Britain’s creatives reveal their private garden sanctuaries in newly released book The Secret Gardeners. This beautifully presented book is packed full of stunning photographs, and gives us an insight into how famous folk live. I’ve already blogged about GBBO judge Prue Leith’s garden last week, and today I’m giving you a peek into designer Cath Kidston’s back garden. Plus, I’m giving away two copies of this impressive book in my blog competition, so read on to enter below…
Some of the gardens in The Secret Gardeners by Victoria Summerley are so vast that they’re more like a public park than a backyard! That said, it’s a rather handy book for finding gardening inspiration too – I’d love to have a country-cottage style back garden just like Julian Clary. The good news is that the garden I’m sharing snaps of today is a much more realistic and manageable plot in West London. Okay, it’s still huge, but Cath Kidston’s home has more of a ‘normal’ garden than most of the other spaces in this book, which is why I thought it would be a good one to share – enjoy!
The garden of designer Cath Kidston is set in one of those extraordinary corners of London – and there are quite a few of them – where the mood, light, architecture, noise and even the smells change abruptly as you turn from one street into another.
She lives near a major roundabout, with routes taking you on to two major motorways, including the main road to London’s Heathrow airport. It is one of those junctions that boasts a permanent queue of traffic in all directions. For Cath, however, the roundabout is a benefit, offering easy access out of London, while a tall building separating her from the main road provides a solid noise barrier and shelter from the north and west. Stand in her enclosed back garden and all you can hear is birdsong.The house is late 17th/early 18th century, flat-fronted, with the sort of proportions that make those of us who live in properties of a much later date deeply envious. The design of the outdoor space complements these proportions, with the main axis following a line that runs right through the house.
Cath and her husband, the record producer Hugh Padgham, bought the property in 2001, but didn’t get around to doing the garden until 2007, when Cath decided to design a new kitchen extension and revamp the garden at the same time. The kitchen is modern, glazed on two sides, and extends out into the garden from the back of the house. The units are simple and uncluttered, with a colour scheme of apple-green and white, and she wanted the garden to echo this contemporary style: “It is a luxury to have open space in London, and I was after something quite simple and airy,” she said.She drew up a sketch of what she wanted on the back of an envelope, but commissioned garden designer Brita von Schoenaich to make the design a reality. The property actually comprises three separate outdoor spaces: a back garden, a front garden and a river garden, which is across the road from the house, on the banks of the Thames. The back garden has its advantages – a lovely old 18th-century wall, for example – but it also has its challenges, the biggest of which is the fact that the lawn is not level, but slopes from side to side.
Brita’s ingenious solution was to install paving set out in a pattern that looks a bit like a bar chart, with slabs of different lengths extending into the lawn, parallel to the terrace. The kitchen floor is laid with the same stone as the terrace, which makes the latter appear larger by blurring the dividing line between inside and out.Her London garden is more contemporary than you would perhaps expect, and very much about structure, architecture, and simple shapes. The only really flowery bit of the back garden is not so much a border, she says, as a “jungly path”. In spring, it is a mass of dark tulips, before a cottage-garden mixture of foxgloves, irises, euphorbia, rock roses and fennel comes into flower. Honeysuckle and jasmine scramble up the old brick wall and in among the paving are clumps of Alchemilla mollis.
Beyond the canal is a small orchard, planted with quinces, and apple and cherry trees, with a little greenhouse bursting with pelargoniums tucked away at the back. This area also includes a vegetable patch alongside a small cutting garden full of dahlias, which she uses to decorate the house.
Cath is too busy to be a hands-on gardener – although Hugh takes charge of the mowing – but it is obvious that she loves flowers. She has strong ideas about what should be planted, and a very clear vision of the effect she wants to achieve. Fans of the Cath Kidston look might wonder whether the garden inspires her product designs, but I would say it’s the other way around: the inspiration for her homeware and fashion range – her childhood, vintage objects she has always loved – have influenced her ideas for the garden, especially at the front of the house.I hope you’ve enjoyed this look around Cath Kidston’s garden and that the photos have inspired your own plans for your garden. And now, on to the giveaway – you would win 1 of 2 copies of The Secret Gardeners by Victoria Summerley if you enter my competition via the Rafflecopter widget below. Two lucky winners will be picked at random from all entries once the giveaway has closed on 5th November and each winner will be sent a copy of this impressive book. Good luck!
Giveaway open to UK residents only. Competition runs from 15th October – 5th November 2017. Two winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter.