Amateur Garden of the Year - 43 The Ridings
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