Work in progress
Tommaso and Paul describe their country garden as a work in progress. “It is important to think about your garden as a whole from very early on – how you will use it and where you want to go with it. Having a plan helps you avoid making big mistakes,” says Tommaso. “But once you have that in place, it doesn’t matter how long you take to complete it. And don’t feel too married to your drawings. Be prepared to adapt. Things grow in sunny places that in time become shady. Plants grow too large for the space available. You must always be prepared to reconsider. Some trees and shrubs are important for structure, but these mature slowly. You also need more ephemeral plants to get a garden started. These include things such as erysimum, which offer quick rewards but don’t last for too long. You enjoy them for a couple of years, then say goodbye.”
red brick, which was also used to create a step up from the lane outside. The gap through which cars used to trundle up the drive was filled with yew hedging, and a gate, set at right angles to one side, creates an offset entrance that conceals the house.
Within these green walls, the garden is positively bucolic. “Please don’t call it a cottage garden,” says Tommaso. “I think of it as relaxed.” This is apparent the minute you set foot on the basket-weave brick and gravel front path, edged on the right by a sea of lavender and on the left by a cheerful jumble of alchemilla, roses, hardy geraniums and fragrant ‘Jane Phillips’ iris. Fennel, valerian and alchemilla have seeded into the gravel with gay abandon.
The bell pull is hidden behind a swaying clump of Verbena bonariensis and the rich terracotta walls are garlanded in vintage-pink ‘Albertine’ roses. Centranthus, catmint and Knautia macedonica foam in frothy profusion around the house, anchored by three vast balls of clipped box, which impose just the right degree of order on the chaos. The overall impression is of warmth, welcome and joyful prettiness. There is a small productive garden outside the kitchen, but it proved difficult to grow vegetables properly when the pair could only make infrequent visits, so the timber-edged beds now contain herbs, f lowers for cutting, and a few tomatoes, raspberries and alpine strawberries.
The rear of the garden is defined by a simple green hedge that follows a serpentine path around a lawn that’s more clover than grass, studded with young apple and walnut trees. In the middle a weathered bench veiled in tall grass sits in the shade of a large sycamore. “This is not a beautiful tree, but it has an age and a presence that this garden needs just now,” says Tommaso. It is an unexpected compromise from the leading design practice of del Buono Gazerwitz, but this whole garden is completely unexpected too. USEFUL INFORMATION Find out more about Tommaso and Paul’s work at delbuono-gazerwitz.co.uk
The cool, calm rear garden relies for its impact on a sinuous line of hedging, which runs up the slope away from the house to a wildflower meadow that blends with the woodland beyond.