The London Magazine, May 2015

English Gardens

5 November 2015

Chic London gardens this year are built along strict geometric lines, and should have some, preferably all, of the following: pale cream limestone paving, horizontal cedar trellis (which fades to fashionable grey in a year or so), square blocks of clipped box punctuating the edges of the beds and walls, slim standard trees set in a row.

Add a narrow rill of water with a broad bronze or steel spout trickling water gently on to its surface, with a flat wooden or stone bridge or geometric stepping stones over the rill. Theatrical side wings can be made from a square-clipped hornbeam hedge on slim trunks and the clean lines of the stone given a touch of woodland informality with the shaggy grass Hakonechloa macra to soften its edges, with the garden trellises clad in Trachelospermum jasminoides – an evergreen climber with white or cream scented flowers. Multi-stemmed shrubs, of Amelanchier lamarckii or Cornus kousa look wonderful when lit, winter or summer.

But the shrub that no selfrespecting London garden should ever be without is Hydrangea arborescens Annabelle, whose huge greenish-white blossoms manage to look bucolic and blowsy, and achingly chic at the same time. “What a winner,” says Marcus Barnett, designer of the Telegraph garden at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. “And it’s a shrub which dies beautifully too,” he adds. The blossoms turn a papery pale buff in autumn and stay on the shrub until torn off by winter winds.