It is hard to believe that the Moongate Garden in East Preston, Sussex in a little over 2 years old. The garden has a ‘Chelsea’ element to it which is not surprising since it was designed in partnership with Nic Howard.
The garden divides itself not only into two halves but also into sixteen separate ‘areas’, each area carefully categorised by garden owners Derek and Helen. The Purbeck stone wall that straddles the garden has two openings; one, a ‘moongate’ leading to the less formal part of the garden and the other, a vertical window providing a glimpse through from the kitchen window.
The first half of the garden blends the living space with the outdoors. A canopy on the exterior of the house ‘brings the outside in’ and a continuous stone floor leads seamlessly into the garden where it continues as a path which becomes less formal towards the moongate. A circular lawn surrounded by a haze of purple alliums is the main feature in May, along with the two pools and of course, the hobbit house.
The intriguing Hobbit House, designed by the owners overlooks a lushly planted rectangular pool. A sedum roof flows down the side of the little house to a waterfall of plants which cascade towards the grit path. Inside is a hobbity little hideaway – a perfect retreat to sit and contemplate the tranquil sound of running water.
Mirrors are a strong feature in the garden too, each blackly painted fence panel brightly reflecting the garden through thoughtfully placed mirrors. A second, circular pool reflects the shape of the lawn.
I was excited to see what was beyond the Purbeck stone wall and as I walked through I spotted tiny fairies hiding in the crevices! The path leads through to the wilder side of the garden where clearly defined areas demonstrate a love of plants and different planting styles.
Another circular bed is surrounded by planting – a large border is packed with plants and overlooked by fruit trees growing against the wall. In the far corner, a fern-laden stumpery gives the appearance of a tiny fairy glade and a highlight was seeing a tiny fairy door set into the base of a tree. Another area, nicknamed ‘the Mound bed’ has cushiony mounds of shrubs presided over by two brightly coloured peacocks. (not real, I hasten to add).
A tiny Japanese garden links the mound bed to the rear of the hobbit house and you are back in the formal garden again. Beside the house, entertaining is the theme, with an outdoor kitchen and ingenious raised salad beds beside the kitchen.
This garden is only 50 x 15 metres but appears so much bigger due to the extensive planting. The owners are clearly passionate about their garden which will only improve as it matures. I can’t wait to come back in the summer and see how the planting has filled out.