Formal components have offered agency foundations within the backyard at Standen Barn, close to Biddenden, Kent — the house of Prof Roland Rosner and Prof Denise Lievesley. However additionally it is a backyard that’s planted for wildlife and surrounded by newly established woodland, reviews Tiffany Daneff. Pictures by Jason Ingram.

A backyard usually has to do a variety of heavy lifting — serving to to make a home appear comfy within the panorama; bringing collectively disparate components; hiding or enhancing views; and offering safety from prevailing winds. At Standen Barn in Kent, all of the above was required of 5 acres of flat, open discipline. The Fifteenth-century black-timbered barn had solely stood there for the reason that Nineties and, with its slim apron of paving, seemed out of kilter with its environment, so even earlier than there might be any detailed dialogue about what sort of backyard the house owners needed, there was a lot that required cautious consideration. Roland Rosner and Denise Lievesley realised it was too huge a undertaking to do themselves, so that they seemed for skilled assist. After some looking out, they had been really helpful Jo Thompson, who first visited the backyard in 2010.

Miss Thompson, who has received quite a few awards for her backyard designs and sits on the RHS Gardens Committee, instantly understood what the house owners needed; particularly, to strike a steadiness between a rustic backyard that mirrored the straightforward, timbered exterior of the barn and one thing that was fashionable and spoke to the sunshine and ethereal up to date inside. It was additionally vital to create views from the barn, in order that, from indoors, the home feels linked to its environment.

The terrace and the Fifteenth century barn © Jason Ingram

‘The simplicity of the traces was vital, notably in winter,’ says Miss Thompson, who, 13 years on, stays mates together with her purchasers, providing assist and recommendation. She proposed extending the terrace exterior the floor-to-ceiling home windows within the eating corridor and placing in an oblong reflecting pool surrounded by a cloister of hornbeam. This was to anchor the home, which had actually been plonked in a discipline — after being transported right here from close by Penshurst by a earlier proprietor — in addition to offering important peak and construction as you got here up the quick drive.

‘We thought her thought for the terrace was a lot too huge,’ remembers Prof Lievesley. ‘However we had been mistaken. The barn is three storeys excessive, so the terrace anchors it and is in proportion. A smaller one would have been out of scale.’

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“We had been about to clear the brambles within the woods when the nightingale arrived. It stayed with us all summer season”

The broader terrace, paved in limestone, extends past the barn partitions, offering area for desk, chairs and loungers, earlier than stepping as much as the garden. The aerial hornbeam hedge serves to display each the neighbouring home and the blended native hedge, which was then fairly skinny and scrappy, however has since stuffed out with the addition of many extra hazels, discipline maples and hawthorns. Elsewhere, hedges helped to cut back the wind and supply upright construction, dividing up the open discipline into completely different areas. Most significantly, Miss Thompson instructed making a walled backyard on the boundary to offer some peak, in addition to shelter from the wind, and to assist roses, clematis, vines and wisteria.

To hyperlink the home and terrace with the walled backyard, a collection of low, damaged hedges delineates a small, semi-formal, rectangular flower backyard of jewelled colors (roses, peonies, Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’), from which a mown path leads by a wildflower meadow to the walled backyard. Right here, with partitions to guard in opposition to the wind, planting beds stuffed with topsoil and compost offset the heavy clay soil. Roses and delicate herbaceous perennials billow over the gravel with grasses and euphorbias, giving one thing to catch the attention in winter, though the central focus is a sculpture. A second, smaller piece is positioned on the doorway path. As Miss Thompson felt this one seemed too diminutive, she added a timbered pergola with a false perspective to make the far sculpture seem bigger. On summer season evenings, when the partitions entice the scent of the flowers, it is a beautiful place to take a seat.

With many of the greater image laid out, the finer particulars had been prepared for filling in. A collection of rippling water tanks was positioned to be seen from the grand piano on the primary flooring, however of most significance was to backyard for wildlife. A lifelong lover of birds, Prof Lievesley needed a mattress exterior the kitchen window for buddleias and umbellifers, plus numerous feeders. An elliptical mattress close by is planted with grasses and cornus for winter stems, offering curiosity for people and canopy for wildlife.

The reflecting pool and hornbeam cloister set off an elliptical mattress planted for winter color with dogwoods and calamagrostis grass © Jason Ingram

At one level, the couple tried letting out a part of the sector for grazing, however had been unable to discover a appropriate smallholder. As a substitute, 9 years in the past, they made a brand new plan — to show two areas of tough floor into woodland. ‘We approached the Woodland Belief and its employees did a survey itemizing what they suppose would have been right here initially and what they instructed planting now.’ This was a mixture of native timber — discipline maple, beech, birch, holly and hazel, though not ash, as dieback is a giant drawback within the space. The belief obtained the timber and the whips went in that autumn, with a neighborhood teenager paid to water them by their first yr.

‘At first we had been shocked by how small the whips had been,’ remembers Prof Rosner. Now, practically all of the timber are 15ft–20ft excessive and thriving. Not too long ago, the professors contacted specialists at The Residing Forest in Cranbrook for recommendation on how one can take care of the woodlands. A pond was proposed for the moist patch past the hornbeam cloister, residence to nice crested newts. The opposite woodland might be given a clearing, permitting completely different plant species to develop and supply a larger number of habitats. ‘They instructed making a path to circle the sides, and one by the center, in addition to clearing the brambles, though they stated there was no have to skinny the younger timber as Nature would do that in time.’ Not too long ago, the professors joined Kent Landholders Aiding Wildlife and are thrilled by the variety of birds and different species they can appeal to by not over-manicuring the backyard.

The woodland areas have made this backyard and are offering that sense of permanence that was missing in 2008. It’s not solely in spring, both, when the brand new leaf emerges on the younger beeches and the birches sway within the winds. In winter, the attention is drawn to the shapes made by naked branches in opposition to the sky, in addition to to the numerous sculptural items the couple have gathered on their travels.

The final phrase should go to Prof Lievesley: ‘We had been about to clear the brambles within the woods when the nightingale arrived. It stayed with us all summer season and its music in the midst of the night time was beautiful!’

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