Peter’s Paradise – A London Detour

P1050653This blog post is not in Paris or even in France, but as my friend, Landscape Designer Peter Beardsley, opened his beautiful private garden to the public this summer, I wanted to share it with you.

P1050673Peter’s brick terrace, on a leafy street near Crouch Hill, north London, looks at first view like all the others, but as you step through the hedge, a lush garden packed with colour and texture is revealed.  It is not only charmingly designed, but is a plantsman’s paradise, full rare and unusual plants that Peter has collected over the years.  The plot is long and thin and stretches down over a series of terraced garden rooms to a small wilder woodland area.  Throughout the garden, Peter has used reclaimed and recycled materials in a very imaginative way.

P1020052The back of the house is covered with a veranda where Peter and his partner sit to drink their morning coffee. A kiwi vine (Actinidia arguta) rambles up to the balcony of the neighbours above.

P1020050A waterbowl, home to a dwarf water-lily and a family of goldfish, sits on the terrace outside the house.  Peter rescued this former 1950’s civic planter and found a lovely way to recycle it.  The paving is made from reclaimed concrete slabs. Weathered and laid in an elegant staggered bond, they too have been given new life.

P1050695A narrow gravel path passes through the garden and in June, the visitor is assailed with the scents and colour of the plants brushing against their legs.  The sight of the charming wooden greenhouse leads you forward on a voyage of discovery through a rich mix of unusual plants.

P1050676Digitalis ‘Pink Chapel’

P1050665Nicotinia langsdorfii

P1050656Not only does Peter’s greenhouse play host to tomatoes and cacti, but also to his collections of handmade pots, vintage hurricane lamps, and Victorian clay pipes found in the soil.

P1020068

P1050688The retaining walls and steps in the garden have been built from old railway sleepers.  On the second terrace, raised beds are filled with cutting flowers, herbs and vegetables.  The impressive flowering stems of a Crambe cordifolia can be seen here to the left.

P1050691Peter found this old lampshade in a skip.  With the outer covering removed, it makes a delightfully sculptural support for peas.

P1050689The garden becomes wilder as it slopes down towards to the end of the garden.  A third terrace and barbecue area, complete with comfy sofas and a hammock, has been built here to catch the afternoon sun.  A vigorous Kiftsgate rose, smothered in white flowers, rambles into the trees.

Practical Information

Peter’s garden was open in June this year through the National Garden Scheme, an organisation that encourages people to open their gardens for charity.  It is an excellent way of visiting private gardens in the UK.  Fingers crossed that Peter will open his garden next year too!  If you are near Crouch Hill, I also recommend a walk along the disused railway that is now a green walk open to the public called Parkland Walk.

Peter’s garden will also feature in an article in Garden’s Illustrated Magazine sometime in 2015.  If  you have a garden design project in mind and would like Peter’s advice, feel free to drop me a line and I will put you in touch with him.

Lynda Harris is a Landscape and Garden Designer based in Paris.

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