Tag Archives: Througham Court


August 11th, 2019 | 14 Comments »

Fences come in all shapes and sizes, yet in one way or another they all serve the same purpose: to separate one area from another. At Glen Villa, my garden in Quebec, the oldest fence separates a former farm field from a driveway.


It's obvious that this barbed wire fence is old -- the maple tree has grown around it.
It’s obvious from the way the tree has grown around it that this barbed wire fence was put up a long time ago.


An equally practical but more decorative fence is the one I designed to protect shrubs from the deer that are such a plague in country gardens. I found the style so effective that I’ve used it in fences in the upper and lower fields, the Asian meadow and the Upper Room.


I designed this fence made of steel posts and wire cable to be attractive but as invisible as possible from a distance.
I designed this fence made of steel posts and wire cable to be as invisible as possible from a distance and attractive up close.


A totally impractical but decorative fence in the Asian Meadow uses ornamental Chinese tiles inset into a low wooden fence to delineate the edge of the meadow and separate it from a picnic area.


Decorative Chinese tiles are set into a simple wooden structure.
This photo shows how important hard landscaping can be in areas where snow comes early and stays late.


One of the most attractive deer fences I’ve seen is the one below, spotted in the Bridge Garden on Long Island. The casual arrangement of long sticks is a variation of a Japanese style.


This simple structure and imaginative structure is an effective protection against the deer.
This simple and imaginative structure is an effective protection against the deer.


Compare it, for example, to this more formal fence at the Morikami Japanese Garden in Florida.


Tied bamboo fences are a staple of many Japanese gardens.
Tied bamboo fences are a staple of many Japanese gardens.


Some fences are purely practical but even practical fences needn’t be unattractive. I saw the one below at Madoo, the Long Island garden of the late Robert Dash, and while its material is utilitarian, its colour lightens the surroundings and adds interest to the plants at its base.


This fence probably screens an unattractive sight at Madoo, Robert Dash's garden on Long Island. It picks up on the strong primary colours used throughout the garden.
The strong green is repeated throughout the garden along with other strong primary colours.


Some fences make strong visual statements. At Veddw, the Welsh garden created by Anne Wareham and Charles Hawes, an opening into a farm field needed to be fenced. The ground on one side was much higher than the ground on the other, and the land sloped markedly from end to end. They solved this problem with imagination, and at low cost, by using slats of varying heights.

The uneven slats make a virtue of uneven ground.
The uneven slats make a virtue of uneven ground and create an interesting silhouette.


A similarly imaginative fence is at The Grove, the garden of the late David Hicks, where the silhouettes of famous landmarks decorate one side of a very plain fence.


A skyline at The Grove.
An over-the-top fence at The Grove features the Parthenon among other buildings. How many can you identify?

For a fence that illustrates the interests of the gardener, one designed by Christine Facer Hoffman, a medical scientist turned garden designer, tops my list. Ms Facer Hoffman’s dog is named Pi and this fence makes his name a reality… it is an endless sequence of numbers listing the decimal points of pi. The fence is also practical, keeping gravel out of the vegetable garden.


An aesthetically pleasing fence
The low metal  fence that surrounds the vegetable garden at Througham Court is aesthetically interesting. I wonder, though, if anyone has ever tripped over the raised numbers.


It’s easy to install a low-cost utilitarian fence, but how much more interesting it is to design one that suits the situation, the interests and the aesthetics of the garden owner. A wonderfully contemporary fence at Pensthorpe Nature Reserve combines open and closed spaces, a principle that informs many garden designs.  At first glance, the fence is a solid barrier.


A mass of flowers soften the appearance of the fence.
A mass of flowers soften the appearance of the fence.


But as you walk alongside it, the fence opens to allow flowers to peep through.

I love the combination of materials and colours in this Corten steel fence at Pensthorpe Nature Reserve.
I love the combination of materials and colours in this Corten steel fence at Pensthorpe Nature Reserve.


Designing a fence like this takes skill and imagination. Add the wonderfully toned plants and you have a winner.





Paths with Pizazz

August 4th, 2019 | 4 Comments »
The cmbination of regular and irregularly shapes stones along with the plants that break up the stones makes this path at Malverleys particularly appealing.
Many garden paths are ordinary, designed simply to get you from one place in the garden to another. Grass paths, the simplest and least costly type of path to make, appear in gardens so routinely that they almost disappear. Occasionally, though, you'll see a path that stands out. The grass path below is an example. It is well maintained and nicely curved but what lifts it out of the ordinary is the white line that edges it. That line draws your eye along the curve and makes the path itself impossible to ignore.


Visiting Gardens: Nine Do’s and a Don’t

April 20th, 2016 | 10 Comments »
John Coke, owner of Bury Court in , has a wealth of knowledge about the plants in his garden which he freely shares.
Visiting gardens is one the joys of my life. For the last four years, I've been hosting small group tours to gardens in Britain and Italy, working alongside an outstanding professional travel agent based in Vancouver. Julia Guest at Travel Concepts does the detailed planning that is essential to ensure a good garden tour. Without her work, the tours couldn't happen. Without the cooperation of individual garden owners, the tours wouldn't be as inspirational. And without the companionship of the men and women who have been part of the tours, they


Doing the Unexpected

November 15th, 2015 | 12 Comments »
Colour and shape smack you in the face.
Does your garden suffer from the blahs? You know, that late season feeling when everything looks past its best before date and a walk around the garden drags you down? That's how my garden has been looking recently, and that's how I've been feeling. But I may have found a remedy. To prepare for a short talk I gave last week, I flipped through my photographs of gardens in Scotland and the north of England. Some photos I passed by quickly, others made me stop for a second look. Why?


Who’s Copying Who?

March 30th, 2015 | 16 Comments »
The symbolism of the ball on a stainless plate eludes me. Something to do with the cosmos, I suppose.
An earlier version of this post referred to a photo found on line and credited there to the Cultural Landscape Foundation. Thank you to Christine Facer Hoffman for pointing out that the photo said to be of the Garden Cosmic Speculation was actually her own photo, of her own garden at Througham Court. For my review of this intriguing garden see http://thinkingardens.co.uk/reviews/art-or-science-a-review-of-througham-court-by-pat-webster/   The post I wrote about where my garden ideas have come from  (http://www.siteandinsight.com/reflections-and-inspirations/) generated a lot of interest and feedback. The degree of interest prompted me to consider which other garden


You Read it Here First!

February 27th, 2015 | 15 Comments »
The band of muscari that whips its way across the grass at Glen Villa was inspired by a photograph on the front of a garden catalogue. I later learned that the photo was taken at Keukenhoff.
I'm a big fan of ThinkinGardens, the British website edited by Anne Wareham. While the bulk of the posts relate to gardening and gardens in England, posts also cover topics of wider interest. As the website itself says, it's a website "for people who want more than gardening from gardens." ThinkinGardens isn't modest or retiring, and neither is its editor. Both aim at controversy, or at least at generating discussion about gardens, garden design, garden practices and philosophies. The website is a compendium of writing that challenges assumptions and makes readers


Througham Court: A Garden of Ideas

January 13th, 2015 | 7 Comments »
Througham Court 2013-116
Are gardens intellectual endeavours or places to soothe the spirits? If a garden is intended to be a conceptual work of art, does it succeed if it has to be explained? And what responsibility rests on the person viewing the garden to understand the ideas that shaped it? Make the questions personal: should I have to work to understand what a garden is about or is it enough merely to enjoy what I see? If I don't understand the ideas, on what basis do I judge the garden? Visiting Througham Court in


Smoke and Mirrors: More Reflections in the Garden

November 17th, 2014 | 6 Comments »
Taken at the Cass Sculpture Park in Sussex, England
Two weeks ago I wrote about using water in a garden to reflect the things around it. Water has been used this way for a very long time, and often with a warning attached: think back to the Greek legend of Narcissus, the young boy who fell in love with his reflection in a pool and died. Reflections are tricky things, full of symbolism and possibility. Consider mirrors, for example. Viewed positively, they are a way of looking inward and gaining self-knowledge; viewed negatively they are signs of vanity and excessive self-regard. Which explains


Circles in the garden

August 5th, 2013 | 3 Comments »
Does nature abhor a straight line?  Writing about triangles at Througham Court made me think about shapes and the effects that different shapes create. Looking through my photos, I noticed lots of rectangles. Squares appeared, but less often, and usually in formal settings. And then there were circles. They were used frequently in some gardens, not in all in others. I started to wonder why. The circular mound at Througham Court Traditionally, the circle is a symbol of unity and perfection. Since all points of a circle are equidistant from