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


Hampton Court Highlights

There were some impressive gardens at this years RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, particularly in the Garden on a budget category and amongst the Conceptual gardens. We’ve put together a photo gallery of some of our favourites.

Photo credits: Garden Design Eye

Hard landscaping materials – the best of Chelsea 2012

As can be expected, the quality and finishing of the hard landscaping at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012 was of an exceptional standard. Some of the ideas and execution of the hard landscaping materials used were just as strong, and we’ve drawn together a compilation of some great examples that caught our eye.


The rich colour and strong horizontal lines of the overhead beams make a bold statement, as does the floating dining table, both of which featured on The Australian Garden designed by Jason Hodges / Flemings.

The beautiful rich colour of the bold cedar wood frames are the central feature of the Homebase Teenage Cancer Trust Garden designed by Joe Swift.

A simple and sleek wood bench on the Celebration of Caravanning Garden designed by Jo Thompson.


The Australian Garden featured leaf sculptures with the rust tones tying in with the warmth of the wooden overhead beams.

Taking the function of a fence this is an imaginative use of corten steel on The World Vision Garden designed by FlemondsWarlandDesign.

Corten Steel is used by Joe Swift here as a water feature on the Homebase Teenage Cancer Trust Garden.

A further example of corten steel used as a water feature on The Telegraph Garden designed by Sarah Price.  The material is used on the edges of the pool and the vertical water cascade.

The focal point of The M&G Garden designed by Andy Sturgeon is the energy wave sculpture, crafted from copper rings, that weaves through the garden.


An old stone mill head mounted on the dry stone wall is an impressive and imaginative focal point on the Brewin Dolphin Garden designed by Cleve West.

Limestone is the natural stone on The Daily Telegraph Garden designed by Sarah Price, with boulders and rough hewn blocks worked through the space.

The Renault Garden designed by James Basson demonstrates that a waste material such as pudding stone can be used to create a garden. Here it is used to form the pillars at the heart of the garden.

Travatine stone from Tivoli was chosen for the hard landscaping elements on The Arthritis Research UK Garden designed by Thomas Hoblyn. Rough hewn and finely honed finishes were both used in the garden.

A traditional dry stone roof is used on the Trulio building which is the centre-piece of the RBC Blue Water Garden designed by Professor Nigel Dunnett.

The M&G Garden by Andy Sturgeon features natural materials with Purbeck stone being used for the steps leading down to the pool.


Perspex cubes and artwork is central to The QR Code Garden designed by Jade Goto / Green Graphite.

The planters in the Rooftop Workplace of Tomorrow Garden designed by Patricia Fox have been manufactured by recycled materials.

Crafted leaves of perspex frost acrylic are used for the sculpture at the heart of The Bradstone Panache Garden designed by Caroline E Butler.

A striking sculpture stands out amongst the fresh gardens at Chelsea.

If you like this post, why not check out some more of our favourite garden design images at

All photographs copyright GardenDesignEye.