Gardenproud Blog

Archive for August, 2014

Transforming the frontage of a Tunbridge Wells town house

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

By Tim Sykes – 10th August 2014

This front of house in one of Tunbridge Wells sought after parks has been recently transformed by Gardenproud. The solution included reconfiguring the entrance, some new outer and inner brick walls, a new stone driveway, painted benches, raised beds and some beautiful topiary.

The new frontage allows the occupants to park up to six cars, whilst still maintaining nice planted borders, so an attractive welcome to the house.

Key to the design was reconfiguring the property entrance from the side to centre.

This allows cars to enter and park on either side without vehicles blocking entrance and exits. Moving the entrance to the centre has also aligned this to the front door of the house, helping create a more dramatic impression of the house.

The portico of the house used to sit on a small concrete curved stone base, this was removed and replaced by a much wider Yorkstone paved area. This helps give the front door more gravitas.

The curved dwarf wall borders follow a similar pattern to the external walls which feature sandstone keystones. “This was a feature of the original walls which we liked and wanted to retain”, comments Tim Sykes from Gardenproud.

The original engraved facing stone has been cleaned up and re-fitted to the new gate piers. As have the finials and capitals from the old gate openings.

The old conifer that used to sit in front of the house became a casualty of the scheme ( a matching conifer that sat on the opposite side of the house came down in the great storm of 1987 smashing into the house). The two trees have been replaced by four new ones, two beautiful liquidambar styraciflua. And two prunus nigras.

Two Luytens benches were cleaned up and painted the same colour as the house, then planned into the landscaping that would ultimately sit either side of the portico.

Topiary borders are a feature of the above landscaping. These include large box balls and cones that have been planted into raised platforms, designed so that the platforms ultimately disappear into the hedging so that it looks like the spheres and cones rise up out of the border hedges. The latest photographs and light trim of the buxus show that the idea is already starting to take effect.

For further information about driveways, transforming the front of your house, and garden design contact Tim Sykes at Gardenproud on 07725 173820

Les Jardins du Manoir d’Eyrignac

Friday, August 1st, 2014

By Tim Sykes - 23/7/14

After a lot of research and compromise. Having visited Villandry at the start of our vacation, I was limited to one other garden visit! To my fortune we struck upon The Gardens at Eyrignac, just NE of Sarlat.

On the face of it not that far from where we were staying at a lovely house in Bergerac. So yesterday Sarah(my wife) and I set off for the day, leaving our boys to look after the ranch and enjoy the poolside inactivity.

Our journey to Eyrignac took us along the banks of the Dordogne, through the pretty village of Lalinde, past Tremolat, the hilltop village of St Cyprien, and onto the wonders of the cliff face settlement of Beynac, before heading north toward Sarlat.

Sarlat is a beautiful town which is very much at the centre of the holiday trade in the Dordogne, there’s money here! You can see it in the shops, the profusion of smart restaurants, the freshly painted facades, and the car parking spaces – full of Audi’s, BMW’s and the odd Maserati ( anybody willing to donate to me a matt black Gran Turisimo S and I’ll be your friend for life )!

From Sarlat we took the D704, then the D60 towards Salignac- Eyvigues. The turning to Eyrignac is on your right just before you get to Salignac.

Eyrignac is one of France’s most beautiful private gardens, and contains some fine topairy. It is owned by the Sermadris family, who have nurtured the house and gardens over some 22 generations.

A team of six gardeners maintain close to 10 acres of gardens. Key to the gardens success and unification is the strict rule that limits the number of main species in the gardens, to 10 varieties. The topiary features hornbeam, yew, Mediterranean cypress, apple trees, box, and mulberry trees.

One of the most amazing vistas is the avenue of shaped hornbeam and cylindrical yew topiary that directs you down a corridor towards the house.

The hornbeams provide a nice contrast to the dark and dense structure of the yew columns, a lighter green during the summer, and brown leaf during the winter. They look like beech, but the leaves are smaller, and so give a denser hedge.

Behind the hornbeam alley are two other interesting features. The first is the swimming pool. You’d feel like a greek goddess stepping into this deep blue pool.

With it’s Perigord style building alongside.

The second is the wide avenue that runs behind the pool and pavilion. It features some topiary of a grand scale, juxtaposed with large conifers (potentially a hangover from the garden’s previous English Parkland era) .

At one end of this avenue is a hornbeam rotunda. This has carefully cut windows framing beautiful vistas of the surrounding countryside.

At the opposite end of the avenue is the last surviving reminder of the English romantic period which influenced the gardens in the 19th century. The Neogothic English Arches.

With the dappled sandy surfaces of the courtyard entrance beyond..

These gardens are just idyllic! The Sermadris family have had a vision and they have just stuck with it.

Our travels took us to the Cuttings Garden, the Potager Garden, The Topiary Farmyard, The Meadow and finally the White Garden.

The Potager Garden was contained within a fenced and neatly pathed area…

The Topiary Farmyard is where the latest shapes are formed to replenish the gardens stock.

In contrast to the formality of the gardens the Meadow Area is a breath of fresh air!

Finally the White Garden

This recent feature combines geometric shapes of fine topiary, with water features and white perennial planting.

So what more can one say? This is a superb garden and one we shall re-visit.

The Shop? I managed to find the summer hat I’d been looking for ages, plus a very nice book about Eyrignac.

The only let down was the restaurant, after a long drive we were looking for a nice watering hole, alas only a posh ice cream to greet us. This could be something Eyrignac might address.

Otherwise it was a fantastic experience.

For further information contact Manoir d’Eyrignac direct at  www.eyrignac.com or  Tim Sykes of Gardenproud at 07725 173820, or at info@reallygardenproud.com