Batcombe House, Batcombe
Mr and Mrs Alexander Russell
Libby Russell is not only a garden designer, but also a serious plantswoman, whose depth of knowledge is worn lightly, but is very evident in her own garden. A semi-formal family garden beside the elegant Georgian house, has soft perennial planting punctuated by yew pyramids at either end of a rectangular lawn. Above this lies the kitchen and cutting garden, which explodes in a mass of Dahlias as summer progresses and, higher again, a swimming pool garden whose pool house is swagged with a highly productive Vitis fragola. The tour de force of this remarkable garden is the amphitheatre behind the house. Here Libby has deliberately echoed the sheep paths on the other side of the valley in the curved grass terraces which descend from wide borders, past an ancient cedar tree to a topiary–filled lawn below.
Yews Farm, Martock
Mr and Mrs Fergus Dowding
Yews Farm is an ancient hall house which Louise and Fergus Dowding bought twenty-five years ago. The garden mirrors their own particular passions: Louise for flowering plants and Fergus for vegetables and fruit, both for topiary. The restrained garden in front of the house is no preparation for the luxuriant planting inside the walls of the garden. Box and yew hedges focus on an ancient pear tree, from which four grass paths radiate across the garden. The structure is softened, not only by Louise’s generous planting of perennials and roses, but also by Fergus’ vegetables, one merging happily with the other. Behind the far wall of the garden is the domain of hens and pigs, living among greenhouses filled with tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. Fergus is a passionate cider maker and the last section of the garden is a large apple orchard, from which cider, apple juice and vinegar is made each year.
Westbrook House, West Bradley
Keith Anderson Esq and David Mendel Esq
Keith is a garden designer and David a painter of both interiors and furniture, so the four-acre garden they have created since 2004 reflects their combined artistic and gardening visions. The garden immediately around the elegant Victorian house is appropriately formal, softened with plants spilling exuberantly over the drive. An almost central vista across the main lawn into the meadow is marked by Pyrus nivalis, rising out of clipped box squares. Borders on either side of the central lawn are similarly generously filled with perennials and summer-flowering shrubs, structured with Osmanthus, Sarcococca and box. Here the mood is very different, wilder and reaching into the surrounding landscape. Mown grass paths focus on established trees, particularly a Copper Beech and Scarlet Oak, spring bulbs in the longer grass are followed by species roses.