A touch of Italy in the sunk garden at Nymans

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Latest update 07.05.2013 12:49

The garden at Nymans is being redeveloped, focused on and inspired by our Conservation Management Plan (CMP). This research tool helps us to discover new gardening methods by understanding how the Messel family, the creators of Nymans, gardened here.

The CMP is the foundation of our Garden Rediscovery programme, of which the sunk garden redesign is a part.

What's our brief?

To improve formality, presentation and sense of scale, while maintaining an enclosed feel. The loggia (summerhouse) is a key feature and has lost prominence amid overgrown shrubs. We're reasserting it as the focus of this area. The sunk garden now also hosts weddings and so the planting needs to reflect this.

And the design itself?

Inspired by the loggia, the design is Italianate in style. Avenues of Cupressus sempervirens 'Stricta' flank the entrances and sit either side of the loggia itself.

Looking across the main lawn from the house entrance, avenues of cypress draw the eye to the sunk garden, creating a frame for the central urn and West Sussex views beyond.

An evergreen ring of rare and important camellias will be kept from the current scheme, and planted either side of the loggia. The camellia shrubs opposite the loggia will be removed and replaced by cylindrical yew columns, standing astride beds of standard roses underplanted with Nepeta ‘Dawn till Dusk’. This allows better movement of air and light.

Beds surrounding the urn in the centre of the sunk garden have been planted with Deschampsia cespita, accompanied by the white long-lasting plumes of Gaura lindheimeri ‘Whirling Butterflies’.

The design will be carried out in two stages over a two-year period.

Starting out: Stage one 2011-2012

Last winter we removed rhododendron and camellias that obscured views, with instant results. Rare camellias have been regeneratively pruned and they're already sending out healthy new shoots. Propagation of significant camellias is under way and will continue.

Italian cypress trees have been planted and wonderfully accentuate both entrances and the loggia. The old colourful bedding displays have been replaced with an elegant perennial design more suited to weddings.

This winter: Stage two 2012-2013

Stage two will see us:

  • move rare and important camellias to form a ring surrounding the loggia
  • prepare and plant outer beds with standard roses and nepeta
  • remove existing yew hedges and front-line camellias
  • plant yew columns