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Before & After: A Kitchen Garden in Sussex, England

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Before & After: A Kitchen Garden in Sussex, England

February 24, 2017

A kitchen garden isn’t usually the first area to be tackled when a complete house and garden remodel gets underway but in the bucolic setting of West Sussex, garden designer Annie Guilfoyle of Creative Landscapes was called upon to do just that. While the existing red brick house was razed to the ground and a new one built, Guilfoyle created a three-tiered kitchen garden on a steep slope to the side of the property. We take a closer look.

Photography courtesy of Annie Guilfoyle.

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Above: Annie Guilfoyle’s kitchen garden includes beds of colorful dahlias.

The area had already been used as a vegetable garden, but one of the first tasks was to make this sloping site more workable by installing three terraced areas. At the top a cutting garden was created with a pond and a seat to take in the far-reaching countryside views.

The middle level is used as a vegetable garden and the lower level is dedicated to growing fruit.
Above: The middle level is used as a vegetable garden and the lower level is dedicated to growing fruit.

Before

Guilfoyle removed an enormous leylandii hedge that surrounded the original plot to make the new kitchen garden visible.
Above: Guilfoyle removed an enormous leylandii hedge that surrounded the original plot to make the new kitchen garden visible.

Instead of the towering hedge, a more attractive beech hedge was planted along with rabbit-proof fencing to protect crops.

After

“Once upon a time kitchen gardens were hidden away behind walls far away from the house but now they are something to be celebrated,” says Guilfoyle.
Above: “Once upon a time kitchen gardens were hidden away behind walls far away from the house but now they are something to be celebrated,” says Guilfoyle.
The paths were originally made in self-binding gravel but this was quickly coated in moss which over time could become slippery and hazardous, so the wider path (designed to easily accommodate a wheelbarrow) have now been made with sandstone paving and chunky gravel used on the narrower, subsidiary paths.
Above: The paths were originally made in self-binding gravel but this was quickly coated in moss which over time could become slippery and hazardous, so the wider path (designed to easily accommodate a wheelbarrow) have now been made with sandstone paving and chunky gravel used on the narrower, subsidiary paths.
Rather than attempting to drag hefty loads up the steps, Guilfoyle came up with a clever solution; clever stairways with a central ramp for wheelbarrow wheels.
Above: Rather than attempting to drag hefty loads up the steps, Guilfoyle came up with a clever solution; clever stairways with a central ramp for wheelbarrow wheels.
The design includes ways to use up all existing space.
Above: The design includes ways to use up all existing space.

The retaining walls around each area are made from oak sleepers that double as planters for espalier fruit trees, which will not take up much space but will provide visual interest and, of course, more produce.

The elegant greenhouse from Hartley Botanic not only creates a very pretty focal point in the garden but also allows the owners to start sowing seeds very early in the season.
Above: The elegant greenhouse from Hartley Botanic not only creates a very pretty focal point in the garden but also allows the owners to start sowing seeds very early in the season.
The greenhouse is flanked with cold frames, also from Hartley Botanic.
Above: The greenhouse is flanked with cold frames, also from Hartley Botanic.
The clients wanted to have a fruit cage that was big enough to walk into.
Above: The clients wanted to have a fruit cage that was big enough to walk into.

Guilfoyle sketched a simple design and her contractor built it, adding a finial on the top as a final flourish. The inside of the cage has a central gravel path for access.

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