Visiting Bucklers Spring garden in Beaulieu
PUBLISHED: 12:26 07 August 2017
The atmospheric garden at Bucklers Spring combines contemporary and traditional ideas with iridescent winding streams of lavender and ornamental grasses, in the riverside setting of historic Bucklers Hard. Leigh Clapp paid a visit
As the light catches on the rippling, sinuous planting of grasses and lavender in the garden at Bucklers Spring, the effect is mesmeric. Echoing the watery glimpses beyond of the Beaulieu estuary, waves of planting shimmer as they ebb and flow with the slightest breeze. This stunning garden is a collaboration between award-winning landscape designer Alison Wear and keen gardener, owner Adrienne Page. Nestled by Bucklers Hard, the garden extends out from the characterful 1920’s cottage and billows through summer with a mix of beautiful herbaceous planting. “I moved to the property in 1998, attracted by the idea of being in Bucklers Hard, close to the Solent for sailing and the New Forest for walking and cycling. Something moved me to contemplate giving up London suburban life for something completely different. As a boarding school girl in nearby Salisbury, I had visited Bucklers Hard on coach trips,” she explains.
The garden was very natural, mostly lawn with boundary planting, roses and shrubs. “In the summer of 2009 I attended a charity evening in which one of the lots in the silent auction was two hours consultation with a Chelsea Gold Medal-winning landscape gardener, Alison Wear. I thought this was a great chance to have the garden reviewed by the sort of designer I would never normally have had the courage to approach,” Adrienne recalls. The re-design has been in stages and makes better use of the half-acre sloping plot with a sense of division from planted and designated seating areas. From the terrace adorned with containers and seating options there is a small chestnut wood decking, positioned for dining with views over the garden and to the estuary beyond the boundary hedging. Planting on the side boundaries was extended and augmented with a path and an avenue of Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’ (silver pear trees) down to a green oak pergola with seating as an anchoring focal point at the bottom of the garden.
The unique part of the garden though is the clever use of grasses and lavender as ribbons through the lower lawn, designed to reference the river estuary. Alison described them as ‘serpentine wiggles’. Low-growing lime green Sesleria ‘Greenlee Hybrid’ (moor grass) encloses the bright purple Lavandula x intermedia ‘Grosso’, a classic French lavender with a vigorous habit and prolific flowering. Some turf was removed to create the effect and rather than disposing of it this was used to form three earthwork buttons, planted with lawn daisies, on the top lawn. Grasses across the garden, including Miscanthus sinensis and wafting stands of Stipa gigantea, link the planting. Colours continue the muted palette of tones of fresh greens, with blues, whites and mauves, from plants such as agapanthus, echinops and Verbena bonariensis, enlivened with bright pink clouds of cosmos. “Amongst my best performing and most loved plants are the perennials,” adds Adrienne.
Completing the garden is a kitchen garden by the front of the house, hidden from the road by a willow screen smothered in clematis. Adrienne grows vegetables, herbs and cut flowers in raised beds and central to the area is a Primo oven that her partner Adam Speker uses for outdoor cooking. “At the time I involved Alison I was completely dependent upon her for ideas, but the process that she started as well as her on-going encouragement and enthusiasm has given me increasing confidence in my own design and planting ideas. I have been stimulated to acquire a greenhouse and a large cold frame and to grow from seed my own annuals, perennials and ornamental grasses,” Adrienne comments.
Adrienne loves to share the garden with visitors through the National Garden Scheme; this will be the second year of opening. Last year nearly 400 visitors resulted in £2,077 being raised for NGS charities. “We had great fun in the build up to the opening by tweeting ways of finding us on @bucklersspring. We posted pictures of Bella, our Labrador, posing next to the signposts for walkers and cyclists approaching along the riverside path from Beaulieu to Bucklers Hard. We had a lovely time and we are hoping we can have as successful a weekend this year. This year I hope to have many more plants, homegrown from seed, to sell,” Adrienne explains.
Her interest in gardening began in childhood and has been nurtured by making a garden and avid reading of books and magazines. “My interest, understanding and passion have progressed by leaps and bounds since Alison came into my gardening life. What I most enjoy about the garden, apart from everything about it, is working in it. I also enjoy at the end of the day walking up and down and around the gravel paths inspecting everything with glass of wine in one hand and scissors for dead-heading in the other. In our household, there is great competition for the task of dead-heading with a glass of wine,” she smiles.
Bucklers Spring, Beaulieu, SO42 7XA, ngs.org.uk