ISSUE 39  |  Belgian Masters

In the Garden with Philippa: Brit Style with a Black Backdrop

May 09, 2016 2:00 AM

BY Kendra Wilson

When Philippa Burrough and her family moved into the farmhouse at Ulting Wick almost 20 years ago, they found an old farmyard full of rusting machinery as well as a handful of glorious black barns. What better place to build a garden? The property’s black barns, a common feature dotting the eastern edges of the rural English landscape from Norfolk to Sussex, proved to be the perfect backdrop. Against a soothing and quiet background, the effect produced fields of flowers put into relief and vines transformed into sculptures.

Photography by Jim Powell for Gardenista.

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Above: The former threshing barn looms over a lawn punctuated with zinnia ‘Dahlia Mix’ and white cosmos ‘Purity’.

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Above: The barns at Ulting Wick are so big and lumbering, they offer a free and almost ubiquitous backdrop against which to grow delicate things. Shown here: Gaura lindheimeri planted en masse.

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Above: The accommodating anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’ was made for black backdrops. Bare branches of a climbing rose take on sculptural qualities.

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Above: One side of the barn is almost covered with the large-leafed crimson glory vine, or Vitis coignetiae. As the season progresses, the vine takes on color from the border below. This includes dahlia ‘Autumn Lustre’; helianthus ‘Valentine’; tithonia ‘Torch’; dahlia ‘Bishop of Auckland’, and helianthus ‘Claret’. Behind the border are waving fronds of feather reed grass, or Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’.

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Above: Pink cosmos ‘Dazzler’ with the fuzzy-headed grass Pennisetum villosum.

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Above: Verbena bonariensis congregate around the side door with an old concrete ramp.

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Above: The final flush from rosa ‘Phyllis Bide’ wraps around the corner of an old stable.

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Above: Angel’s trumpet (brugmansia) lives in oversized pots in the shelter of a former barn. With its fresh colors and distinguished shapes, this South American shrub really responds to a stark backdrop.

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Above: Ulting Wick’s gardens are open to visitors for charity six times a year, and the importance of tea and cake is never overlooked.

For more color from Ulting Wick, see Garden Visit: At Home With Philippa Burrough at Ulting Wick.