Cheer up winter with memories of a sunlit Suffolk Garden
PUBLISHED: 18:01 16 February 2015 | UPDATED: 18:01 16 February 2015
Jane Crowe visited Amelia Singleton's Sibton garden in full summer bloom. Pictures by Clare Dawson
A garden is a delight to the eye, a solace to the soul, and produces that pleasure which is a foretaste of Paradise.”
Sa’Di 13th century
Approaching Wood Farm on a gently rising tree-lined track these musings of a Persian sage are seemingly prophetic.
This is a place where flowers know no boundaries, are joyfully free to drift and dwell unhindered among ancient buildings.
Billowing clouds of blue and pink geranium, silvery fennel, and purple verbena bonarienis surround the warmly painted farm house, and escape through the picket fence to form a welcome on the shingle paths. Poppies and ammi major, campanulas and gaura waft towards the lake, where a sea of blue surrounds a pristine white table. And there are butterflies everywhere.
Beside the drive, the skeleton of a venerable old barn forms a climbing frame for cascading roses and clematis. Sanders White and St Swithun, and C.Madame Julia Correvon festoon the beams and form a three dimensional background for the exuberant planting within. Soft pink roses, geums and Cleome, foxgloves, linaria and Japanese anemone, their colours intensified by a splash of bright turquoise from an elderly cauldron. The effect is quite breathtaking and one needs to take one’s time to absorb the abundance of treasures that nestle within.
The idyll doesn’t stop there. There is a truly impressive herbaceous border, a poem of blues and yellows, that leads on through an archway to a dreamily gentle garden of white willow herb, lilies, daisies and verbascum. Outside the office is a charming courtyard with plants spilling around an Etruscan style urn, all blues and silvers, and warm accents of orange.
This is a seemingly endless tour of delight, and at this point one knows for certain it is the work of a deeply intelligent mind.
Amelia Singleton is a garden designer who really does know her plants and her land. She has the added gift of an artists’s eye for colour and composition. Here planting may have an unstructured informality and a philosophy that allows the flowers to spread and seed at will, but the choice of those plants and the spectrum of their colours are very carefully considered and controlled.
As with all successful schemes, the answer really does lie in understanding the soil. Wood Farm sits on a seam of very heavy clay, so before starting any of her projects, Amelia prepares the land meticulously, removing all traces of former vegetation and adding copious quantities of grit and compost to improve fertility and structure.
Making the compost is a serious affair, and with the help of her husband and the appropriate machinery, she produces it on a semi-industrial scale. All the detritus from the garden is collected, shredded, piled and regularly turned to produce a precious medium full of the nutrients that soils require. After the beds have been planted they are never mulched, as this would prevent the proliferation of seeds, Rather compost is given to specific plants that have need of extra nourishment.
Amelia freely admits that the gardening at Wood Farm is labour intensive, but when designing for other people she’s more than happy to devise schemes that are not so demanding. Her plans are plant based and of a style that suits the setting – a village house might require a more formal approach for instance, than a garden in the midst of the countryside, and she is sensitive to the needs of her clients.
In Sibton she has created a flagship for her enterprise – a place of ethereal beauty, of peace, harmony and inspiration.