Words Karen Murphy Pictures Marcus Harpur
Lucy Redman’s garden was the centre of attention for the National Garden Scheme for many years, and as an example to her garden design students of exquisite, but achievable, planting. She and her husband Dominic don’t open for the NGS any more, preferring to take a step back to enjoy the fruits of their labour.
It’s still a glorious feast for the eyes, with a heady mix of carefully chosen planting everywhere you look. “I’m very proud of my garden. I’ve always done the design and planting, although I roped in family and friends to help with open days in the past. But now I can just get on with it,” says Lucy.
Dominic has lived in their 1930s thatched cottage, in a small hamlet three miles outside of Bury St Edmunds, for over 30 years, but it’s only since Lucy moved there in 1998 that the garden has become a premium feature of the house in itself, and a wonderfully abundant space.
The % of an acre was a blank, unremarkable canvas to work with when she arrived. Due to Lucy being an accomplished plantswoman, gardener and designer, it is now a quirky cottage garden with a wealth of novel features, artistically planted and landscaped, and added to with some choice metal sculpture by her husband. “I haven’t made it unattainable though – I’d say I’m a maximalist gardener, like a lot of people, not minimalist like some Chelsea
gardens you see,” she says.
The garden seems to be frozen in time during winter, when long-past-it perennials and climbers stand sentinel with barren frosty stems for structure and form. It wraps around the house, creating areas that receive sun at different times. The back garden is very sunny and has summer border perennials in it that like to bake in the sun, whereas the front is shadier and holds the more sensitive plants.
When she arrived, Lucy made a basic sketch with an outline of the garden. “I wanted to plant up particular beds that lined up with the windows and doors, so that when you look out from the house you can see the most beautiful areas,” she says.