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Beautiful riverside cottage garden in Wheathampstead

PUBLISHED: 11:56 04 June 2019

There's plenty of seating in the garden to enjoy the river and the wildlife (photo: Piers Photography)

There's plenty of seating in the garden to enjoy the river and the wildlife (photo: Piers Photography)

Piers Photography

With exotic inspiration from her travels mixed with cottage garden plants and natural areas, Sally Trendell has created a magical riverside garden at her home near Wheathampstead

It's a pretty idyllic setting here,' says Sally Trendell of her garden near Wheathampstead. 'I regularly have moorhens, herons, ducks and even kingfishers on the river, and spot red kites and kestrels from the garden.'

This natural haven is at White Cottage in Water End on the edge of Brocket Park, which Sally moved to six years ago. But while the situation of the garden, beside the river Lea, was idyllic, the condition of it when Sally arrived was less so.

'There were plenty of weeds, broken fences and down by the river the garden was overgrown with nettles,' Sally recalls.

'There was a greenhouse with many broken panes of glass, and the rabbits had moved into the garden.'

Cottage garden borders by the cottage (photo: Piers Photography)Cottage garden borders by the cottage (photo: Piers Photography)

The cottage, which dates to Tudor times, also needed renovations. Once these were done, work on the garden began with clearing and taming overgrown areas.

Sally is no stranger to taking on a garden and transforming it, having spent more than 20 years creating a stunning one in Ayot St Lawrence. There she created a mixture of unexpected features and planting schemes, including an African-inspired treehouse raised on a platform, and mingled traditional cottage garden plants with exotic tree ferns and lush tropical foliage. Her work as an air stewardess has taken her to some of the most exotic places where she enjoyed visiting gardens and gathering ideas to try at home, all in her eclectic style. Her garden at Ayot was open for several years with the National Gardens Scheme, and she opened White Cottage for the scheme for the first time in 2016.

With a whole new space to try out new things, Sally was able to coax gardener Jacqui Turnbull, who she employed at Ayot St Lawrence, to come and work on the garden at White Cottage. The one acre plot now has a mixture of cottage-style planting and an area with exotic and tropical species, while other areas have been left for nature to do it's thing. There's plenty of riverside seating, including swing seats, to sit and enjoy the wildlife.

Sally brought lots of potted plants with her from Ayot St Lawrence. Some were planted out, while others have been left in their containers in an area by the back door of the house to create changing seasonal displays. A collection of tree stumps from the neighbouring Brocket estate, gathered over the years by the gamekeeper, were brought to the garden and are now arranged as a stumpery near a bend in the river. Planted with ferns, it's a lovely place to sit and while away the time in this magical garden.

Sally Trendell has taken inspiration from across the world and combined it with a traditional English style (photo: Piers Photography)Sally Trendell has taken inspiration from across the world and combined it with a traditional English style (photo: Piers Photography)

The old greenhouse was removed and replaced with a border full of colour and interest from shrubs and perennials, while in the orchard the ancient apple trees were given some care and attention and are now flourishing in blossom and fruit. Sally has added more fruit trees too. Rose Cottage, a beautifully overgrown old building in the garden, is near an atmospheric area of the garden near a small tribute to the Lea.

The garden attracts lots of positive comments at Sally's NGS open days. 'It's such a pleasure to have created a place that other gardeners enjoy and are inspired by,' she says. The garden is also much loved by its owner's very friendly spaniel Hector, is a magnet for photography students, and was a filming location for the recent ITV series, Grantchester.

Clematis - one of the climbers up the cottage walls (photo: Piers Photography)Clematis - one of the climbers up the cottage walls (photo: Piers Photography)

As well as creating gardens that she is happy to share with others, they have been the setting for numerous recitals and open air classical concerts since 1993, raising thousands of pounds for charity. This year, there's a midsummer evening of song and music in the garden with Felici Opera in aid of St Peter's Church in Ayot St Lawrence. A charming way to enjoy this charming garden.

Visit the garden

The White Cottage, Waterend Lane, Wheathampstead AL4 8EP

Dining area near the charming Rose Cottage, an ancient outbuilding (photo: Piers Photography)Dining area near the charming Rose Cottage, an ancient outbuilding (photo: Piers Photography)

Open on Friday June 21 for the National Garden Scheme, 5-9.30pm, £5 adult admission. Wine served and picnickers welcome. The garden is also open by arrangement, see ngs.org.uk for details.

On Saturday June 22 there's an open air evening of song and music by Felici Opera from 7.30pm, with the garden open from 5pm for picnics. Tickets are £15 for adults and £5 for children. Go to feliciopera.com for details and to book.

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