Glorious Abundance in a Pint-Sized Garden

I'm sure our giant green coach caused a few raised eyebrows as it pulled into the narrow residential street in Chelmsford, England. But homeowner Sheila Chapman took it all in her stride as she warmly welcomed our tour group to her pint-sized garden with a smile.

Homeowner Sheila Chapman opens her garden by appointment with proceeds going to the National Garden Scheme, a wonderful organization that supports a number of charities

Sheila is a well-known Royal Horticultural Society gold medal-winning exhibitor (now retired) and was keen to share her immaculately maintained garden with our excited group. Featuring a circular lawn, long pergola and walls festooned with an assortment of roses and climbers, Sheila's special interest in unusual clematis is also evident.

A dreamy, harmonious vignette featuring purple clematis, creamy lavender cotton (Santolina) and assorted perennials in shades of soft pink and blue

Yet it was her use of color that really caught my designer eye. Her garden was a carefully orchestrated series of vignettes featuring harmonious color schemes to great effect. The use of foliage to linked the vignettes was also well thought out both in the shaded and sunny areas.

I photographed this combination from every angle it was so striking. Love the repetition of the pom-pom flower heads of  the lavender ornamental onion (Allium), blue globe thistle (Echinops) and a cream cotton lavender (Santolina) juxtaposed with the vertical spikes of pink veronica

Although shades of lavender, blue and cream were dominant there was also one stunning combination featuring dahlias, daylilies and roses in a blend of apricot and coral that was truly breathtaking.

Totally mouthwatering! The color echoes between the key plants is carefully balanced with the dark foliage, cooling notes of a blue globe thistle (Echinops) yet also relates to the warm tones of the brick wall.

In a narrow shaded entry garden, silver and black were used as repeating elements to draw you into the main garden, with a few pops of gold from Japanese forest grass and a dusky rose heuchera, all spilling onto the flagstone pathway.

You can never go wrong when you design foliage first – and this narrow pathway shows how to do it in style, repeating key plants and colors down the length of the path with no bare earth visible

Layering is a key tenet of English garden design and this was also demonstrated in a generous way from ground covers to mounding perennials and shrubs punctuated with vertical elements including the expansive pergola draped with climbers. There was no bare earth visible.

The pergola and walls support a dizzying array of climbers that completely seduced our tour guests!

At just 250 square yards, this garden may be modest in size but that hasn't stopped Sheila from creating a remarkable and colorful oasis that proved to be one of our guests favorite destinations.

We are planning our 2024 tour to Devon and Cornwall as well as our 2025 tour to the Cotswolds. If you'd like to be notified of the details be sure to sign up for my newsletter and you will be offered priority registration as well as a useful FREE download of my top Travel Tips. You can do that here:

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  1. Roz on August 8, 2023 at 7:43 am

    I’d like to be on your email and blog list.

    • Karen Chapman on August 8, 2023 at 7:46 am

      Hi Roz, looks like you've found the sign up for the newsletter. The sign up for future blog posts is at the end of today's blog post. Glad you enjoyed it and welcome!