Creating the new tennis lawn border at Nymans

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By Issie Stratton (Nymans Careership trainee 2008 - 2011)

As part of my three year training at here I was given the task to renovate the Tennis Lawn Border using plants from the Mediterranean climate regions of the world. Quite an ambitious project for a beginner, but a fantastic opportunity for research and developing my gardening skills.

The lawn itself is one of our more formal but over recent years the border had become a mishmash of plants with an invasion of couch grass. Although lovely plants the design of the border did not present them well and it was often a more forgotten part of the garden.


Research has been the key to this project. I have studied books and visited numerous gardens. I also received a grant from the Martin McClaren European Gardens Exchange Scheme to visit the gardens of Barcelona.

From this research I compiled an extensive plant list which was gradually refined through discussions with the Head and Assistant Head Gardeners. What I was left with is a collection of plants that encompass the spirit of Nymans. Thanks to the Messel's legacy of experimenting with the plants they grew I am able to fill the border with exciting rarities and tender species.

Implementing the design

During 2010 clearance began. Cuttings were taken of the more special plants and the herbaceous elements were removed.

The couch grass was treated with glyphosate over the summer. In the autumn all of the plants were removed and a last attack was forged on the weeds. We then levelled and mulched the border with our own compost.

Originally the tennis lawn would have been a formal part of the gardenwith a defined edge. I wanted to recreate that so this spring Chris and I laid a new sandstone edge using stone from Philpots, a local Sussex quarry that Nymans has used for over 100 years.

I spent a long time sourcing my plants as some of them are quite rare. It took me 3 days to plant up the border with the help of the garden team.

Reflecting back

Creating the new tennis lawn border has been a fantastic experience and I hugely enjoyed having my own part of Nymans to manage.

Please come and have a look at the newly planted border. It has been a labour of love and I hope it becomes another highlight of a visit to our gardens.