Monday, 29 May 2017

Penshurst Place and Gardens - Kent

Wow, what an amazing garden. If you enjoy gardens, grandeur and history then this is a must see. It is a living, breathing English country estate that has been in one family since 1552 and is currently owned by Philip Sidney, 2nd Viscount De L'Isle MBE, Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of Kent.

The house and landscape here is steeped in history, you feel as though you are walking round a living, breathing museum but without the crowds or stuffy atmosphere. There are people picnicking on the manicured lawns next to an Elizabethan parterre and others enjoying afternoon tea in the café overlooking a 14th Century tower.

The garden is particularly thrilling due to its use of garden rooms and surprise vistas. Walking through a relatively small 'garden room' containing a pond or some fabulous sculpture that takes your interest on a detailed level you then duck through an arch in a dark green yew hedge and are met with a massive walkway and views on a completely different scale.

This play with scale excites the mind as you move around the space, constantly being drawn between small detail and larger, grander views.

Although this garden is set at a huge scale it is so inspirational that we can take many of the design ideas and use them in our own projects. The  phrase 'garden room' may have been coined by modern designers but as we see here it has worked in practice for hundreds of years, breaking up even a medium sized garden can result in it being far more interactive and making it feel bigger.

One of the most inspirational areas in the garden is the 'Grey and White Garden'. This is a popular colour palette with my clients who want a cool and relaxing place to escape from the city life. Here it has been created with great skill and plantsmanship, mixing silver foliage with soft white flowers entices you to feel calm and relaxed.

Despite the garden's air of aristocracy there is humour and a human scale to the space. A garden devoted to Jacqueline Viscountess De L'Isle, late mother of the present Viscount De L'Isle by her loving family and quirky sculptures around the space bring a sense of family to the garden.

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