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Garden Tour: A Bungalow’s Country Garden Gains Modern Touches

This spacious plot has blooms and grasses, as well as a productive kitchen garden and wildlife-welcoming areas

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When Neil Summerfield moved to his home, the keen gardener had the joy of plenty of space to work with. The bones of a fabulous plot were there, including a big pond, a woodland area and a large field. But he wanted to bring structure to the large garden and include more borders, raised beds and paths through the space, as well as introduce a vegetable garden and a greenhouse. He just needed some help…

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Garden at a Glance
Who lives here Neil Summerfield
Location Near Wallingford, Oxfordshire
Property An extended chalet bungalow
Garden size Around 16,200 sq m
Designer Karen Simpson of Oxford Garden Design

Photos by Nick Atkins

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Neil called on Oxford Garden Design for design advice and landscaping work to transform his promising outside space.

The area of the garden immediately behind the house has a feel different from the remainder, as seen in the previous photo. “It was given a contemporary look to contrast with the country setting,” says Sheena Marsh, director of Oxford Garden Design. “Because the house extension is modern, we used corten steel planters with grasses so the area matches the house.” Stipa gigantea was planted among gravel that has brown flecks that reflect its colour. The seating area is paved with Indian sandstone.

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Before Photo

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BEFORE The starting point for the garden “wasn’t terrible”, says Marsh. “The main problem was that there was a lot of land and it was mostly fields.”

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Sleepers were used to create the raised beds near the house, while other beds in the garden have a steel edging. “Different planting areas require different styles of raised beds, depending on the look you want to achieve,” says Marsh.

Here, the red flowers of Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ and the bronze planters for the grasses create a vibrant modern effect.

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The paths through the garden are mostly gravel. “It was chosen because it’s a local stone gravel, and also for economy,” says Marsh. “Paving slabs are a luxury for large areas and the gravel looks really good here.”

The purple flowers on the left are salvia. “The colours were important,” says Marsh. “In the raised beds, there are much more vibrant plants that want full sun. The woodland part tends to have pastel-coloured flowers.”

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An arbour leads the eye through to the kitchen garden. “It’s surrounded by a beech hedge with a circular bed in front of the entrance to the greenhouse,” says Marsh.

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The raised beds, including those for vegetables, were all new additions to the garden. “Raised beds are good because you can keep topping them up with compost and manure,” says Marsh. “And they’re easier to get to.”

The bed in front of the greenhouse is planted with lavender, with a yew tree positioned centrally to create a focal point. Espaliered fruit trees grow on the fences.

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“The pond was already in the garden, but it was a little bit overgrown,” says Marsh. Once brought back in hand, the pond could be improved. “We put some planting in and Neil, our client, did lots, too.”

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Neil added a bench overlooking the pond and placed sculptures around it. “Views through the garden were important,” says Marsh. “There are a lot of strategic views with seating so Neil can sit in different parts of the garden and look back at it.”

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This path leads the way to the woodland area. “These plants need full sun, so there’s a lot of vibrant colour,” says Marsh.

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The trees in the wooded area were already there, but new underplanting and landscaping boosted the interest of the area. “We put in some grasses and other woodland plants, and introduced the winding gravel path to take you on a journey through the woodland garden,” says Marsh.

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Grasses were used throughout the garden. “They bring texture and movement to it, and they almost whisper in the wind,” says Marsh.

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The structure at the far end of the garden is a beehive. “The area is left natural but with mown paths,” says Marsh. “It’s more or less as nature intended and that’s what attracts the bees.”

Beehive from Bee Kind Hives.

What are your tips for combining contemporary and country styles in a garden? Share your photos and ideas in the Comments section.
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