Garden Visit: Bury Court

Bury Court in Surrey showcases the work of two leading designers; Piet Oudolf and Christopher Bradley-Hole. Garden Design Eye were excited to get the opportunity to visit Bury Court where both of these designers have created gardens.

In the first of two blog posts we take a look at the walled garden at Bury Court designed by Piet Oudolf.

The contemporary walled garden is a well-known garden recognised for its grasses and hardy perennials. Planted in 1997, the walled garden was the first naturalistic garden designed by Piet Oudolf in Britain*. The planting in the garden is a mixture of the ornamental grasses and perennials that are his signature.



A cobbled stone pathway works its way around the garden and past luxuriantly planted borders and sculpted box and yew hedges.


As the visitor follows the path around the garden, different vistas of the garden and its areas of planting are presented, such as the stylised meadow in the background of the photos above and below.



The meadow planting uses Molinia grasses and is interspersed with red clover “Trifolium rubens” and foxgloves, plus other perennials.



A closer view of the meadow planting, here the emerging stems of Allium sphaerocephalon mingle with the flower heads of the red clover.


The deep borders on the eastern side of the garden are filled with taller plants at the back of the border, such as the spires of the veronicastrum, and shorter plants at the front of the border, such as sedum and salvia.


The mass of plants jostle for space and spill over on to the path. Geranium, salvia and agastache are used repeatedly in the garden.



Stipa gigantea grasses add their stature, elegance and height to the borders.




Inspiring planting combinations can be seen throughout the garden.


Contrasting foliage forms and textures; Rodgersia, digitalis and gaura.


Eryngium, anthemis and stipa tenuissima in combination.


Eryngium and phlomis paired together.


Plants with spires and strong vertical accents are much in evidence.



Topiary is used here to create a lattice effect.


Broad leaved bog and marginal plants fringe the pond.


For more information:

Bury Court:

Piet Oufolf:

Photo credits: Garden Design Eye


Chelsea Physic Garden: A gem in the heart of London

The Chelsea Physic Garden can be found a short distance away from where the annual RHS Chelsea Flower Show is held. The garden covers 3.8 acres with Royal Hospital Road to the north and the Embankment to the south. The Physic Garden at Chelsea was founded by the Society of Apothecaries in 1673, so that their apprentices could learn to grow medicinal plants and study their uses. Today the garden is still dedicated to promoting education, conservation, and scientific research.

The garden is divided by gravel paths into quadrants, which are then mostly sub-divided into rectilinear beds – an original design feature of the garden. These borders have plants grouped by their culinary and medicinal uses, plants for perfumery and cosmetics, and others used for the manufacture of fabrics and dyes.

The formal design of the botanical garden is broken by trees which often have a multitude of uses, and include an ancient yew. A Historical Walk allows you to follow the Garden’s own history, with plants introduced into cultivation by notable botanists, such as Sir Joseph Banks and Robert Fortune.


Evidence of formality: demonstrated by a row of neatly clipped bay trees pruned as ‘lollipop’ standards.


Sweet cicely ‘Myrrhis odorata’ in the culinary borders.


Scarlet red poppies in the pharmaceutical borders.


Wildlife flourishes in the garden, and frogs, toads and newts inhabit the Tank Pond which was restored in 2004. The Flag Iris is in flower at the ponds edge.


The fresh green foliage of the virginia creeper ‘Parthenocissus quinquefolia’ stand out beautifully against the black panel fence.


Some lovely examples of architectural foliage – Cynara cardunculus is in the image below.



Gravel paths work their way through the garden and take the visitors past many different plants of interest.



The towering spires of the Echium give a tropical feel to the gardens. The sheltered situation and high brick walls enclosing the gardens help to provide a micro climate for less hardy plants to grow.


An imaginative way of creating a vertical herb garden by using a stack of wooden crates.

Whether for the serious plant enthusiast or the casual garden visitor, the Chelsea Physic Garden is a delight to visit and a great place to discover and learn about plants and their huge array of uses.

To find out more about the Garden and its activities visit

Photo credits: Garden Design Eye

Garden Visit : Marks Hall Gardens and Arboretum

Marks Hall Gardens and Arboretum near Coggeshall in Essex are set in more than 200 acres of historic landscape. The Arboretum features a tree collection from all the temperate areas of the world and the highlights of the gardens include The Birkett Long Millennium Walk, designed for structure, colour and scent on the shortest days of the year, plus traditional and contemporary planting and garden design in the 18th century Walled Garden.

The Walled Garden was the part of the grounds that we wanted to get a good look at and is the focus of our attention in this post. The Walled Garden comprises five separate gardens each bordered on three sides by clipped hornbeam hedges and the fourth side bordered by a broad expanse of lawn and borders used as a main walkway and that run alongside one of the main external brick walls of the garden.


The first garden features an earth sculpture and according to the visitor guide this represents a new beginning – the start of the year. A feature of all the landscaping in the garden including the earth sculpture in the first garden, is it encourages the visitor to actively engage with the garden whilst fostering a sense of playfulness.



The paved path leads you into the second garden enclosure. Here the visitor finds a novel use of Choisya ternata – the Mexican Orange Blossom – so often found in the garden in its everyday natural form, here it is used as a low clipped hedge that winds its way through the space whilst at the same time providing different pockets of planting in the spaces between its curves.


The third and central garden is a contrast to the previous space as the curved lines become straight  and the geometry becomes more rectangular. This effect is delivered by the regimented lines of planting of a single plant type (Lavender grosso and Iris ‘Deep Black’ shown in the photos below) and further emphasised by the clipped box and stone table.





The clipped box and stone table is a strong geometric feature in the scheme and also cleverly introduces perspective into the design.


Stone spheres add to the strong geometry in the design and the round shape is repeated by the clipped box spheres and the clipped Santolina used in other parts of the garden.


In the fourth garden the curved lines are resumed but this time represented by hard landscaping. An undulating slate topped stone wall snakes its way through the space and echoes the way the Choisya hedging was used in the second garden.




Finally the continuous thread that has wound its way through all the gardens enters the fifth and final garden ending with a ‘pool’ of slate that almost acts as a full stop to mark the end of the cycle.



On exiting the previous enclosed gardens the visitor is taken past clipped spheres of box and Hebe ‘Rakaiensis’ down towards the open spaces of the surrounding lakes and woodland.


At the time of visiting (late May) the planting in the Walled Garden hadn’t properly got going as it was mainly mid to late summer flowering perennials and grasses. However the clever use of landscaping, clipped hedging and interesting design ideas were enough to provide interest despite the seasonal planting not yet being in full swing.

For further visitor information:

Photo credits: Garden Design Eye