The New English Garden - in pictures
The New English Garden is a new book surveying the most significant gardens in England today. Below is a selection of some of the 25 gardens picked by garden writer and historian Tim Richardson. Photographs by Andrew Lawson
The hot borders at Packwood House, Warwickshire, designed by Mick Evans.Photograph: Andrew Lawson
The grass garden at Bury Court in Hampshire, designed by Christopher Bradley-Hole.Photograph: Andrew Lawson
James Alexander-Sinclair's terrace borders at Cottesbrooke Hall in Northamptonshire. Photograph: Andrew Lawson
The walled garden at Scampston Hall, Yorkshire, designed by Piet Oudolf.Photograph: Andrew Lawson
The lower parterre at Trentham near Stoke-on-Trent in autumn, with Piet Oudolf's flanking plantings in the foreground and Tom Stuart-Smith's beyond. Photograph: Andrew Lawson
Redesigning gardens: when old favourites become new again
Timeless English gardens are always changing, says author Tim Richardson.
By Tim Richardson7:00AM BST 20 Sep 2013/ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/gardenstovisit/10319694/Redesigning-gardens-when-old-favourites-become-new-again.html
Entitling a book The New English Garden (my latest) was always going to be somewhat controversial. But I stand by the premise that all 25 gardens in it have been "made or remade" over the past 10 to 15 years. Gardens naturally regenerate themselves, of course, and gardening is a notoriously and gloriously unstable practice.
Which is not to say everything has to be swept away in order for "newness" to reign. An established structure, especially hedges and old brick walls, is gold dust to any garden maker. Great Dixter is perhaps the best example; Christopher Lloyd always insisted on recognition of the topiary and hedge system his father installed with help from Edwin Lutyens, and which provided the frame for his own horticultural exploits.
Some of the most fascinating elements of the gardens I selected are features retained from a previous era, remodelled to suit the tone of the new garden.
The 'Italian' sunken garden
This classic Arts and Crafts feature from the early 20th century can be found at scores of English gardens, often in a slightly dilapidated state. In its heyday the sunken garden was a glamorous spot for whiling away the pre-dinner hour with a cocktail. Today's gardeners have been exploring the horticultural possibilities of the space. At Packwood in Warwickshire, the sunken garden has been given a new identity with dramatic Mediterranean and South African exotic-themed plantings – kniphofias, euphorbias, eryngiums and succulent echeverias and sedums. Poppies and white verbascums dotted about complement the unbuttoned feel of what was originally conceived as a romantic but "formal" feature.
Dan Pearson has taken a similarly irreverent approach at Armscote Manor in Oxfordshire, where an enclosed Twenties sunken pool garden is now pleasingly overrun by Rosa rugosa, reinforced by the more delicate varieties 'Roseraie de l'Hay' and 'Blanc de Blanc'. Purple and white verbascums surge between them and balls of clipped evergreens in informal groups add a different note, reinstating a sense of structure while also undermining the original fearful symmetry.
The herbaceous border
The prime showcase of the gardener's art throughout the 20th century has gone through a sea-change over the past 15 years, as naturalistic planting styles have become more popular.
At a garden such as Cottesbrooke in Northamptonshire, the main double border exhibits none of the "pictorial" qualities of the classic Arts and Crafts border, with a beginning, middle and end, and perhaps even a clear development in terms of colour. Instead, James Alexander-Sinclair offers a more immersive experience, with multiple repeat plantings of tall perennials including sanguisorba and white corncockles threading through. Tom Stuart-Smith aims for something similar in his gardens, such as Mount St John in Yorkshire, or the revamped Trentham in Staffordshire, where favoured plants include thalictrum, phlomis, eremurus, eupatorium and veronicastrum (you know you are in a modern garden if you spy lots of these). He likes to think of his gardens as a continuum, surging and receding like music.
The rock garden
The rock garden has fallen from favour in recent years. The idea of a mountainside in suburbia evidently proved too kitschy even for English sensibilities. But there is life in alpine or rock gardening because the plants are so beautiful.
Keith Wiley was the moving spirit behind the acclaimed Garden House at Buckland Monachorum in Devon for many years, and in 2004 began his own garden, Wildside, just down the lane. His energy and ambition are extraordinary, the new garden consisting of several acres which he first reformed by extensive use of a mini-digger, very much in the mountain-moving spirit of Edwardian rock gardening.
The resultant ridges, berms and pool areas create a good habitat for many of his favourite plants, which he has arrayed naturalistically in swathes and large unruly groupings. Troops of kniphofias, crocosmia and agapanthus provide a flavour of the Cape while erythroniums, asters and eragrostis grasses drift on through unhindered. Rock on, Keith!
Growing "edibles" (as young gardeners now like to dub vegetables) is all the rage of course, but at larger properties it is now all but impossible for owners to keep a garden in High Victorian style. There are a handful of astonishing exceptions, notably West Dean in Sussex, but many owners choose to update the look of the traditional walled garden. One fine example is Daylesford Manor in Gloucestershire, where Rupert Golby's floral interventions, jaunty topiaries and clever fruit supports in woven hazel and willow create an atmosphere of fun-loving fecundity. This is a large scale kitchen garden which nevertheless feels like a garden in its own right, not a service area.
Piet Oudolf pushes the idea even farther at Scampston Hall in Yorkshire, where he has turned the old walled garden into a compartmented extravaganza, with his trademark perennials-and-grasses plantings at the heart of it all. Flower colour is by no means anathema in old kitchen gardens, of course, since up to a quarter of the space would traditionally have been used for growing flowers for the house.
'The New English Garden' by Tim Richardson (Frances Lincoln, £40), is available from Telegraph Books (0844 871 1514) at £36 + £1.35 p&p.