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Garden Visit: At Home with Author Catherine Horwood in a Suffolk Village

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Garden Visit: At Home with Author Catherine Horwood in a Suffolk Village

June 20, 2017

When Catherine Horwood Barwise bought a 16th-century townhouse in a picturesque west Suffolk village, she couldn’t immediately start work on her garden. Two years spent remodeling Richmond House meant a lot of thinking time: “It was really good for me—like so many gardeners I would have thrown everything in and then had to take things out,” she says. “It made me stop for the first time in my life. And I actually drew a plan.”

This was Catherine’s third garden; she’d already planted two London gardens including one roof terrace and she was rigorous about what she wanted: no staking, no watering, and a very long season of interest. Everything has to earn its keep in her formal garden (which is one of three gardens on her half-acre plot— there’s also a wilder spring garden and a formal kitchen garden).

Each year the gardening season kicks off with spring bulbs from February and lasts well into late autumn. We spent a magical afternoon in this inspiring space.

Photography by Clare Coulson for Gardenista.

 The formal garden is split into four roughly symmetrical beds and is very much influenced by the new perennial movement, as well as by Beth Chatto (whose nearby nursery at Elmstead has provided lots of plant inspiration).
Above: The formal garden is split into four roughly symmetrical beds and is very much influenced by the new perennial movement, as well as by Beth Chatto (whose nearby nursery at Elmstead has provided lots of plant inspiration).

Catherine, a former academic and writer, is currently writing Beth Chatto’s autobiography. Grasses, including Stipa gigantea, Molinia transparent, and S. barbata, keep the garden looking great right into late autumn and beyond. They also lend height to the the planting scheme.

 Achillea Terracotta and Allium spaerocephalon add dashes of apricot and deep plum to an area where there are many shades of blue and purple.
Above: Achillea Terracotta and Allium spaerocephalon add dashes of apricot and deep plum to an area where there are many shades of blue and purple.

The color palette is fairly restrained and Catherine tends to do repeat plantings across diagonals giving the garden a very dynamic feel.

The garden is on a much higher level than the house so Catherine has made a feature of that with a row of pleached hornbeams and an area for all her sun-loving pots.
Above: The garden is on a much higher level than the house so Catherine has made a feature of that with a row of pleached hornbeams and an area for all her sun-loving pots.

The gently sloping south-facing site beyond is perfect for grasses and sun-loving perennials.

Munstead Wood is one of Catherine’s many roses.
Above: Munstead Wood is one of Catherine’s many roses.

The garden has more than 50 varieties of rose. Some clamber up the original flint walls and were inherited with the garden. Others, like the Rosa Mutabalis that climbs up two rusted obelisks, is here because it will flower into November.

When they bought the house, Catherine and her husband, Paddy, installed a big swimming pool. To shield it from the rest of the garden, Catherine has planted a long wall of Calamagrostis &#8\2\16;Karl Foerster&#8\2\17;, an upright, airy grass that also looks great well into the autumn and winter.
Above: When they bought the house, Catherine and her husband, Paddy, installed a big swimming pool. To shield it from the rest of the garden, Catherine has planted a long wall of Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’, an upright, airy grass that also looks great well into the autumn and winter.
 There is unexpected color everywhere including this gorgeous Dianthus carthusianorum, a perennial that is very easy to grow from seed.
Above: There is unexpected color everywhere including this gorgeous Dianthus carthusianorum, a perennial that is very easy to grow from seed.
Tall spires and airy grasses contrast with good moun- forming perennials such as Geranium &#8\2\16;Rozanne&#8\2\17;. This hardworking geranium continues to flower into autumn with no cutting back. A turquoise arbor sits at the end of the garden’s central axis providing a focal point.
Above: Tall spires and airy grasses contrast with good moun- forming perennials such as Geranium ‘Rozanne’. This hardworking geranium continues to flower into autumn with no cutting back. A turquoise arbor sits at the end of the garden’s central axis providing a focal point.
 Intense colors and glistening grasses contrast with the foliage of shrubs like this Amsonia, a little-known plant and a favorite of designer Tom Stuart Smith that grows without staking and has gorgeous blue flowers in early summer. Later in the season, it becomes a trouble-free dome of foliage.
Above: Intense colors and glistening grasses contrast with the foliage of shrubs like this Amsonia, a little-known plant and a favorite of designer Tom Stuart Smith that grows without staking and has gorgeous blue flowers in early summer. Later in the season, it becomes a trouble-free dome of foliage.
Stipa giganta is a feathery grass.
Above: Stipa giganta is a feathery grass.

he grasses come alive in late afternoon light.

N.B.: Richmond House is currently for sale for £1.05m with David Burr.

See more of Catherine’s garden in Behind the Hedges: Catherine Horwood’s Secret Kitchen Garden.

For more plant palettes, see:

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