Visit this beautiful garden at 48 Woodmansterne Lane in Wallington

Gorgeous Gardens

Gorgeous Gardens - Credit: Archant

Home to garden designer Joanne Winn and her husband Graham, this beautiful oasis in Wallington will be opening through the National Gardens Scheme later this month

Set over one-third of an acre, the gardens at 48 Woodmansterne Lane in Wallington have been converted from a former smallholding into a lovely environment for Joanne and Graham Winn and their young family, as well as a haven for wildlife, winning the ‘Wildlife Garden’ category at the Sutton in Bloom awards in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

The bold, curvy design, brimming with textural and colourful combinations of grasses and perennials, has been built around the remaining trees of the original orchard, giving a play of light and shade across the landscape.

The garden was Joanne’s first project after graduating with distinction from a garden design course with Andrew Wilson at Merrist Wood in 2006, and she says she couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

“I had already had 11 years to think about what would work best, but early on, we had very little time to spend on the garden as we both had hectic working lives,” says Joanne. “Initially, we just tackled the weeds and brambles, as well as adding a greenhouse, removing an old air raid shelter complete with a hawthorn growing out of its roof, and opening up the views by lifting the crown of a huge holly tree and cherry plum in the centre of the garden.

“We knew we wanted to keep the garden’s naturalistic feel, both in layout and planting style, and it was important to us not to impact on wildlife and the surroundings. So we decided to retain the majority of the healthiest trees, introduce plants that would be beneficial to wildlife and keep hard landscaping to a minimum, using materials that blend with the cottage and beyond.”

Fruits of their labour

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As with all of her designs, Joanne was influenced by the scale of the house and its surroundings, designing the curvaceous, organic layout around the existing fruit trees, which include apples, plums and damsons, and working with the climatic conditions of exposure to wind and a soil with chalky areas and clay pockets. The needs of the family are also delightfully incorporated with a pretty Wendy house built by Graham for their daughter, and gravel paths wide enough to be ‘roads’ for their son’s mini Land Rover.

The structural elements include a naturalistic pond with stepped timber decking, a paved alfresco dining area by the house, a lattice-enclosed mini potager and an evergreen shrub framework. In high summer, the atmospheric planting wafts in the breeze, shimmering in shades of burgundy and purples from blocks of lavender, Allium sphaerocephalon and Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’, contrasted with splashes of tangerine and golden heleniums by the pond.

“I love to use large drifts of herbaceous plants and grasses amongst a framework of solid forms,” says Joanne. “I very much admire the planting of Tom Stuart Smith and Piet Oudolf but equally the simplicity and elegance of the contemporary style of Luciano Giubbilei.

“The garden has been carefully planted with structural plants to look good for most of the year, but the summer is the garden’s peak season when the borders are filled with a sumptuous display of flowers. I have given each area its own distinctive look, using harmonious colours and a restricted variety of plants set out in large swathes. To pull the look together, I have used some of the plants repeatedly in different areas, for example Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’.”

Bordered on three sides by fields that are home to sheep and cattle, and with a chicken run at the end for ‘Cluck Norris’, ‘Dotty’ and ‘Omelette’, there is a definite rural feel to the garden. Relaxing and entertaining are important elements, with loungers positioned in sunny and shady spots, while in the evenings candles and lanterns and even a table tennis table, set up on the lawn and illuminated by fairy lights, make the garden a much-used outdoor living room.

Now, Joanne and Graham are looking forward to their second opening through the National Gardens Scheme after an enjoyable experience last year.

Opening the gates

“It was a wonderful day,” says Joanne. “After a particularly challenging few months before, with the driest winter on record, the spring drought and then the hosepipe ban, followed by torrential rain and an invasion of slugs and snails, we thought our day was destined to fail – we were expecting locusts as we had everything else!

“But when the day arrived, the weather was perfect and a long queue had already formed, with the visitors making straight for the tea garden, which was set up near our chicken run and decorated with bunting. We served home-made teas from vintage china and sold home-grown plants – all of which we hope to do again this year.

“Around 450 people visited our garden in the three hours we were open, doubling the number anticipated. It was such a fantastic day and lovely to see other people relaxing and enjoying our garden.

“So now we’re looking forward to another successful opening – just fingers crossed for the sunshine!”

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