Garden of the month: Charts Edge
PUBLISHED: 16:29 17 August 2014
The gardens at Charts Edge reveal a colourful array of late-season blooms as the season reaches its zenith
Since the Bigwood family moved to Charts Edge, near Westerham, in 1988 they have been restoring and developing the eight acres of garden and woodland that had been sadly neglected by previous owners.
Transforming that neglected garden surrounding the 1930’s house has been taken on enthusiastically with the addition of many unusual trees and shrubs.
Visitors now enjoy strolling the different areas of the restored gardens, including a dell garden at its best in spring with massed azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias and magnolias, along with a rock garden, terraces and a Victorian Folly.
Throughout summer the highlight of a visit must be the long meld of colourful borders, loosely based on a rainbow, framing a stepped rill, which has evolved from an idea conceived by Penny Bigwood.
“It came to me out of the blue. I thought it would be charming to have a rill down the middle and be surrounded by plants with a colour theme running through,” she explains.
It was decided to run the colours from white, through yellow, orange, red, pink, mauve, purple and blue, to black, a vision that has been created over time with an array of successional planting.
It has been an enjoyable challenge for all to find seasonal plantings in the correct colours to keep the display going from early spring through to autumn.
Tulips, pansies and primroses, followed by a rainbow of irises, blend into herbaceous plantings, augmented with additional bedding to keep the ‘wow factor’ going well into November.
September sees the climax of bright clashes of colour, with dazzling dahlias, penstemons, asters, salvias, rudbeckias, cosmos and hydrangeas, including the bi-colour ‘Pinky Winky’, drawing the eye.
“The highlight for me is the transition of late-summer colours, there is still so much there, and the beginning of subtle changes to autumn colours from the acers and liquidambars, with lighting making the effect very dramatic some days,” says gardener Liz Seaton, who works alongside her husband Nic, estate head gardener.
By regularly deadheading, watering from water butts and mulching every other year, the flowers cope really well with the late-summer heat. The stepped rill is a soothing, reflective contrast and potted topiary buxus add further structural focal points against the billowing planting.
The less formal areas of the garden then beckon exploration and another highlight is the delicious scent from the blooms of the Clerodendron trichotomum.
Projects continue to emerge and the latest addition is a series of beds showing the origin of many plants we may now grow at home, such as agaves from Mexico or tibouchinas from South America.
Beds cover plants from America, Africa, Europe, Russia and the Balkans to Japan, China, New Zealand and Australia.
Visitors are invited to make comments in the visitors’ book and overall throughout the season it’s the tranquil atmosphere of the gardens, less busy than many in the area, that is the most commented on. n
GET IN TOUCH
Charts Edge Gardens
Hosey Hill, Westerham TN16 1PL
Open: mid April to 14 September
Sundays and Fridays (2pm-5pm)
Admission: £4.50, children free
NGS opening: 7 September (2pm-5pm)