
PUBLISHED: 01:16 14 June 2011 | UPDATED: 19:33 20 February 2013
A windy exposed garden at Standon has been lovingly created into a mixture of formal and informal areas. Philippa Pearson enjoys a tour around Bromley Hall garden...
When we first moved here nearly 50 years ago, says Edwina Robarts, there was nothing in the garden except the borders near the drive.
Situated on a high point in Hertfordshire, the four and a half acre garden at Bromley Hall was mostly open fields and paddocks; putting in some shelter from the continuous wind was essential. Edwina and husband Julian planted yew and beech hedges as 12-15inch plants, now established as mature hedges, and built walls and planted trees to protect the garden.
The kitchen garden is very much Julians domain and he grows all the vegetables from seed and also looks after the fruit trees
New planting schemes developed and Edwina has chosen plants that can cope with the light, sandy, gravelly and fast draining soil.
The soil is good for Mediterranean style plants but vegetables and other produce dont cope so well in the kitchen garden. We eventually put a watering system in for the vegetables which uses water from our own well.
The kitchen garden is very much Julians domain and he grows all the vegetables from seed and also looks after the fruit trees and soft fruit.
He has very skilfully pruned the apple trees in the orchard to a lovely open goblet shape, good for letting air circulate which helps with natural pest and disease control.
Edwinas great aunt was Heather Muir who created the celebrated Kiftsgate garden in the Cotswolds and Edwina has inherited her green fingers. She has chosen plants and border schemes that are a delight to the eyes and senses, mixing traditional and contemporary planting schemes.
Plants for year-round interest and wide grass pathways with viewpoints feature throughout the garden and there are lots of places to sit and enjoy the vistas and planting. In the woodland area trees with good autumn colour include the red oak, Quercus robur, lots of maples Acer platanoides Cleveland which has an attractive dome shape and Acer platanoides Crimson King whose burgundy foliage turns crimson in autumn and a good selection of Ash, Fraxinus which also has glorious colour later in the year. Theres also a grove of 25 silver birch trees given to the couple by Julians mother to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.
A part enclosed walled garden area near the house shelters a range of colourful bulbs, shrubs, roses and perennials and just near this is what Edwina calls her Yellow Border.
I seemed to have lots of yellow plants spread throughout the garden, says Edwina, and I decided they would work better all together in one border, so I moved them here.
This was several years before Hot Borders became a trendy garden feature. The old tennis court is now a petanque area and Edwina has created a modern contemporary garden surrounding this with raised sleeper beds and tall lollipop shaped Ligustrum lucidum. A Kiftsgate rose, a nod to Edwinas great aunt, rambles through an old apple tree nearby.
The sweeping gravel entrance drive has a mixed border planted for year-long interest. Clipped box balls add evergreen structure whilst Cordateria richardii, grown from cuttings taken from a relatives home in Scotland, provides elegant plumes throughout winter. Tulips give colour in spring, followed by roses, geranium, allium and Stachys byzantina. Autumn colour is provided by dahlias, salvia and Michaelmas daisies.
Edwina and Julian have been opening their garden to visitors for over 30 years, the last ten for the National Gardens Scheme of which Edwina was the County Organiser for Hertfordshire and she is now on the Council of Trustees for the East Anglia area.
Walking around the garden, there are lots of plants that have been given to Edwina and Julian or planted by friends and family. Its like meeting old friends every time I come out in the garden, says Edwina, admiring mature trees and shrubs grown from seed and once young plants, all donated over the years. This charming garden is well worth a visit to enjoy the wealth of ideas and inspiration.
RHS Silver-Gilt medal winner Philippa Pearson is a garden designer and professional horticulturalist, awarded Peoples Choice Award for Best Show Garden at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2010. Visit www.philippapearson.co.uk or contact her on 01767 651253