By Sue Bradley
For centuries, Entry Hill served as the main route between the heart of Bath and the South West of England, with Roman to Georgian visitors seeking to benefit from the city’s famous mineral waters.
The houses that line it serve as a reminder of its past importance – not least Stone Lea Cottage with its proud castellated parapet. Built from Bath stone, this Grade II-listed end-of-terrace property dates back to the early 19th century.
When Nyla Abraham and her husband Paul Sadler moved in during 2013, the garden stretching out behind it, however, was far from proud.
See: Garden ideas – inspiration and ideas for outdoor spaces
Find out what they discovered when they cut back overgrown shrubs...
The hand of the owner responsible for the castellated parapet on the house can also be seen in the turret-like outhouses in the corners of the garden. But when Nyla and Paul moved in, these intriguing little buildings were hidden from view.
‘The garden had become pretty overgrown by the time we moved in and the little turrets came to light as we cut back shrubs. But the buildings weren’t in the best state of repair and Paul had to do quite a lot of work on them before they could be used,' says Nyla.
They are now an essential part of the garden, with one used for storage and the other fitted with a reclaimed sash window and used as a potting shed.
See: Shed ideas – create an outdoor oasis with these smart storage solutions
The couple’s efforts to prune back shrubs, such as spirea and laurel, also revealed four apple trees, all of which had stood for many decades. These created breathing space around a mature magnolia that had effectively sealed the deal when the couple were house-hunting.
‘The magnolia was one of the reasons why we bought this place,’ laughs Nyla. ‘It’s so lovely in spring.’
Today their garden in Bath is the perfect place to eat and relax, grow fruit and vegetables, and keep a small flock of Pekin bantams.
‘This was our first garden, and we didn’t have a plan for it, but found ourselves getting excited about plants,’ says Nyla.
‘After a couple of years, we started to consider its design and think about ways we could introduce a bit of privacy, and eventually we split the garden into three parts.’
See: Kitchen garden ideas – easy ways to get started
The section furthest from the house is also the sunniest, making it the perfect spot for growing fruit and vegetables, including figs.
Once an old shed that obscured one of the turrets had been removed, Paul set about building a series of easy-to-maintain raised beds, edged with old pieces of stone found around the garden.
See: Planning a kitchen garden - from designing a layout to picking plants
At the same time, attractive, galvanised metal items, such as water tanks, dustbins and even a hip bath, have been repurposed as deep containers for plants.
‘I love my quirky containers and having the satisfaction of taking something that is no longer fit for its original purpose and using it for something else,’ says Nyla.
Paul’s carpentry skills have been put to good use in the creation of a garden shelter with a shingle roof, from which Nyla loves to hang bunting.
See: Pergola ideas – wonderful ways a pergola will add shade, privacy and style your backyard
He also built a curved moon gate that divides the lawn from a ‘secret garden’ at the back, along with a potting bench incorporating an old kitchen sink and row of compost heaps.
The middle section of the garden has retained many of the shrubs that were in place back in 2013, although pruned to a much more manageable condition.
These are combined with a relaxed, wildlife-rich area beneath a variety of trees, including Victoria plum, quince, crab apple, a weeping birch and hawthorn.
Planted around these are perennials such as nepeta, knautia, penstemon and salvia. A sheltered section is inspired by holidays to Cornwall, with crocosmia, kniphofia and a Chilean myrtle tree providing rich color in September.
The lawned area near the house is surrounded by roses, with Michaelmas daisies providing interest later in the year. Here, there is plenty of room for the bantams to forage and enjoy dust baths, with one section of the grass left a little longer to encourage clover and other wild flowers.
Along the side of the house is a shady spot that is home to ferns, while a ‘theatre’ for displaying succulents has been created from a cold frame fitted with shelves.
The gravelled area by the conservatory is the perfect spot for al fresco breakfasts, surrounded by potted plants. An old wooden barrel creates an attractive water butt and a stand for the display of rockery plants.
See: Cottage patio ideas – create a pretty spot for relaxing and entertaining
Seating areas have been created at every opportunity so that they can enjoy the simple pleasure of being outside in the fresh air, watching wildlife and feeling miles away from the busy city centre close-by.
A metal table and chairs is carefully positioned on the gravel area outside the house to make the most of the perfume of a climbing rose, while an outdoor clock ensures they don’t lose track of time.
Collecting interesting objects has long been a passion for Nyla and Paul, whose garden provides a home for an assortment of finds, ranging from tea pots filled with plants, to decorative metal objects suspended from brackets.
The couple’s move to Bath has given an unexpected outlet for their creative energies and an endless source of joy.
‘The more we’ve got into gardening, the more we’ve wanted to learn about it,’ says Nyla.
‘When we first moved here we were thrilled to have a garden to make our own, but we never dreamed just how important a part it would go on to play in our lives.’
This garden is taken from H&G's sister brand, Period Living magazine.
Subscribe to Period Living for more inspiration. A subscription provides you with all you need to know about caring for and improving a traditional house and garden.
Basement stair ideas – 10 inspirational decor and design solutions
These basement stair ideas will transform neglected circulation space into a beautiful feature
By Sarah Warwick •
These 4 gardens were awarded gold at Chelsea Flower Show – and they have one feature in common
Chelsea Flower Show has announced its gold winners – and the Best in Show Garden. But what does it take to win gold at the celebrated festival?
By Megan Slack •
How to prune wisteria – and the best time to do it
Learn how to prune wisteria for a healthier plant with maximum blooms
By Melanie Griffiths •
How to prune clematis – everything you need to know for beautiful blooms
Discover how to prune clematis to ensure a beautiful flush of blooms every year
By Holly Reaney •
How to prune azaleas – and when to leave them alone
Find out when and how to prune azaleas to enjoy the best from these colorful flowering shrubs
By Rachel Crow •
How to prune a lemon tree
Learn how to prune a lemon tree to maximize fruit production and keep the plant in good shape
By Melanie Griffiths •
How to prune basil – and the best time to do it
Find out how to prune basil plants the right way for healthy, bushy plants that last longer
By Rachel Crow •
How to prune raspberries
Learn how to prune summer and autumn fruiting raspberries to ensure a bumper crop
By Pippa Blenkinsop •
How to prune lilac
Discover how to prune lilac to keep it look great and flowering every year
By Holly Reaney •
How to prune an apple tree – and when to do it
Keep apple trees in great shape to improve your harvest. Find out how to prune an apple tree with advice from experts
By Karen Darlow •