MID­WIN­TER SPARKLE

Country Homes & Interiors - - CONTENTS -

Frost glit­ters and glis­tens across the all-sea­sons, land­scaped lawns of this pic­turesque Suf­folk gar­den, de­signed by Hugo Ni­colle

Even on a cold and frosty morn­ing, Jane dick­ens’ all-sea­sons gar­den, de­signed by Hugo ni­colle, glit­ters and glis­tens with flashes of del­i­cate colour

When Jane and Richard Dick­ens first saw Vic­to­ria House in 2012 it ticked all their boxes. ‘It was a much-loved fam­ily home,’ says Jane. ‘The own­ers had lived there for nearly 50 years and had planted the gar­den with in­ter­est­ing trees and shrubs. As an in­te­rior de­signer, I could see that the house had huge po­ten­tial and that the gar­den of­fered scope for new ideas.’

The Dick­ens spent 18 months con­cen­trat­ing on ren­o­vat­ing the house and plan­ning the gar­den, then be­gan plant­ing and paving in spring 2015. ‘Plants aren’t my spe­cial­ity, so I was de­lighted to find that Hugo Ni­colle, a child­hood friend, lived nearby – and is a gar­den de­signer! I hadn’t seen any of his gar­dens but I knew he had im­pec­ca­ble taste so I in­vited him to help me cre­ate the kind of gar­den that would work for our life­style.’

Jane gave Hugo just two in­struc­tions. ‘I wanted the house to be an­chored to its sur­round­ings, and I told him to avoid red and yel­low flow­ers as I’m not mad about them!’ His so­lu­tion was to en­cir­cle the house with a com­bi­na­tion of York stone slabs and Bel­gian brick pavers; the vari­a­tion in sizes and shades has a soft­en­ing ef­fect. The same hard land­scap­ing is fol­lowed through the var­i­ous gar­den rooms, cre­at­ing an easy flow.

‘We didn’t make rad­i­cal changes to the lay­out of the gar­den,’ ex­plains Jane. ‘The lawns, hedges and vis­tas al­ready ex­isted, so the chal­lenge was to link up the ar­eas and make them in­ter­est­ing, use­ful spa­ces by de­vis­ing a se­ries of rooms.’

The north-fac­ing court­yard ter­race has a for­mal feel, with para­sol-pruned or­na­men­tal pears (Pyrus calleryana ‘Chan­ti­cleer’) un­der­planted with box (Buxus sem­per­virens). In the spring months, borders are filled with tulips in­clud­ing ‘Queen of the

Night’, while in sum­mer the colour scheme is pinks and pur­ples, fea­tur­ing pur­ple sage (Salvia of­fic­i­nalis ‘Pur­purea’),

As­tran­tia ma­jor ‘Claret’ and Gera­nium ‘Suzanne’.

An arch in the wall gives a view into Rosie’s Gar­den, a scented area named after Jane’s mother. Rosa ‘Mor­timer Sack­ler’ and the honey­suckle ‘Gra­ham Thomas’ fill the air with their per­fume.

An Acer pal­ma­tum ‘Osakazuki’ fills a cor­ner of the court­yard ter­race and the foun­tain gar­den can be glimpsed through a screen of pleached crab ap­ples. The cir­cu­lar shape of the Al­li­son Ar­mour glass ball wa­ter fea­ture is echoed in the gi­ant box balls sur­round­ing it. The swim­ming pool gar­den has gen­er­ous sum­mer borders with lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina ‘Big

Ears’), aga­pan­thus and Ver­bena bonar­ien­sis.

Even in the depths of win­ter, the gar­den has colour and shape.

Rosa ‘Bon­ica’ de­fies the frost, its pink flow­ers like ic­ing-sugar cake dec­o­ra­tions. In the walled gar­den, the leaves of Per­sian iron­wood (Par­ro­tia per­sica) hang like golden discs in the thin Novem­ber sun. The dogwood (Cor­nus con­tro­versa ‘Var­ie­gata’) is trans­formed into tan­gled macramé by the frost.

Ner­ines along the wall at the front of the house are droop­ing in the cold, but the pale lime leaves of the glo­ri­ous corkscrew hazel (Co­ry­lus avel­lana ‘Con­torta’) catch the early morn­ing light. In the swim­ming pool gar­den, the bold shapes of Ir­ish yew, Mediter­ranean spurge (Eu­phor­bia wulfenii) and Hakonechloa

macra grasses are out­lined by frost against an old brick wall. ‘I love the gar­den through all the sea­sons,’ says Jane, ‘but in the depths of win­ter, sparkling frost gives it a spe­cial magic.’

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The clean lines of low Buxus hedges work well with the Re­gency-style house.

Newly planted Carpi­nus be­tu­lus pro­vides au­tumn colour in the swim­ming pool gar­den.

Old stone stat­ues rep­re­sent­ing win­ter on the left and sum­mer on right frame a wooden bench.

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