Looking back to a sunny day in June – Tom Stuart-Smith

4 Feb

At this time of year I need to leaf back through places I’ve visited during the summer months to keep me inspired and motivated – this garden is certainly one that I had dreamed of visiting for many years and wont forget in a hurry !

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If anyone ever asks me which garden designers I admire, Tom Stuart-Smith is my instant answer every time ! He manages to combine gardens full of sprawling perennials, with just the right amount of structure and throw in some amazing colour combinations all at the same time. Its a very relaxed look – certainly not for everyone – and is not as low maintenance as it might seem. But by understanding his plants and how he can get an extended season by picking varieties with great seed heads and that ‘die well’, he can produce the most amazing spaces.His trademark verticals – Italian cypress or beech columns catch the eye and break up the sea of perennials and of course add great structure in the winter.

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Tom Stuart-Smith has created several great gardens in the UK as well as being a Chelsea regular. His best known gardens in this country are Trentham Gardens in Staffordshire, a new garden space in an existing parkland ( also alongside a wonderful Piet Oudolf garden ) and Broughton Grange in Oxfordshire. But these photos are from his own private garden in Hertfordshire. He lives in a converted barn which has given him several distinct areas – a sheltered courtyard ( as shown in photos above ) , more traditional lawn and herbaceous borders ( below) and amazing wild flower meadows. Also in development when we visited was a prairie style area.

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The wildflower meadow was fabulous, topped off by the poppies flowering in neighbouring fields – I assume he hadn’t planted those !

Again wild flower meadows are not as effortless as they look but if I ever own a small paddock I shall definitely try to recreate this.

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Unfortunately Tom’s garden is only open to the public infrequently – I guess he is busy sorting other peoples gardens out most of the time ! its is next open 22/6/14 as part of the NGS open garden scheme. I can really recommend a visit.

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