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Period charm in a small space

By (now retired) Garden Designer Valerie Thorning. This narrow strip of land is the rear garden of a timber-framed period property situated with one side adjacent to the main street. 

The house has large garden areas to the other side and to the front, but the area at the rear is just 3.5m wide and is shaded by neighbouring trees.

Despite its size and unpromising growing conditions, this area is a significant part of the garden because it is overlooked from the main reception rooms and is viewed from the main seating area in the garden. The clients wanted an attractive garden in a traditional style to suit the property, but also to accommodate the unusual and contemporary garden ornament.

Oaks garden

Straight edges and circles were used to create a formal feel, with box and yew edging and topiary, softened with shade tolerant herbaceous plants. Focal points were created to be seen from the windows - two standard variegated hollies, with the ornament located within a circle highlighted by variegated box balls.

The plants are still immature, the photos having been taken on the day of completion, but the structure can clearly be seen. The fences will eventually be softened with planting - Pyracantha 'Mohave' (Firethorn) on the far end, Ivy and Pileostegia along the side.

Among the plants which can be seen (from the front, left border)
Buxus sempervirens spiral and edging Dicentra spectabilis, Polystichium polyblepherum (evergreen fern), Phyllitis scolopendrium (Hart's tongue fern) and Heleborus nigra (Christmas rose leaves)

In the right-hand border, behind the Buxus edging - Ilex 'Golden King' standard (variegated holly) and Oaks gardenHeuchera 'Palace Purple'.

Hydrangea 'Mme Emile Moulliere' is planted beneath the dining room window, and seasonal plants in pots will be situated on the gravel area surrounding the old millstone, rescued from another part of the garden.