The dreamy gardens of Burloes Hall
PUBLISHED: 11:16 01 August 2017 | UPDATED: 11:16 01 August 2017
Katharine Edwards used her artist's eye for colour when the planting at Burloes Hall was redesigned. Philippa Pearson explores the garden near Royston
Exploring colour and nature is key to Katharine Edwards’ paintings. After studying at St Martin’s School of Art in London and Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, she has exhibited widely and her work is in private collections in the UK and across the world. Katharine loves fusing elements of landscape, shape, contour and patterns into her work and is inspired by the gently rolling north Hertfordshire chalk hills around her home and studio of Burloes Hall, near Royston. The country house is in a beautiful Queen Anne style with stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The estate is situated on the Greenwich Meridian and near the crossroads of two ancient roads, the Icknield Way and Ermine Street.
Burloes Hall’s generous lawns are bordered by elegant tall beech trees of about 150-years-old and mature yew hedges, adding formality alongside the deep colourful mixed herbaceous borders.
‘The borders have been added to over many years since Edwardian times,’ explains Katharine, ‘And the garden continues to be developed.’
Five years ago Burloes Hall was launched as a wedding venue, so it is important to have the borders looking at their best for the many weddings that take place from April to the end of September.
‘We changed some planting colour schemes and added new plants to other areas,’ says Katharine, who enjoyed the chance to use her artistic talents for colour and detail in the planting. The eight central flower beds on the front lawn have salvia x superba ‘Mainacht’ mixed with white ‘Iceberg’ roses, all bordered with nepeta.
In the long herbaceous borders Katharine wanted the planting to be a palette of purples, whites and golds, with splashes of blue and a touch of pink. The planting here includes hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’, delphinium ‘Sir Galahad‘ and ‘Black Knight’, ceanothus ‘Gloire de Versailles’, astrantias, clematis and roses. Billowing and bountiful nepeta is repeated to good effect throughout the garden while rosa ‘Kiftsgate’ scrambles over pergolas, and gold and silver borders include achillea ‘Taygetea’, alchemilla mollis, euphorbia ‘Silver Swan’, phlomis fruticosa and rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’.
A sunken garden surrounds a pond and has four beds with shaped quercus ilex underplanted with lavender angustifolia ‘Hidcote’. The Edwardian hedges enclosing this secret garden have mixed herbaceous borders with pink peonies, geranium ‘Mavis Simpson’, penstemons and several euphorbias. Near the garden’s ha-ha – a recessed ditch designed to keep grazing animals out of the more formal areas without obstructing views – a hedge of rosa ‘Pheasant’ has large clusters of prolific double, deep rose-pink blooms.
The new planting blends perfectly with the mature trees, shrubs and original garden features to create a pleasing combination of old and new, and all set against far-reaching countryside views. Working with Katharine to create the sumptuous schemes is Furneux Pelham-based ‘roving head gardener’ Gill Chamberlain from Garden Rescue who has been involved with the gardens at Burloes Hall for more than 12 years. During this time, she has worked with Katharine on pruning and planting requirements to make this elegant garden a wonderful backdrop for weddings and other visitors to enjoy. There’s also help two days a week from a regular gardener and the estate helps with lawns and hedges.
During the 1970s and 80s, Katharine’s mother-in-law opened the garden for the National Garden Scheme and this month, Katharine is again opening up the gardens for charity. The marquee used for weddings will become a grand afternoon tea tent and there will be plants for sale as well. Dogs are very welcome and the garden is good for wheelchair access.
Blues & whites in the border
Nepeta faassenii ‘Walker’s Low’ Intense blue flowers from May-August. It’s the best flowered Nepeta.
Salvia nemerosa ‘Caradonna’ Tall stems of deepest violet flowers borne on near black stems from May-August.
Geranium ‘Rozanne’ A lovely vibrant plant with large single violet blue flowers and white centres from June-November.
Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Album’ Tall spikes of tiny white flowers from July-September that add height to borders.
Ammi majus Dainty white umbels of white flowers in bloom July-October.
Anemone x hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’ Sprays of large pure-white flowers from August-October. Good for shady spots.