By Rachel Crow
This dreamy walled garden might be set within 18th century bones, but it is young at heart, created from a blank canvas in just 13 years by its owners, Tom and Jennifer Williams.
Enjoying stunning views of the Clwydian Range in north east Wales, the garden mixes romantic, cottage-style planting against formal structure.
Undaunted by what was an overgrown field when they took on the property in 2008, Tom and Jennifer have transformed the garden into a romantic delight.
See: Cottage garden ideas – charming cottage garden plants and design tips
Along with the one-acre walled garden, is an acre around the house, which was built in 1770 and was the former laundry and dairy for Llanrhaeadr Hall, once Tom's ancestral home. Following a sensitive renovation, The Laundry has been converted to provide holiday accommodation.
Both avid gardeners, Tom and Jennifer’s garden design at The Laundry is the first garden they have created together.
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While Tom plays with the shapes and structure of hard landscaping, hedging and lawns, Jennifer takes a painterly approach with the smaller perennials and harmonious infill.
The house garden includes a terrace seating spot with a small box parterre and roses clambering up the walls, as well as two mainly oval lawns bisected with a path and beech hedges.
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The garden spreads across just over three acres, with the area by the house, a walled garden and then woodland. The division in areas was dictated by the site and the boundaries, especially the existing walls, which date back to around 1770.
In the house garden, an attractive Victorian style gazebo draws the eye along the informal herbaceous border that is billowing with fragrant lavender, Hesperis matronalis var. albiflora, Iris sibirica and Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula, while the pink of Rosa ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ stands out among a sea of white.
Lending a sense of whimsy are self-seeded spires of digitalis, happily popping up in the borders and ‘providing much needed verticals as visual punctuation,’ says Jenny.
‘I’ve used a colour scheme in the house garden of white, blue and green for a calming atmosphere,’ Jenny explains. Flower choices include Rosa ‘Winchester Cathedral’, aquilegia and Spirea ‘Snowmound’, which work well with silver foliaged stachys.
See: Sensory garden ideas - create an outdoor space filled with sounds, scents and textures
Outside the walled garden, a touch of romance is provided by three rose beds. Each has a central obelisk, one adorned with Rosa ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ surrounded by R. ‘Darcey Bussell’, while the other two beds feature ‘Wollerton Old Hall’ and ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’. In May these are accompanied by spheres of Allium ‘Purple Sensation’.
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Potted lavenders frame the doorway to the protected walled garden, through which the view is down the west wall, with a long border planted in an effervescent cottage style.
Small trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs mingle together harmoniously, including gleditsia, Sorbus cashmiriana, nepeta, geraniums, irises and salvias.
'Maggie's Border' is bonny in blue among the cottage garden planting on the west side of the walled garden.
‘We call this west border Maggie’s border, after a local lady who offered us her blue border in its prime. Over the space of a weekend, we took out all the flowers and transplanted them to ours, and so Maggie’s border was born. We always love walking in to the walled garden and seeing that directly in front of us,’ explains Jenny.
Tom and Jennifer are slowly working their way around the walled garden, adding borders and features. Formal yew and hornbeam hedges now divide the one-acre space, giving a sense of intimacy, while paths criss-cross it.
Some stone pillars that were once part of the neighboring country manor house have been installed, and add an elegant statement, standing out against the drifts of blue irises.
The border by the potting shed in the walled garden is densely planted with a palette that includes clumps of golden Carex elata ‘Aurea’ and richly toned Aquilegia vulgaris stellata ‘Ruby Port’, a gift from Tom’s mother.
With much of the area still under development, there are plans yet to be fully envisioned, from nursery beds and a greenhouse, to further herbaceous borders, specimen trees, an orchard, and a wildflower area.
One of the latest projects is a cutting garden along the south wall. Here the choices for the vase include alliums, Euphorbia oblongata, gladioli, echinops, eryngium, irises and lilies, along with dahlias later in the season.
See: How to grow dahlias – a step by step guide to growing dahlias from tubers
‘New plans and projects present themselves all the time,’ Jenny concludes.
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