I'm immensely proud of my work at Kilver Court and can look back upon a time of the biggest changes the gardens had been through for the past 50 years.
When I came to Kilver Court in 2015 I was met by a contradiction: on the one hand, I going to be working for a forward-thinking visionary in Roger Saul; on the other in a garden tethered to a rather unfashionable past. My role was to bridge these opposing worlds and bring modernity and change.
First came a brand new plant nursery: a vision of reclamation yard timbers, antique arches, weathered corrugated iron roofs and an eclectic and unusual collection of plants sourced from all over the south-west.
A winter's storm then blew down a huge Willow on the island in the lake and led the way to completely new sub-tropical island with Loquat trees and Dickinsoina, surrounded with Ligularias and Gunnera manicata.
Coincidence again forced the creative hand as an aged wooden bridge went to ruin, and as we had just acquired a (new) stumpery, a new wooden bridge made of the Judas tree was aligned next to the stumpery under the shade of Yew tree. We then planted it like an English woodland with Anemones, Hart's tongue fern, Epimediums and Bluebells.
As Roger and I felt more emboldened to force the hand of change, a new project was conceived: to completely regenerate and redesign our tired and overgrown 100-metre herbaceous border. It would follow a concept of foliage first, colourist design, and flow through many bold and exciting forms, structures and colour combinations.
Away from the major projects I was also keen to open up more vistas and paths that would cut through the overgrown vegetation, framing the views and adding a sense of depth to the garden (see pic top right and bottom right). In parallel, I wanted the opposite from the established planting that had become conformed and rigid; I looked to loosen up the edges and introduce a softer more romantic feeling to contrast the harder elements.