Structure is an integral part of Wyken Hall’s design, which for Sir Kenneth means varied hedging
“We have a lot of hedges at Wyken Hall and they do add greatly to the year-round structure of the gardens. I find the greatest challenge is to stop them getting too big. In particular, they can get very wide before you have really noticed. It is, of course, important to select plants suited to your site. We have a hornbeam avenue underplanted with Teucrium x lucidrys (a very good plant to use if you have suffered from box blight), which is based on one at the National Trust garden in Hidcote, Gloucestershire, that I always rather coveted. Fortunately, hornbeam does very well on our heavy soil. It went in around 2000, to give us a vista from the house down to the Red Hot Border, and grows so vigorously that we cut it twice a year, first in June and again in October.
“I always advise people that yew makes the best hedge, but we also have a maze that was planted in copper beech. When half the beech died, we replaced it with hornbeam, which makes a nice mixture. My mother used to love making mazes – she would draw them in the sand on the beach for us when we were children – and she designed this one just before she died, so we made it in her memory.”
Sir Kenneth has used structural planting and topiary in places, including this avenue of pleached hornbeams underplanted with Teucrium x lucidrys.