Gardenproud Blog

Archive for September, 2012

Secret Sun Terrace

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Our client had an extraordinary hot spot in their garden which they wanted to capitalise on.

It was potentially a quiet area. One of those spots you might place a cafe table and a couple of chairs to catch the late afternoon sun and enjoy a refreshing cup of tea or even an early glass of wine, and read the paper or a good novel. Or even catch up on the day with your partner!

Well it was just that, but when we arrived it was an overgrown area with the just the glimmer of an idea.

The Gardenproud design brain got to work on a number of concepts….

Eventually we all set upon one design that featured a rose bordered terrace with a raised bed to one aspect, surrounded by subtle lighting and a terraced surface that integrated with existing pathways and patio…

Once agreed, first step was to clear the area, then excavate the space that was to become the new terrace.

Sleeper based walls were then erected to support the new raised bed.

Then the footings and new indian sandstone terrace surface was laid with matching border stones.

Surrounding the terrace and integrating with the existing pathway borders new dwarf walls were built.

Then a rustic rose trellis and posts were erected with an entrance archway to create our enclosed “secret space”.

A central feature in the new raised bed was a stone urn selected and supplied by Chilstone.

Perimeter lighting in both the raised bed and behind the trellising was fitted and is now switchable from a remote indoors.

Finally, the newly landscaped area was adorned with plants including of course roses!

The client was very pleased with their new sun trap, in fact so much so that within days of completion a couple of rather nice wicker work chairs were in place, and the newspaper had already been out for a good read!

“A great outcome. The eye for detail has made it far better than we imagined.” Chris Attwood.

From dangerous bog to running water

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

A client recently asked us to apply our minds to how we could enhance a water feature in his garden and create a safer, more beautiful running stream.

The stream had silted up over the years and this silt had become weed infested and reacted like quick sand when you tried to walk anywhere near it.

Similarly the banks of the stream looked uninteresting and deserved attention. Part of the historical problem here had been that the steepness had made it almost impossible to maintain and had resulted in one or two gardeners slipping back into the muddy abyss below!

Everybody agreed that it was a potentially rather attractive feature of the garden, but it deserved some attention.

The Gardenproud team came up with a plan that dredged the stream, created a permanent liner for the new stream with improvements to the rock waterfalls, recycled the silt as a soil improver along the banks, and incorporated a new maintenance pathway and rockery along the once steep upper bank.

First step was to clear the site of weeds and plants that might get damaged by the works. Then the digger came in!

This dredged the silt and took the stream surface down to a more solid base. Then Gardenproud laid a tough PVC membraine along the entire run of the stream ( some 50m) factoring in the different levels created by a series of shallow waterfalls. This was affixed one side to the supports for a new timber and bark pathway and on the other to a treated timber framework that was pegged into the ground.

Pebbles were laid along the surface of the new stream, and the Rock surfaces of the waterfalls were relaid and improved.

Some VERY large rocks were sourced and these were very kindly moved into the rear garden by a very friendly farmer. We then had the task of lifting these into their new positions on the steep upper bank. One rather heavy specimen didn’t quite make it but looks fine in it’s new resting place!

Rocks in place and the digger and other machinery could be taken off site. Next step was to get the pathways in and repair, rotovate, grade and reshape lawned areas adjoining the new beds and the stream. A rather large quantity of turf was needed! So this involved a large lorry, a large rotovator and a lot of barrowing.

The finished result is looking really good. Nice safe bark pathways, clear running water, a rockery, new upper and lower banks ready to plant and a newly landscaped and laid lawn area.

The client wanted to add a few very important comments to our blog post……….

“The stream has been a worry to me for the last ten years or so. When the first of our eight grandchildren was able to walk freely and enjoy a degree of independence (from adults that is) in this large garden I was greatly relieved. Ideas in the past have been considered and discarded, but it was when I made contact with Tim on another problem I was having to address (too many mature trees blocking the sunlight), that we discussed the stream and surrounding area and how to address the risks. Tim came up with an exciting plan, at a reasonable cost, given the difficulties in accessing the site with heavy equipment and the site being some way from the house and the road. Years of leaf mould were removed from the stream to be used on the bed prior to planting and the base made secure. The whole exercise took about four weeks, but it was four weeks well spent. All the boys who did the heavy work should be complimented on their commitment and enterprise. It was at times a dirty job but now the structural work has been completed, my wife and I are delighted with the result. The exciting part is still to come of course – deciding on the planting – but by the Summer of 2013, I shall be proud to show visitors what can be achieved with a little vision, and a whole lot of hard work and enterprise. It was a garden for children; it is now a safe garden for children, who will always be made welcome. My thanks to Tim, George and Daniel and ‘the boys’ for an excellent job completed in the right spirit.”

David Burton, Beechwood House (September 2012)

So next step is a planting plan for the rockery and lower beds.

For further information about our experience or help with water features call Tim Sykes on 07725 173820.

Lamb House – Home of Henry James

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

Lamb House was built in 1723 by James Lamb, an important citizen of Rye and 13 times mayor. The house remained in the family until 1864.

The author Henry James who fell in love with the house then took on a lease in 1898 and lived there until his death in 1916. The house and gardens were to provide the quiet and peaceful retreat from which he wrote many of his novels from a garden house in the grounds (this was destroyed in an air raid on 18th August 1940), including The Wings of the Dove, The Ambassadors and The Golden Bowl.

The writer E.F.Benson, an admirer of James, came to live in the house after Henry James died. He shared the tenancy with his brother (also a writer) famous for having written the words to Elgar’s ” Land of Hope and Glory”. E.F. Benson went onto live in the house until his death in 1940.

Today the house and gardens are looked after by The National Trust. If you are staying at The Mermaid or one of the other superb hotels and guest houses in Rye, Lamb House is conveniently placed and definitely worth a visit!

Despite having no prior knowledge ( ” I am hopeless about the garden, which I don’t know what to do with and shall never, never know – I am densely ignorant.”), Henry James secured the help of a friend Alfred Parsons – a landscape gardener, to help create a beautiful walled garden, leading from a pair of french doors on one side of the house.

The layout of the garden is much the same as in James’s time with a large sweeping lawn, various flower beds, shrubs and a rose garden and kitchen garden situated behind an attractive trellis supporting climbing roses.

Various attractive benches adorn the grounds acting as resting and focal points…

Other features added by Henry James to the house and garden help give a unique perspective and charm..

At the back of the shrubbery, in the South-West corner of the garden, you can still see the dog cemetery where he buried many of his favourite dogs.

James’s favourite Mulberry tree was blown down in a gale, this has now been replaced and he’d be very pleased to note is bearing lots of fruit!

The gardens were a delight…

When you consider this oasis sat within the beauty of Rye, you can easily understand how the setting gave Henry James so much inspiration for his great works.

Lamb House, house and gardens are open from 24th March to 27th October, Tuesday and Saturdays, 2 – 6pm ( last admissions 5.30pm). For further information see The National Trust website at and

Smallhythe Place Gardens

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

A beautiful little cottage garden run by The National Trust in Smallhythe, Kent situated close to Tenterton.

We were fortunate enough to visit Smallhythe Place today as part of a weekend away in Rye ( we treated ourselves to a stay at The Mermaid Inn, which I can well recommend).

Smallhythe Place is the home of the late Dame Ellen Terry GBE (1847 – 1928).

Dame Ellen Terry sitting with friends and relatives at the back door of the Priest House at Smallhythe from a painting by Clare Atwood.

Dame Ellen Terry was probably the most famous Victorian actress of her day, from an acting perspective she might be seen as a sort of latter day Dame Judy Dench! From a personal perspective she married three times, had numerous affairs and two illegitimate children and was associated with the rich, talented and famous. For the last thirty years of her life she lived at Smallhythe Place, a timbered, medieval house on the edge of Romney Marsh.

Thanks to The National Trust the house has retained it’s charm.

The house is surrounded by pretty cottage garden style borders…….

There are a number of different compartments to the garden including a rose garden, a lawned area and 2 large ponds that surround the barn theatre, an orchard, and a small nuttery.

I had never seen such an interesting nuttery. Planted in a unique pattern ” The Platt” featuring Cobnuts and Filberts.

So the story goes the plants are grown for their shoots which are strong and straight and these are harvested to be used in the garden as sticks that can support roses or be weaved, hence the proximity to the Rose Garden. At Smallhythe Place the nuts are also harvested and sold in the Autumn.

It’s probably the Rose Garden that attracts most avid gardeners……

The Rose Garden is split into four main beds with lawned pathways running between and bordering each section. There are a whole host of wonderful rose specimens planted among other cottage garden plants. We were seeing the end of the flowering but there were still many fine examples…

Among the varieties is the “Ellen Terry Rose”. We were shown a photograph of the rose, but saw no flowering evidence. However the bud below seems to be from a plant that is standing on the very spot that the Ellen Terry Rose is supposed to stand! So who knows it could be the very thing!!

The “Ellen Terry Rose” was produced by W.E.Chaplin in their Waltham Cross nursery in 1925. It is a pale yellow, sweetly scented tea rose.

The closest example of a similar tea rose I could find is this rather beautiful example….

As you can see Smallhythe Place is well worth a visit. It is cared for by The National Trust and the house and gardens are open from 3rd March – 31st October, Saturday to Wednesday (closed Thursday and Friday), 11am – 5pm or dusk if earlier.

Further information can be found on the National Trust website at and also at