Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Black and White Cottage

Black and White Cottage near Ockley in Surrey is doubly notable.  The home of garden designer Anthony Paul and sculpture gallery owner Hannah Peschar it reflects both their passions - the garden and sculpture are closely involved with each other in a mutually beneficial relationship.

The garden demonstrates Anthony's desire for calm, naturalistic spaces.  It is supremely well suited to the site with drifts of simple block planting sweeping beneath the old, often multi-stemmed, trees which the garden is is home to.  A subtly edited woodland garden with swathes of miniature bamboo in one area, skilful use of water and some wonderful sculpture, this place is very evocative, especially in early summer when the sun is filtered through fresh greens and puddles on the mossy floor in the gloom.
The sculpture - a mixture of materials and scales - is deployed throughout the garden with care.  The current display includes shimmering reflective globes, suspended oaken hoops which recall the wheelwright's craft and a variety of loosely figurative works.

The very best thing about this garden is, however, the sense of discovery you experience as you explore.  There are hidden corners presided over by abstract stone carvings, a limpid pool of still water which echoes to a faintly chiming sound sculpture, and a tumbledown mossy stone stairway leading to nowhere.  The division of space with greenery and trees makes the garden feel much larger than it is, with the focus always the water at it's centre.

Many gardens are called 'magical', but I think this one really justifies the adjective - serene, assured and quietly welcoming.


Paul Ridley Design

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