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Late summer madness in High Barnet

PUBLISHED: 15:12 15 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:29 20 February 2013

Even the front door is surrounded by colourful plants

Even the front door is surrounded by colourful plants

Tucked away in a quiet street in High Barnet, a tardis of a garden brims over with late summer colour. Philippa Pearson is dazzled by the display...

JULIAN Bishop is a self-confessed plantaholic. A visit to his garden in High Barnet confirms this as soon as you step foot onto the path leading to the front door. This tiny front garden only measures 20ft by 35ft and it is crammed with what he calls his 'experimental Piet Oudolf-inspired plants' which love dry conditions and include knautia macedonica, tall spires of bronze fennel and persicaria. These are set against a background border of established shrubs which provide year round colour and interest. The hard landscaping and paths are made from recycled materials including 60's concrete, old bottles and cast-off bathroom tiles, creating a fun, interesting yet welcoming effect. Did I mention there is also room to park a car here as well?
Julilan and his wife Rhian came to the house 11 years ago, moving from a few streets away. They opened the garden at their previous house and brought several plants with them for the new plot. They moved in during May and decided to create a new garden straight away; the garden was just lawn with some mature trees around the edges but no real structure in place. Julian likes late summer plants and the garden was planned to be at its peak from August onwards with colour themed borders.
I squeezed along the covered side passage, brimming with plants in containers, to the back garden, amazed at the sheer wealth of plants and design features packed into a small space measuring 90ft by 35ft. The garden is split into three areas, divided by hedges and arches, complete with two water features near the house. One is situated in a hot border full of bright orange and yellow nasturtiums climbing up a wall, vibrant red dahlias and several interesting hardy salvias. 'I've tried to create a tropical look here,' says Julian who is a producer with the BBC. Salvias are a bit of a passion with him, the latest addition being salvia coahuilensis with purple flowers and blackcurrant fragranced leaves. The yellow themed border opposite has day lilies, rudbeckias and one of my favourite specimen shrubs, buddleja globosa which has fabulous pom-poms of yellow-orangey flowers throughout the summer. The middle area has a white border with gladiolus callianthus, persicaria, annual white cosmos and roses. 'I've gone quite big on edible things this year', says Julian and raised beds in this area have fruit, herbs, courgettes and other vegetables ripening in the sun. This area of the garden is very tranquil with a swinging wooden seat, a favourite place for the cats, too. At the top of the garden a small greenhouse sits adjacent to the children's play area, built around an ash tree where lower branches have been removed to raise the tree's canopy to create more space.
People come from far and wide to see this tiny but inspiring garden. One year, Rhian was heavily pregnant and went into premature labour - but not before serving homemade teas to more than 200 visitors to the garden! The plant stall is always popular and Julian propagates plants from cuttings or grows them from seed. An empty pot doesn't have time to gather dust in this garden: 'If there's an empty plant pot around when I get home from work, I usually find something to propagate and put in it!' says this plantaholic gardener.

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