ISSUE 33  |  Summer Cottages

Garden Visit: Camera Ready in the English Countryside at Walnuts Farm

August 19, 2014 10:00 AM

BY Kendra Wilson

In England, a micro-farm is called a smallholding and usually distinguished by a random assortment of rusted machinery and plastic gear. Not so Walnuts Farm in East Sussex, just an hour from London. The home of Nick and Bella Ivins, it pays its way as a location for film and photographic shoots.

Nick and Bella are both photographers, which gives them a natural grasp of what those in the business might need. Their garden has made appearances in Glamour, Italian Vogue, and other publications. Here’s why:

Photography by Nick and Bella Ivins.

Above: The south facade of the house, seen from a path mowed through a meadow to the front door.

Above: Next to the house is an ordered vegetable garden. That’s a dovecote on the exterior wall; to the right is a two-story brick granary. 

Above: The vegetable garden is expected to be productive for the family. Shown here: runner beans, with sweet peas in the foreground.

Above: Despite the everyday requirements of farming (including livestock: there are pigs, chicken, guinea fowl, and wild turkeys here), Walnuts Farm needs to be shoot-worthy at all times. The Ivins make good use of rustic local materials, such as this informal wigwam of coppiced hazel.

Above: Late summer at Walnuts Farm.

Above: To recreate the look in your garden, see Steal This Look: Walnuts Farm Kitchen Garden.

Above: Nick and Bella also make the fencing. Since East Sussex is relatively wooded, sustainable materials are always close at hand. For this fence, they wove coppiced hazel around chestnut posts. (Watch the video at Walnuts Farm to see them weave a willow fence.)

Above: Corn, kale, and calendula grow companionably by the shed. In this context, even chicken wire looks good.

Above: The photogenic (and real) hen house. Nick and Bella raise Welsummer and Cream Legbar chickens–which, of course, are also photogenic. 

If you’re not so interested in having your garden used for photo shoots, see Kendra’s post Can We Please Be Less Fanatically Tidy? To find out more about cottage-style companion planting, see Five Favorites: Veg Plot Must-Haves