Am­a­teur Gar­den of the Year - 43 The Rid­ings

Kent Life - - Countryside Life -

Home to charm­ing and pas­sion­ate gar­den­ers, Sylvie Buat-Me­nard and David Sayers who have de­signed, planted and lov­ingly care for their plot in Ch­est­field with clear en­thu­si­asm; the gar­den, de­vel­oped over 10 years, is a haven of colour and tex­ture within a new-build hous­ing es­tate.

The jour­ney for Sylvie in par­tic­u­lar is in­spi­ra­tional as she is a con­vert to the joys of gar­den­ing since be­com­ing en­grossed in the process of cre­at­ing a nat­u­ral haven.

“I came to gar­den­ing in my early for­ties, David and I moved to a listed house in Can­ter­bury with a tiny court­yard. He loved gar­dens and flow­ers and I did not. I told him never to take me to a gar­den cen­tre and now I can’t stay away from them!

“The gar­den is my bit of par­adise on earth, I go out there in all sea­sons and be­fore I know it three hours have gone by. It is very sooth­ing and ther­a­peu­tic and there are a lot of seat­ing ar­eas, but we do not sit as of­ten as we should. Our gar­den is a unique cre­ation un­der­taken with love and pas­sion. I could not live with­out it, which is quite strange for a Parisian girl raised in a flat.”

Planted with more than 1,000 dif­fer­ent plants, some of which came from the many pots in their for­mer Can­ter­bury court­yard, the gar­den is in two parts.

The front area is in­spired by Beth Chatto’s dry gar­den with plants that take drought and are also but­ter­fly and bee friendly, while the back gar­den is a tran­quil, se­cluded lifestyle space with a small oval lawn and pretty bor­ders in dap­pled shade from some lovely trees. Along with din­ing and seat­ing ar­eas, there is a de­light­ful sum­mer­house in the left cor­ner and a wa­ter fea­ture to pro­vide sound when sit­ting on a bench with a cup of tea. Both sec­tions are densely planted and dis­play won­der­ful plants­man­ship with plants cho­sen to suit each mi­cro-cli­mate.

Knowl­edge is gained from hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence, be­long­ing to sev­eral lo­cal so­ci­eties, in­clud­ing Hardy Plants, Alpine and the Whit­stable Hor­ti­cul­tural So­ci­ety, and also spend­ing week­ends and hol­i­days tour­ing gar­dens and sourc­ing new plants.

“We have de­rived a lot of plea­sure from shar­ing the gar­den with oth­ers and we have found that vis­it­ing other gar­dens has in­spired us greatly. Gar­den­ers are very gen­er­ous with their plants and time and are al­ways happy to give use­ful tips,” says Sylvie.

43 The Rid­ings, Ch­est­field, Whit­stable, CT5 3QE

Opens through the Na­tional Gar­den Scheme, www.ngs.org.uk

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