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Designer Visit: Arne Maynard at Home in Wales


Designer Visit: Arne Maynard at Home in Wales

October 13, 2014

Garden designer Arne Maynard, based in London and Wales, has been a longtime favorite of mine. Having grown up in the Dorset countryside, he knows his plants. That knowledge married with an architect’s training and an intuitive eye enable him to create well-balanced gardens that mix perfectly a sense of wildness and order. They always feel right for their setting.

Recently, while in London for the Chelsea Flower Show I decided to take a trip to visit Arne and his longtime partner William Collinson. They restored a charming 15th century Elizabethan folly called Allt-y- bela (meaning high wooded hillside of the wolf) over the border in Wales.

Photography by Tom Mannion.

Above: Allt-y-Bela is in the heart of the Black Mountains a few miles from the town of Usk, with spectacular views. Part of the house is run as a casual bed-and-breakfast with two well-appointed rooms with bath, fireplaces, and a bottle of Croft sherry at the ready for chilly evenings. In June, Arne offers courses for gardeners (they book up fast). Staying the night at a gardener’s home is a real treat, offering a chance to stumble around the grounds viewing the plantings and property in the best light–dawn and dusk–when most gardens are closed.

Arne took a slightly different approach from his last property to his gardens here. Since he is in high demand now both in Europe and America, he needed to design his own garden with a serious consideration to low maintenance. That’s not to say there isn’t an impressive garden; it’s just that it’s remarkably manageable for its scale and diversity.

Above: His signature whimsical topiaries are the first to greet you when you pull up the unmarked drive at the end of a narrow road. The house, painted a brave color of terra cotta, is a striking backdrop to Arne’s favorite palette of deep plums and richly purpled flowers. An intimate garden near the house enclosed in espaliered crabapples is filled with a wild look of bulbs and perennials. Your nose catches the intense scent of daphne, planted smartly near the kitchen door. Oversized containers are filled with intriguing color combinations.

Above: A cutting and kitchen garden tucked around the back of the house is beautifully maintained with charming rows of vegetables, trained gooseberries, and currants and bordered on the outside by a bold rhubarb bed, a favorite of Arne’s for puddings and jams.

Heading to Highgrove? See At Home With Prince Charles: A Garden Ramble.

Above: Inside the farmhouse is cozy. The decor focuses on deep mulberry browns for the walls and stone floors, large fireplaces dwarf rooms like the library and the “snug.” The furniture is 17th century oak tables and chairs with textiles strewn about and intriguing artifacts from Arne and William’s travels. For the hallway Arne had an artist friend, Cornelia O’Donovan paint a wall mural of all his favorite flora and fauna, from bunnies to fritillaries, it’s a nod to the old wall paintings in country piles.

Above: A detail of Arne’s auricula collection.

Above: Wisteria is trained on the side of the house. Foxglove jets out of the paving.

(N.B.: Battling your own unruly wisteria? See DIY: Train a Wisteria Vine Not To Eat The House.)

Above: The enclosed garden by the kitchen door makes for an welcoming entrance. Espaliered crabapples fence it in to form an intimate spot for afternoon tea. Whimsical topiaries, Arne’s signature gesture are like charming waiters attending to your needs.

Above: The cutting and perennial gardens are filled with Arne’s favorite plants like allium, poppies, and verbascum to name a few.

Above: The vegetable garden enclosed by a wattle fence and bordered by rhubarb.

Above: The designer Arne Maynard looking proud in his perennial gardens.

Above: Another view of the enclosed front garden.

Above: A small purple beech maze is a welcome and relaxing design statement on the property.

Above: Arne and William were inspired to paint their home this shade of Tuscan umber when they saw a similarly painted house on a trip to Ireland.

Above: The classic boot room with ancient stone floors.

Above: One of the bed-and-breakfast bathrooms painted in Arne’s preferred shade of mulberry brown.

Above: The kitchen with its traditional Aga stove and flagstone floor.

Above: Chocolate cosmos and salvias.

Above: The small stone waterfall adjacent to the upper perennial and kitchen garden.

Above: A look at Arne’s signature palette of purples and plums. Lupin, allium, and bronze fennel with spikes of verbascum blow in the breezes.

Designing a garden bed? Choose plants that look good together from our recent post, Color Theory: 10 Perfect Plant Combinations. For another garden designed by Arne Maynard, see A Downton Abbey-Worthy Garden.

N.B.: This is an update of a post published December 18, 2013.

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