Green is the new black

An haute cou­ture de­signer’s gar­den will out­live any cat­walk fash­ion

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Life Gardening -

What hap­pens to a per­fect gar­den when its cre­ator dies? Some gar­den­ers are lucky enough to have sym­pa­thetic heirs to in­herit their pas­sion, while oth­ers plan ahead and set up trusts to pro­tect their cre­ations. The rest of us just ac­cept that gar­dens grow and change, and leave our plots in the lap of the gods. One gar­den in Suf­folk that I have al­ways ad­mired is about to be sold. I would like to take one last lov­ing look at it so that I can re­mem­ber it – and its owner – at their best. My friend, Jorn Lang­berg, the Dan­ish-born de­signer for Chris­tian Dior dur­ing the Six­ties and Seven­ties, died a few weeks ago. Af­ter his re­tire­ment from haute cou­ture, his house, near Bury St Ed­munds, be­came the venue for his an­nual Art et Jardin ex­hi­bi­tions, where he swapped dress­ing duchesses and debu­tantes for show­cas­ing paint­ings in his stu­dio and sculp­ture in his gar­den. Like an oa­sis in its prairie land­scape, fringed with a thick boundary of indige­nous hedges, it is im­pos­si­ble to guess what lies be­yond the im­pres­sive gates de­signed by Ge­orge Carter. Once in­side, you see in­stantly that, de­spite its set­ting, this is not a typ­i­cal English gar­den, nor was its owner a typ­i­cal res­i­dent of this re­mote Suf­folk vil­lage. The style and el­e­gance that Jorn prac­tised at Chris­tian Dior are ev­i­dent through­out, as are his Dan­ish roots. The rough or­chard sur­round­ing three cot­tages, with slip­ping thatched roofs, was bought in 1966, and he first asked de­signer Gil­lian Bower, then Paul Miles and then Jan King to turn his ideas into re­al­ity. As a cou­turier who did not sew, Jorn al­ways ad­mit­ted he wasn’t a hands-on gar­dener, but a pa­tron of ar­chi­tects, crafts­peo­ple and de­sign­ers. He be­lieved in the in­put of the specialist, and ad­mit­ted that their in­ter­pre­ta­tion of his ideas al­ways added “an el­e­ment of sur­prise that I find pleas­ing”. Sur­rounded by high yew hedges, the for­mal herb gar­dens are di­vided by plump box edg­ing to house herbs for the kitchen. We tried oc­ca­sion­ally to fill them with veg­eta­bles, but the box was too greedy and the ar­ti­chokes, cab­bages and leeks did not thrive in the thin soil. Mov­ing through the gar­den rooms, past the parter­res to the heav­ily thatched house, but­tressed with top­i­ary shapes (in­clud­ing his fa­mous Dan­ish pastry hedge – a swirling clipped whirl), one ar­rives through a yew arch into the Rose Gar­dens, over­looked by an ex­otic folly de­signed by ar­chi­tect Anthony Matthes. It’s home to beds of con­tro­ver­sial pink ‘An­niver­sary’ roses (prac­ti­cally the only colour to be found in an es­sen­tially green gar­den), fi­nally ripped out on the ad­vice of de­signer Ara­bella Len­nox-Boyd. the house; and pierc­ing a boundary wall is a Matisse-es­que open win­dow fram­ing an English bor­rowed view of the fields be­yond. In the ter­ra­cotta walled court­yard gar­den, planned so that news­pa­pers could be read with­out the wind ruf­fling their pages, the plant­ing of royal blue cer­atostigma, del­phini­ums and cean­othus around three lead foun­tains, was in­spired by a visit to the Tivoli gar­dens. The gar­den was de­signed to be at its best in late Septem­ber, in time for each au­tumn’s art ex­hi­bi­tion – Jorn’s an­nual collection – as a back­drop to his artists’ work. He mar­shalled his gar­den­ers and vendeuses to wel­come his clients with leg­endary charm and, The far end of the gar­den is dom­i­nated by a nat­u­ral pond, de­vel­oped into lush wa­ter gar­dens fringed with irises, rodger­sia, grasses and gi­ant gun­nera that dwarf the tiny bridge. The plant­ing here is un­re­stricted, in con­trast to the rest of the gar­den, which is clipped and con­trolled. Trips to Paris in­spired a pleached horn­beam hedge with a lower step-over hedge at its base be­hind ... thin­ning my goose­ber­ries and us­ing the berries in the kitchen. The rest will grow big and fat, and sweet enough to eat straight off the bush. as al­ways, the gar­den it­self stole the show. He said: “What I love about gar­dens is there is never a dull mo­ment – fash­ions change and sea­sons change. Gar­den de­sign is the new high fash­ion.” Hill­wa­ter­ing at Langham near Bury St Ed­munds is for sale with Bed­fords. For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion, con­tact James Bed­ford on 01284 769999 or visit www.bed­ Jorn Lang­berg’s as­sis­tant, Josephine Harpur, car­ries on ex­hibit­ing art with a show at the Alde­burgh Gallery from this Thurs­day. The char­ity Peren­nial is cel­e­brat­ing its 175th year of of­fer­ing ad­vice to those work­ing in or re­tired from the hor­ti­cul­tural in­dus­try. This is the only UK char­ity that sup­ports, helps and trains those who care for the gar­dens we love – www.peren­

Oa­sis: Dan­ish-born Jorn Lang­berg’s thatched house, clipped hedges and folly, left

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