The Victorian Aviary Garden
Designed by Philippa Pearson and Jonathan Denby
James Alexander-Sinclair takes us on a tour of Philippa Pearson and Jonathan Denby's garden, Silver Flora Medal Winner Winners at this year's Chelsea.
This is a garden that is meant to be a place to relax in, a sophisticated, secluded and colourful space themed around its centrepiece; an elegant Victorian aviary.
“The garden has a bird theme and whereas the Victorians would have had their aviary closed and filled with exotic birds, we’ve got our exotic birds on the outside,” explains Philippa.
The entrance to the garden is a stunning 4m by 3m jewel-like pebble peacock mosaic path, crafted by artist Maggie Howarth. This is edged with dozens of tiny ceramic birds. Craftsmanship and attention to detail are a feature of this garden design, the landscaping and walls are of Cumbrian stone and slate. The Aviary is designed and built by craftsmen from Cumbria and the garden will ultimately be relocated over there as a permanent feature after Chelsea.
On either side of the mosaic entrance path are two large boxed edged borders set in lawn. The borders have a very colourful contemporary planting of perennials, grasses and tulips. Behind this is a raised terrace built of Cumbrian slate where the gilt topped Aviary itself stands. It functions as an informal outdoor room and seating area - the two side wings planted with shrubs for year round interest.
The whole garden is enclosed by yew hedges, which are very typical of the late Victorian design period and set off the planting and the aviary beautifully. The grass, Stipa tenuissima gives a lovely soft backdrop to the other perennials which include mixed irises and Aquilegia ‘Nora Barlow’.
“Within these hedges the planting is more contemporary than traditional, not looking back to the Victorian period, but there are some very nice old plants in there,' explains Philippa, 'some old peonies and really bright colours like Geum ‘Mrs Bradshaw’, a beautiful sparkling orange.”
The upper terrace is planted with species from the woodland edge. Subtle shades of green from ferns, hellebores and pulmonaria are interspersed with splashes of colour from apricot and white foxgloves. There are trees each side of the aviary including Acer ginnala, a medlar, hornbeam and Sorbus intermedia.
What will happen to the garden after the show?
The Aviary garden is to be located and rebuilt in entirety at a Southlakes Hotel in Cumbria.
This garden has been awarded a Silver Flora medal by the RHS.
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