CORNWALL GARDENS: MEDITERRANEA ON THE ROSELAND

PUBLISHED: 11:15 02 September 2015 | UPDATED: 13:01 30 August 2017

Nathan Outlaw 2

Nathan Outlaw 2

Head to the Roseland Peninsula and the gardens of Parc-Lamp in the heart of Ruan Lanihorne on the Roseland peninsula

Parc-Lamp in the heart of Ruan Lanihorne on the Roseland peninsula has an enviable south-facing position and beautiful views over the village church, writes LOUISE DANKS

On entry from the road and a flight of creamy-white travertine steps under the arching stems of Stipa gigantea with its beautiful golden seed heads gives the first hint of the type of garden this might be. Stepping out onto a generous terrace separating the house from the garden, mature citrus trees in-fruit stand in large terracotta pots framing the back door and there is no question.

My love of Mediterranean gardens comes from holidaying in Crete. This garden is very different to my last which was in North Cumbria. This garden is smaller, the climate is completely different, I had to learn what would grow here.’ Kathleen Ward’s focus and attention to detail add up to what is an entirely authentic interpretation of a Mediterranean garden and what’s more, it is in a very small space.

Kathleen moved from northern Cumbria to Cornwall in 2007, I felt excited by the challenge of a new and different garden. I wanted to see just how far you could go in creating a Mediterranean garden in England.’

It’s almost impossible to emphasise enough that this does not feel like a small garden. It was important that the whole garden couldn’t be seen at once. It gives the illusion of being much bigger,’ explains Kathleen.

The gravel paths edged with graded pebbles that meander through give the impression of sun-baked river beds, long ago dried to nothing. The canopy overhead has been achieved partly by Kathleen unashamedly planting mature specimen trees and shrubs to start with but also by the warm and sheltered microclimate that exists here, plants simply thrive.

The result being an impressive oasis of texture and form, all shades of green with foliage accents in acid yellow provided by Robinia frisia and Choisya ternata, and deep purple in the form of Cotinus coggygria Royal Purple’.

This garden relies heavily on vegetation for its impact, there are few flowers. Those which bloom are used sparingly and selected carefully, A friend once described the flowers here as the jewels of the garden’ says Kathleen.

An avenue of black mulberry take centre-stage at the front of the house, carefully shaped into tight balls on poker-straight stems, these beauties are under planted with a restrained palette of purple; lavender, Verbena bonariensis, alliums, scabious and rosemary all flower in succession, peaking in August. Kathleen explains how she decided to develop this area; Instead of trying to disguise this long, thin space, I decided to make a feature of it. It was a bit of a gamble but I’m glad I was brave as the mulberries are a real talking point with people who visit.’

The path below this avenue is narrow and as such, insists that visitors brush against the rosemary, lavender and prostanthera which overhang releasing the fragrance and further adding to the Mediterranean effect as do the large terracotta pots bursting with agapanthus that are spaced along the length of this path. I am always thinking about what will work, what fits the style. I don’t just go to a nursery and buy what I like. I have to be more focussed than that.’

Great consideration has gone into how the garden can be used. A tool shed is carefully tucked behind the house with a herb garden, a screen of Phyllostachys aurea – the golden stemmed bamboo with its lower stems stripped to expose as much of the stunning colour as possible is under planted with astrantia, this combination hides the oil tank and recycling boxes. In a further corner of the garden is a summer house, benches positioned for access to the best views or in just the right amount of shade when it’s hot, this garden has obviously taken a great deal of work but it is definitely one which has had as much thought put into how it can be enjoyed.

Opening the French doors of the sun room directly into the garden and you are greeted by a trio of olive trees, one of which Kathleen is gently training into a weeping specimen, glancing left is a short, low, fluffy hedge of artemisia and a chamaerops palm surrounded by ferns. Beyond this is the golden foliage of the robinia and choysia with blue delphiniums completing this striking combination.

Continuing to the back of the garden under an ornamental arch planted with clematis, a grape vine and sweet peas is another area of foliar fancy. A loquat with its prominently veined leaves and a fatsia reflecting light from its glossy deeply lobed leaves work together in a large-leaved partnership adding interest and texture.

A discretely positioned summer house and a further vantage point from which to pause and observe the garden. Peering through a screen of bamboo and stipa under the branches of a cotinus and cercis with herbaceous highlights of Crambe maritima and the statuesque cardoon, it is a thrilling sight.

Don’t be fooled by its size, Parc-Lamp is crammed with enough interest for a garden 3 times its size. It is a study in what can be done in a small garden and how it can work on a practical level as well as an aesthetic one.

Kathleen’s dedication to the Mediterranean theme is unwavering in its authenticity; this space is seriously stylish and utterly convincing.

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