Hello Now that we are in to high Summer season we have been taking a wander around the English countryside both in Oxfordshire and up North to share some of our favourite places and spaces that have inspired some of our work. We take our inspirations for designs from all sorts of resources, often drawing from our heritage and beautiful British countrysides. Come and take a little wander with us....
For late June through to July Foxgloves are an absolute favourite. They tower and nod, often growing in an almost defiant manner, bringing mystical life to woodlands and dark, craggy corners of the countryside.
Foxgloves : Digitalis, are an essential source of nectar for bumble bees, butterflies and hawk moth. We can't get enough of them, as you will see in some of the gardens we have created over the last few years.
Dancing Digitalis in a Hendy Curzon Landscape, Oxfordshire
The Lakes, Cumbria. A constant source of inspiration
Black water, parterre and Lavandula in an HC Garden, Oxfordshire
Next up on our wanderings- Levens Hall in Kendal. This is a stately home with a collection of awe inspiring gardens.
In the owners words - "It is the finest, oldest and most extensive topiary garden in the world. There are over 100 pieces here, each clipped to an unusual and individual design. Some of the trees and bushes are three hundred years old and the layout of this garden has changed little since their planting and initial training in the 1690s. Then, it was really fashionable to have a garden in the Dutch style with clipped greens set in a pattern of formal box edged flower beds. Fashions changed by the 1730s however, and most similar gardens were ripped out to make way for the new trend of natural landscaping. Amazingly this garden survived that purge, was enhanced in the 19th Century, and continued even through the economic pressures of the 20th Century."
So glad it survived 'the purge' then, and from our impressions the gardens at Levens Hall are like an Alice in Wonderland experience. Yes, there are the beautiful, but arguably prerequisite formal parterre & topiary schemes placed front of house to the hall. These are guaranteed to please the masses, and perhaps are required to ease visitors in, before revealing the true wonders that lie beyond the walls...
Gargantuan geometric and abstract, 300 year old topiary pieces that defy your senses of scale and possibility, placing you inside a surreal living sculpture gallery.
Once within it's walls you feel quite humbled by the history and heritage, namely the persistance of creation. Every way you turn shows another juxtapostion of living shape, colour and form, and you have to keep reminding yourself to look back, look sideways... not just forwards. It makes you feel quite dizzy in the end.
"Curiouser and curiouser!" - Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Beyond the mad hatter topiary gardens the rest does not disappoint. Amongst the maze of gardens is the massively impressive Great Beech Circle. Elsewhere, ornamental and productive gardens line the laid to lawn paths, leading to pleached Tilia tunnels,
and flourishing colour themed herbaceous borders and intoxicating rose gardens. Something for everyone then in a way, from the highly formal to the wild to the practical, to the obscure and sublime. Divine!
She drank from a bottle called DRINK ME
And she grew so tall,
She ate from a plate called TASTE ME
And down she shrank so small.
And so she changed,
while other folks
Never tried nothin' at all.”
- Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends
Wanderings through woodlands and country have, over time resulted in some of these HC Gardens of late...
Snowshill Lavender Farm...
The Walled Garden, Oxfordshire, HC
There is still a lot of Summer to unfold yet. So far the weather has been pretty kind but still, being Britain it could get hot, it could get rainy... or a combo of both. Either, or, we will keep on creating and rolling with what ever mother nature throws at us.
We love our land and gardens in the UK so much that we just need to embrace what ever each changing season offers us. For instance now, the sun is out but there is a hail storm outside. You have got to love that!
On site last week : the HC Gardens team completing a front of house garden in North Oxford. The house is a restored Victorian Townhouse so we designed a garden to complement it. It was a ruined space for so long that it felt like a true rescue! It was lovely to see the efforts on the townhouse by its owners to finally be set off by the front of house garden, as a pre-cursor to their signature style. The plants are all traditional cottage style presented in a contemporary way.
Well we said we could'nt get enough of them... Dalmatian Foxgloves nod firmly towards the contemporary in this heritage garden project.
So we will keep wandering, and finding and being inspired... to make gardens that are as unique as can be.
Wanderlands Source Book: All Photography - Hendy Curzon Gardens. Places and spaces visited here - Levens Hall, Kendal, Cumbria, Hendy Curzon Gardens (various) Oxfordshire, Snowshill Lavender Farm, Worcestershire, Oxfordshire countrysides, The Lakes.