Modern designs in Headley
An exciting garden around a contemporary home awaits the visitor to Old Camps in Headley, where the past and
future are both carefully considered says Leigh Clapp
Adam and Heidi Vetere could see enormous potential when they bought the one-acre property in 2007. Attracted by panoramic views of Watership Down from the south-facing slope and intrigued that the house was built on the site of a Roman camp and bath house, they were excited by the prospect; although there was a great deal to be done, and on a tight budget.
“The house wasn’t easy on the eye, but was a great footprint to design from, which allowed us to develop an atrium! The design of the garden evolved from the design of the new house, though I did design new cottage beds in homage to the original house. It was important to keep a link with the past as well as looking into the future,” Adam explains.
The existing garden consisted of a basic knot garden, a vegetable garden, a few cottage
beds and the majority was laid to lawn, as well as a hornbeam hedge that separated the upper and lower gardens that were partly terraced. Adam who originally worked as a landscape designer and contractor before going into financial design has now returned to his passion for designing gardens with the journey in his own garden allowing him to experiment and express his interest in a broad range of styles and concepts.
“My design inspiration comes from my travels to the four corners of the world, visiting gardens and the natural habitat in varying climates from desert to tropical, assimilating garden design ideas, theories and variations on new planting schemes that can be used in future designs,” he adds.
This was Adam’s first large scale site to work on and one of the initial tasks was to get to know the micro-climates in each area of the plot. Working from a plan he initially drew up, the garden has evolved into areas that are linked together to form a cohesive whole, but with plenty of unexpected and exciting ideas and planting to enjoy.
“I like to design gardens that challenge what is naturally
accepted in this country,” he smiles. Visitors will discover traditional herbaceous borders, Mediterranean and desert beds, prairie planting billowing with drifts of echinacea, rudbeckia and ornamental grasses, an exuberant exotic border of cannas and bananas, potted lemons in a sheltered al fresco dining area, as well as a decorative potager with companion planting schemes.
Redesigning with existing plants both kept a reminder of what was there and in turn, helped the couple to stay on budget. An overgrown lilac was pruned to expose the beauty of the twisted and gnarled trunk, and to let the light in underneath. Additional hedging was linked to form backdrops and to create a more protected site, a wall was added to the vegetable garden. The design complements the strong lines of the house as well as vignettes being considered from looking down over the garden from the balcony or with glimpses to draw you through the landscape as you wander.
“For me it’s all about interest leading through the garden onto something else; a voyage through the garden,” Adam adds.
The garden is not all viewed at once, rather openings through plantings or gates entice you on to see what is there. Maturing and bountiful planting abounds, inspiration is in abundance, and underlying it all are Adam’s ideas for sustainable practices to limit the impact on the environment. It is no wonder that the garden was readily accepted by the National Gardens Scheme; and this is their second year of opening.
“I enjoy seeing people smile and the looks on their faces as they walk through the garden. It brings a tear to my eye when I see people enjoying the space. Gardens needs to be good for the soul and mind in today’s fast paced life. A garden really succeeds if it clears the mind and transports you to another place, where your mind can flow and unwind. It should be a real tonic, allowing you to recharge your batteries ready for the next challenge!”
ABOVE: The modern home sits on the site of a Roman camp and bath house
ABOVE RIGHT: Colourful planting in vintage containersRIGHT: It is a lovely journey through the spaces
The garden is a peaceful haven for Heidi and Adam
Companion planting with marigolds