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Wondering down a mown pathway, with the dappled shade from many trees dancing on either side, I gaze ahead to see the reflections on a lake drawing me on.

I breathe in and turn right and step into a grove of wild cherry, Prunus avium, planted in a large square formation grid. The design, so regimented amongst the naturalistic planting, gives this grove so much sense of place. All around me tall pale tree trunks reach up to the sky, they look like pillars. The canopies above flutter and play with the light. It feels powerful and emotive, I am standing in natures church, happily worshipping its beauty.

I have been visiting Bryan’s ground for four years, each year I am delighted by its design and amazed at how quickly the garden is maturing in the rich loam of Herefordshire.

The house, owned by David Wheeler and Simon Dorrell, lies near Presteigne on the border between England and Wales and was built between 1911 and 1913. The gardens are home to 20 garden rooms, a rose garden, topiary, box pareterres, follies, long hedges, a ha-ha, a potager, a lake, a river and a thriving arboretum with long mown paths. It is a dream come true garden.

The planting is wonderful, sometimes colour themed, often very formal, at times very wild.

At the entrance, by the house, beautiful fruit trees line the scallop edged canal, they are underplanted with squares of 4ft-high Iris sibirica. If you come between mid May and early June you are greeted by thousands of these mass planted Iris in dazzling blue full bloom.

Full of anticipation, one flows from one garden room to the next, drawn on by the next peek of an urn, a gap in the hedges, or a jaunty building. It never disappoints, there is something special round every corner and down every path. The carefully curated vistas anchor the garden to the surrounding landscape and make you stop, gaze and wonder how you might be able to make it so you could stay here forever.

 

Bryan’s Ground, Stapleton (Nr Presteigne), Herefordshire (01544 260001;www.bryansground.co.uk). It will open again next spring to the public.

David Wheeler and Simon Dorrell are editors of Hortus magazine, a collection of essays and notes on horticulture. http://www.hortus.co.uk/

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The grid, Bryan’s Ground © Cat Howard

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Mown pathways, Bryan’s Ground © Cat Howard

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The canal, Bryan’s Ground © Cat Howard

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The house at Bryan’s Ground © Cat Howard

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The wonderful planting, Bryan’s Ground © Cat Howard

 

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This period property which is based in the Primrose Hill conservation area, was built in the mid 1800’s. Part of Chalcot Square, it had a long, overgrown and rather dense garden.

The build was completed in the summer of 2014, the original London yellow brick garden walls were freed from a heavy blanket of dark Ivy. Smooth modern cut sandstone paving adds a level of refinement to the patio area around the house and a lower level parterre is paved with coarse red brick and ornate edging. At night the garden is lit, offering views which extend the feeling of space from the house.

The planting consists of gravel beds with relaxed perennials in shades of pink, blue and white. These are set off by edges of formal clipped box, which add formality and balance the design. Climbers were chosen to creep over the walls and will give off heady scents all year round.

The new terrace is designed for entertaining and the seating area offers a place to relax and look out towards the garden. Beautiful large jars and sculptures decorate the garden and draw the eye through it.

Primrose Hill garden

Primrose Hill garden

Beautiful Astrantia and  Stipa Tenuissima grass, planted in gravel. Primrose Hill garden

Beautiful Astrantia and Stipa Tenuissima grass, planted in gravel.
Primrose Hill garden

Primrose Hill garden

Primrose Hill garden

Primrose Hill garden

Primrose Hill garden

Primrose Hill garden

Primrose Hill garden

Primrose Hill garden

Primrose Hill garden

Astrantia and  Stipa Tenuissima. Primrose Hill garden

Astrantia and Stipa Tenuissima. Primrose Hill garden

Colours

Colours

I have been away for a while, pondering life, designing my website, enjoying friends and designing gardens. Upon graduating from Inchbald with a Postgraduate Diploma, Andrew Duff asked me to be one of the studio tutors, I was delighted and continue to enjoy this very satisfying and educational role. I feel very lucky after a year of studies to finally be realising a dream; designing gardens has long been of interest to me and has so far proved to be a wonderful, worthwhile and rewarding vocation.

The website is up and running now, cathoward.co.uk. You will see that I have recently built my first garden. The space will be photographed professionally next spring when the plants are a bit more established. It is beautifully lit at night, has a lovely relaxed feel to it, the clients love it and I can’t wait to visit them again next spring to see it in evolution.

Currently I am working on some planting plans for a beautiful Welsh country garden and a town garden in Battersea.

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