5. Hertfordshire – Tuesday 16 June

Serge Hill Tour 5

Serge Hill

The Barn, Serge Hill, Bedmond
Sue and Tom Stuart-Smith

Not surprisingly, the garden at The Barn continues to develop and expand. The courtyard in front of the house has water tanks from a Chelsea Flower Show garden, the mellow rust of the tanks complementing the colour of the roof tiles, and the surrounding rusty and purple flowers of Tom Stuart-Smith’s trademark perennials: Salvias, Euphorbia, Eryngiums and Sedums. Behind the house, the main part of the garden is divided by an imposing long vista of double borders punctuated by tall hornbeam hedges. Thick plantings of Maclayeas, Achilleas, white Epilobium and grasses are followed by refreshingly empty spaces contained within the hedges, drawing the eye out to the rolling hills beyond. On the other side of the house, a large space, through which grass paths meander, is densely filled with Asters, Rudbeckias, Dianthus, Eryngiums and a mass of other perennials flowering throughout the summer.

Serge Hill, Bedmond
Kate Stuart-Smith

Serge Hill is a charming white Regency building, with a glass-roofed veranda which gives it a distinctly maritime air. This is where two generations of Stuart-Smiths have gardened and where Kate Stuart-Smith is now in charge. Tom and his parents planted the old drive with rhododendrons for early summer and the lawn in front of the house gives a view of gently rolling parkland. Kate, Ed and a constantly changing team of WWOOFers, spend most of their time in the old walled garden, where the walls are festooned with climbers and arches covered in roses and clematis. The beautiful greenhouse bursts with seedlings, cuttings, tomatoes and peppers and looks over the orderly vegetables towards a delicious chaos of perennials beyond. With a  final flourish a long, mainly shrub, border outside the walled garden returns towards the house.

Pie Corner, Bedmond
Jeremy and Bella Stuart-Smith

The garden around this remarkable modern house was created by Bella Stuart-Smith, a garden designer and plantswoman, with much help from the family. The house sits in a shallow valley looking out across a terrace and lawn into the parkland beyond. On one side of the house a series of hedge-enclosed formal spaces with mixed perennial and shrub planting, cleverly merges into the boundary of trees on the bank rising above the house. Clouds of box conceal the swimming pool and the eye is drawn towards topiary-flanked steps that lead up the bank. On the other side of the house this formality is matched, but softened in anticipation of the informal planting of the woodland garden beyond. An arch covered with the long-flowering rose ‘Blush Noisette’ leads into a vegetable garden which balances, across the main lawn, an enclosure for chickens shaded by cherry trees.