Garden: 51 The Chase, London
Size: One-fifth of an acre
Been in the garden: 34 years
Soil: Stony, moist but free
Aspect: West facing
Open: Sunday, April 24, 12-5pm;
Wednesday, April 27, 6-8pm
Welcome to the meticulously designed garden of Charles Rutherfoord! An architectural designer, he designs gardens, interiors and furniture, and in his own garden he’s combined his love of design with a passion for plants. Hidden behind a Victorian house in central London, almost every patch of ground is bursting with life.
“It’s a plantsman’s garden,” he explains. “I kept the hard landscaping to a minimum and only reluctantly even introduced paths. It’s as near to entirely planted as it can be.”
Right now hundreds of tulips crowd through the garden, planted in deep drifts of blending or contrasting colours. Charles plants hundreds of bulbs every year so each spring the colour theme is fresh and new. He selects and orders his new tulips every year at the Chelsea Flower Show, proving the event isn’t just about the polished show gardens, its about brilliant nurseries and their plants too.
“I spend nearly an hour going round and round choosing. It means I can order there and then and I don’t find they’ve suddenly run out of the ones I want later on,” he says.
As well as being practical, it means he can appreciate the real colour of the flowers rather than banking everything on an image in a catalogue. “It’s lovely to see the real flowers,” he adds. “I’m very much a colourist so I want to see them in the flesh. But I’ve been growing tulips for a long time so it’s getting difficult not to buy ones I’ve had before!”
The tulips are under-planted with forget-me-nots and wallflowers, and elsewhere peonies, Euphorbia mellifera and an arching laburnum provide more spring colour. With others adding architectural form to the borders, along with shrubs and trees, creating an oasis of green in one of the most built-up parts of Britain.
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