GET THE LOOK
The mix of formality and colour within this Wiltshire plot creates year-round interest
A mix of formality and colour for year-round interest
EvErgrEEns are the backbone of many a great garden and a feature on which Marion Beck refused to compromise when she set to work on her ¾ acre plot more than two decades ago. “I’ve always enjoyed gardening and can often spend all day pottering around. When I came here the garden had things in it that I didn’t like so I was able to get rid of them with a clear conscience,” she confides.
Yew pyramids, box balls and sinuous hedging, together with smooth lawns and carefully selected trees such as Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ and Farges willow, are among the ingredients Marion has used to bring a sense of structure to the gentlywaterfall
“Structure is important. I plant around it to”
sloping plot that surrounds her centuries-old cottage in Wiltshire. As structural elements they provide the perfect backdrop against which she has been able to indulge her passion for colourful, multi-textured perennials and old-fashioned roses.
Linked by a network of pathways the different areas of the garden include a vegetable patch, tranquil pond and and several sweeping vistas, along with peaceful shady areas under the canopies of mature trees. The result is a garden that stands the test of time: a delightful feast of romantic, blowsy borders that are gently restrained by evergreen boundaries; a carefully laid out space that feels natural and uncontrived.
There is no shortage of flowers to deadhead. Fortunately this is something that Marion happily embraces wholeheartedly. “I spend lots of time removing spent blooms in order to ensure the colour keeps coming,” she explains. “I also cut things back, clean up around plants and tie up things like delphiniums when they’re falling over.”
Over the years Marion has taken inspiration from a variety of sources including her friend the late Christopher Lloyd, whose love of colour is still celebrated at Great Dixter in East Sussex, and Sissinghurst. She particularly enjoys finding new and unusual specimens to include in her vibrant planting schemes, while still remaining mindful that the valley in which her garden lies is a frost pocket that can prove lethal to more delicate acquisitions, such as the acers she tried to grow shortly after moving in. A further challenge comes from gardening on green sand, which can become very dry.
“Structure is terribly important but trying out new plants in this garden is a gamble – I put things in and don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s very humbling,” she says. “At the same time, nature is so wonderful: I would never have thought of threading a blue clematis through a cercis but it just happened and really works.
Marion has created a contrast by leaving a shaped area of grass uncut. A circular bed around a Farges willow (Salix fargesii AGM) adds a further geometric dimension
Don’t forget your greens: a well-stocked and attractive vegetable garden can look as beautiful as ornamental borders
Use day lilies, hemerocallis, to add a splash of colour to a border. These trumpet-like blooms are short-lived but keep coming
Raise tree canopies to enjoy the view beyond.
Layer colourful blooms against contrasting foliage for a vibrant display and don’t forget to include spikes, such as the striking mullein Verbascum olympicum, for extra height