Gardening: Big ideas for a small garden

PUBLISHED: 16:00 18 August 2011 | UPDATED: 19:52 20 February 2013

A new gravel path and wide borders have replaced the lawn

A new gravel path and wide borders have replaced the lawn

A tiny garden in Bengeo, Hertford, is crammed with beautiful plants and secret corners. Philippa Pearson meets the plant-loving owner and enjoys the gorgeous garden...

AS a garden designer, one of the hardest projects for me is to design my own garden let alone select which of the hundreds of plants I love will be put in the garden, so it was a real inspiration to meet Annie Godfrey in her garden at Bengeo in Hertford.

Annie has trained in horticulture and garden design and runs her own nursery, Daisy Roots, which is located at Jenningsbury in Hertford Heath and has designed her garden twice in the last 10 years. Her latest design for the tiny narrow plot, measuring just 8.5m wide by 30m long, is simply the most stunning garden Ive seen this year.

An enthusiastic plants woman and Chairman of the Hertfordshire Hardy Plant Society group, Annie has used lots of different plants in the garden but the core planting is of perennials, a range of plants which I am also passionate about.

Annie has lived at Bengeo for the last 16 years. Her partner Steve grew up in the same house and when Annie first saw the garden, it was just a concrete patio with a long lawn and small flowerbed to one side. Using her horticultural and design knowledge and skills gained at Capel Manor, ten years ago Annie, with the help of her dad and Steve, created a new patio area and carved out of the lawn some bigger borders to show off her favourite plants. She even built a raised brick pond herself and, keen on growing plants, a greenhouse was added at the end of the garden.

Annies interest in raising plants eventually outgrew the greenhouse and in 2003 she started her nursery Daisy Roots which offers a tempting range of perennials.

From 2002-2006, Annie and Steve opened their garden for the National Gardens Scheme but with their first exhibit at an RHS show in 2007, they decided not open the garden whilst the nursery business developed. Annie also felt that the gardens layout needed to change as she explains: I wanted a sunken garden area, wider paths and more room to put in a larger collection of plants.

In May 2010, the garden underwent a major re-design. The lawn was removed and a wide 1.2m gravel path was created which carves it way past geometric borders to the end of the garden. The majority of the planting was re-designed as well with the emphasis on late summer colour from perennials and early autumn interest from ornamental grasses.

In April this year, a sunken garden was added next to the cleverly disguised shed. The gravel path meanders from the house so that the new sunken garden sits like a secret retreat and is a perfect place to sit in. Scented planting has been selected for this area and Annie has restricted the colour palette to silver and pastel.

This has been quite challenging, she says as I really like bold and bright colours. During late summer, the patio area is full of colourful dahlias and other zingy perennials but I really wanted to have a restful place in the sunken area which is why I chose a calming planting scheme. Here, sweet peas mingle with honeysuckle, roses, scented salvias, Agastache, clove smelling pinks and other fragrant plants.

Even though the garden has only planted during the last 18 months, there is a real sense of establishment in the borders with plants blending and merging together creating interest, texture and movement. To compliment the swathes of perennials in the borders, a collection of Pelargoniums in pots is dotted in groups around the garden. The tiny north facing front garden, created ten years ago, has planting chosen for foliage shape and colour and is Annies next project: I really love snowdrops, she says and Id like to create a pretty spring garden here.

Garden designer and RHS Silver-Gilt medal winner Philippa Pearson was awarded Peoples Choice Award for Best Show Garden at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2010. Visit or contact her on 01767 651253

Visit Annie Godfreys Garden

8 Gosselin Road
SG19 3LG

Open for the NGS on Sunday, 14th August, 12-5.30pm and Sunday 16th October, 12-4.30pm

Admission 3, children free

Daisy Roots Nursery

London Road (opposite Foxholes Farm)
Hertford Heath
SG13 7NS
Tel: 01992 582401

Open every Friday and Saturday, 10am-4pm, from beginning of March to end of October

Annie is doing a workshop, Perfect Planting, at the nursery on Wednesday 3rd August. Places need to booked, contact the nursery for further information.

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