Christopher Bradley-Hole made a stir a few years ago with his Chelsea Flower Show garden, mainly consisting of different heights of boxwoods. Was it cold, was it inspirational? Maybe we just needed more time to decide; these abstract landscapes grow on you. We visit Bury Court in Hampshire, which has been growing for more than a decade:
Photographs by Clive Nichols.
Above: The Chelsea garden was a potted version of the English landscape, with its quilt of fields and hedgerows. It was almost all green. The garden at Bury Court is also green–turning to gold–as Bradley-Hole uses grasses to connect the garden space with the Hampshire landscape beyond.
Bury Court is divided into two sections: The Courtyard, which came first and was designed by Piet Oudolf in his early days, and the Front Garden, that of Bradley-Hole, which came after. The whole garden works as a mixture of informal naturalism (Oudolf) and formal simplicity (Bradley-Hole).
Above: As the grasses grow up over the season they undermine the linear formality. However the Central Oak Structure (designed by Bradley-Hole, above), reinforces the grid pattern of the garden. Viewed from within, the landscape is framed in every direction, by the oak uprights.
Christopher Bradley-Hole has written several books on modern garden design: The Minimalist Garden and Making the Modern Garden, in which he surveys the contemporary garden scene from around the world.
Above: Bradley-Hole mixes different types of grass together, along with meadow-like perennials (including Eryngium and Agastache shown here). They intermingle in gravel, edged with rusted cordon steel. The garden is laid out on a geometric grid pattern: the grasses shimmer and the planting flows, within strict limits.
Above: The Front Garden is criss-crossed with straight paths made of granite setts, to reflect the materials of the house, which is mainly pale stone and brick.
Above: A planting of silvery Stachys ‘Big Ears’, the dark Sedum ‘Matrona’, phlox ‘Rosa Pastell’, with Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’ to the rear (Left) and Agastache foeniculum (Right).
Above: A rectangular pond is home to a sculpture made from oak, by Paul Anderson. “Relic” oak is sourced from old barns, boats, gates, etc., and is transformed into garden sculpture or furniture.
Above: The blackened reflecting pool sits at the heart of the garden. On one side is this weathered oak garage, designed by Bradley-Hole and flanked by the tall grass Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’, which keeps its shape in winter. The pool sits between this building and the oak pavilion.