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.
Above: The former threshing barn looms over a lawn punctuated with zinnia ‘Dahlia Mix’ and white cosmos ‘Purity’.
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.
Above: The accommodating anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’ was made for black backdrops. Bare branches of a climbing rose take on sculptural qualities.
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’.
Above: Pink cosmos ‘Dazzler’ with the fuzzy-headed grass Pennisetum villosum.
Above: Verbena bonariensis congregate around the side door with an old concrete ramp.
Above: The final flush from rosa ‘Phyllis Bide’ wraps around the corner of an old stable.
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.
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.