No country home is complete without a pretty garden. Whether you’re looking to create a informal, cottage scheme full of colour and fragrance; a formal garden with structured design and architectural interest; an outdoor entertaining space; or a relaxed haven for wildlife, be inspired by this wide selection of real gardens, lovingly transformed over time to do justice to the stunning period properties that they surround.
As well as ideas on layout and design, click through the links to find tips and advice on planting and soil types.
1. A relaxed garden filled with cottage favourites
Rosie and Robin Lloyd have embraced the challenges of gardening on chalk in the South Downs to create an informal, colourful cottage meld to delight the senses.
Set on a sloping site, with cottage-style plating throughout featuring many old-fashioned favourites, the front garden is terraced and split into rooms, while the more naturalistic-style back garden leads to a wildflower meadow.
2. Arts & Crafts-style gem
Interior designers Anne and Anthony used their eye for composition to transform a woodland-encompassed Surrey plot. Set in an Area of Outstanding Natural beauty, the secluded garden combines a formal sunken topiary parterre with verdant striped lawns and terraces perfect for alfreco entertaining.
3. Wrap around garden with far-reaching views
Boasting spectacular vistas across Kent salt marshes, this garden started off as a neglected plot of mixed shurbs, rough grass and a few trees, but the owners have transformed it into a beautiful outdoor space of curvaceous floral borders, manicured lawns and pretty patio areas for alfresco dining.
The garden, which envelops a 15th-century farmhouse, has a relaxed ambience with a planting palette of purple, white and grey.
4. Colourful Spring mill garden
Sarah Fraser has filled her country garden with a riot of colour. She uses tulips as her paint and her garden as a canvas, experimenting with the different shades, and has painstakingly planted over 2,000 bulbs by hand. Enclosed by walls and a tall leylandii hedge, the west-facing plot is dominated by an ancient holly that has been painstakingly sculpted into a gigantic bowler hat.
From the house, steps lead down from a stone terrace decorated with pots, to a broad lawn edged in borders that are overflowing with colour-themed spring bulbs, shrubs and emerging perennials. A summerhouse, parterre and potager are tucked away in corners.
5. A Kent garden full of colour
Retired physiotherapist Sue, and her husband Peter de Wit, had never lived in one place for long enough to fully appreciate their gardens. In 2010, they put down roots in the beautiful Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, with an acre of plot on which to create the garden of their dreams.
The couple have turned this beautiful setting into a space for relaxing and outdoor entertaining. There are two large flat lawns and plenty of colourful beds, with planting choices influenced by Sue’s childhood in Australia and Peter’s Dutch heritage.
6. Enchanting bluebell woodland garden
Set within a bluebell wood, the gardens of this Hampshire cottage had not been touched for 40 years when its new owners bought the property. It was overgrown and in serious need of fencing and clearing. Nettles had taken hold and brambles towered around fallen trees that needed removing.
With love and care the garden has been trasnformed. The bluebell were carefully cultivated and an area has been set aside as a wild garden, where self-seeding plants are given free rein. There is also a lovely seating area in the more formal pebble garden, enclosed in clipped buxus spheres. A raised fruit bed and vegetable plot offer a variety of produce, and a cottage garden billows with bee-attracting flowers and herbs.
7. Relaxed garden with vintage touches
When designing her own garden, landscape architect Marian Boswall had big ideas. Not only did she want to capture her philosophy of working with the setting while respecting the ecology of the land, but the garden also needed to reflect the informality and comfort of her medieval cottage. The result is an relaxed country garden with flowing planting, meandering paths and water features.
With lovely views across the Low Wield Special Landscape, the garden is more structured near the house and becomes looser as it melds into the woodland areas. A hidden garden lies behind a high hedge, with a small opening leading to a large lawn with borders. On the south facing edge, long grasses and perennials were chosen to attract wildlife.
8. Bright garden with a view
It is apparent from the moment you enter this picturesque garden that its owner Meryl Walters has a background in interior design. A skilled use of colour is immediately evident: spring bulbs enhance the fresh greens with pockets of orchestrated combinations of hues, as garden areas unfold to the captivating views beyond.
The initial priority was to plant hundreds of trees, mostly native, including oak, beech, ash, alders, poplars and cherries, to give privacy and to muffle the sound of the nearby road. Without a set plan, although with constant support from her husband, Peter, Meryl has slowly shaped the garden creating shapely lawn areas, colourful flower beds and pleasant seating areas.