Beechleigh, traditional but contemporary. (67)

Last Saturday evening on our way to London driving down the A1 M, at the very sociable time of between 5-8pm we found the gate open…

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at Beechleigh, in Birch Green, Hertfordshire. We walked down the long drive running alongside a field, where a footpath crosses over and the grass has recently been cut, and found the property, which was originally a gamekeeper’s cottage on a former country estate.

Evening openings are fun; held in lovely surroundings it is rather like a drinks party, but without the people you so desperately want to avoid.

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There is no defined boundary between field and garden, mature trees, newly planted grass beds and pond, merge naturally together.

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And we find ourselves amongst colourful beds which flow around the house in the neatly mown lawn.

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The garden is owned by Jacky and Gary and was designed a couple of years ago by London-based Daniel Shea (http://www.danielshea.co.uk/about); his brief was to create a contemporary design whilst also keeping within traditional influences.

This circular shape of this eye-catching border complements the moon shape sculpture.

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Visitors are asking about the colour of the water, it has a little black dye put in which keeps the water weed free and is also environmentally friendly. Around the little waterfall is a soft palette of ferns, sedum and Mexican feather grass, stipa tenuissima with knotweed persicaria and blood grass imperata cylindrica providing touches of red.

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Although the good thick hedge does not quite hide the sound of the traffic from the A414 it is a calming and secluded garden. Three stones on the lawn link the pond area to a traditional herbaceous border,

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which is packed with dahlias, sedum and roses, the edges kept clean by plate steel edging.

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This is a garden designed for outdoor living. The modern kitchen extension with bifold doors on two sides opens seamlessly onto bleached Balau decking.

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Alongside is a what is described as 13m reflective pond, and I am puzzled why  this canal-like feature it is not called a rill. Edged with brick, the flowing water here is very dark. On the far side a long border is effective with a naturalistic style of planting; lavender, purple salvia, sedum, echinacea and calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ is repeated throughout.

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There are comfortable and hospitable places to sit on the patio

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around the nearby fire pit which is gently smoking in the fading evening light.

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There is a Lutyens bench tucked against the wall,

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from where you can look back through calamagrostis, over the rill and decking to the kitchen.

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This side of the herbaceous border is paved with York stone and edged with reclaimed bricks.

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A door in the wall clothed with a montana clematis opens into the allotment area and the brick path invites us in.

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Vegetables grow on one side of the path and on the other is a wild flower meadow that even in August is still dotted with colour.

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A decoratively-filled wheel barrow,  cheers up a gravelled corner in the yard.

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Back by the house the steel heron stands and watches the water from the end of the rill just where a solid oak pergola has weathered to silvery grey.

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On the North East side of the house acers are amongst the shrubs that fill the island border.

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An ornamental well brings an olde world charm.

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Mature trees on the North side of the house are underplanted with beds which display a variety and interest. The light is fading fast

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and we return along the decking.

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where Betsie and Evie, mum and daughter are helping to count the evening’s takings.

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It is time to go, the sun is setting and my camera is flashing.

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A last look at the deer standing in the long grass; they were recently acquired at Chelsea.

Beechleigh is not vast but a well-designed garden with plenty of interesting areas combined with effective planting, It is a garden to be enjoyed, for entertaining and relaxing.

So inspired by the plan of her own garden Jacky has completed a course in garden design and has now runs her own consultancy: jacky@jackyodesign.co.uk

The garden gate will be open again TODAY from12 noon -5pm and if you just find yourself on the A1M, I suggest you take a short detour and see for yourself. Gary and Jacky will welcome you and there will be delicious home-made teas.

——67——-

 

3 thoughts on “Beechleigh, traditional but contemporary. (67)

  1. That inky water is interesting. Around here I have seen an aqua color dye put into ponds to keep away weeds. It also seems to keep away wildlife. hmmmmmm
    I like all the beds crammed with dahlias. Great for this time of year.

    Like

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