Gardens Illustrated
Batcombe House garden, designed by Libby Russell
© Jason Ingram

Designer Libby Russell's own garden at Batcombe House

Published: December 9, 2021 at 10:04 am

In her own Somerset garden, designer Libby Russell has created a unified sense of place in a garden of two distinct halves. Words Jodie Jones. Photographs Jason Ingram

When designer Libby Russell first set eyes on Batcombe House, her rural Somerset home, she saw that its ancient valley setting had the potential to contain something really special, and she has spent the past two decades perfecting that vision.

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Andy Salter's plantsman's garden
© Claire Takacs

The 18th-century building, sensitively restored and stylishly extended, is now embraced by a garden of two halves, divided by a retaining wall of soft local stone. To the south and west, lawns punctuated by hummocks of box rise in an amphitheatre of curves scythed into the slope. This cool, modernist space conjures the aesthetic of contemporary land forming, fringed with deep, undulating borders planted in a harmonious sweep of cool greens and whites with touches of colour. The garden stretches across three acres, with alkaline soil in the upper garden, and acidic pockets lower down. Read on below to find out more.

Batcombe House garden, designed by Libby Russell
© Jason Ingram

Batcombe House sits snugly in its valley setting, backed by a shelter belt of native woodland. The gardens to the south of the house are cool and calm, with a stone-framed border of Leucanthemum vulgare outside kitchen windows swagged with later-flowering rose, and the sloping lawn is carved into architectural swathes to form a contemporary amphitheatre.

Batcombe House garden, designed by Libby Russell
© Jason Ingram

Either side of the kitchen garden steps, historic rosa mundi (Rosa gallica 'Versicolor') sits comfortably next to the 20th-century cultivar ‘Felicia’. Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ washes the foreground with blue, while variegated Philadelphus coronarius ‘Variegatus’ and towering foxgloves draw the eye to the upper level.

Batcombe House garden, designed by Libby Russell
© Jason Ingram

The sinuous borders framing the sculpted lawns make good use of selected hardy geraniums, including Geranium Rozanne (= ‘Gerwat’) and Geranium ‘Blue Cloud’, and interesting foliage as varied as the glaucous Hosta sieboldiana var. elegans and chartreuse Euphorbia palustris.

Batcombe House garden, designed by Libby Russell
© Jason Ingram

Pretty, apricot-pink Rosa ‘Sally Holmes’, spires of Campanula latifolia var. macrantha ‘Alba’, ornamental grasses and spears of iris foliage are framed by a froth of Centranthus ruber ‘Albus’ in the foreground.

Batcombe House garden, designed by Libby Russell
© Jason Ingram

In the deep border, which runs either side of the stone-walled water tank, the elegant, clipped, silver-leaved Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’ complements soft lavender, alliums, deep purple spikes of Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’, Rosa ‘Felicia’ and Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’.

Batcombe House garden, designed by Libby Russell
© Jason Ingram

Leading towards the kitchen garden steps is an avenue of pyramid yews, underplanted with a pointillist mix of santolinas, alchemillas and Phlomis tuberosa ‘Amazone’, punctuated with Linaria maroccana Little Sweeties mixture and Lychnis coronaria Gardeners’ World (= ‘Blych’) among others.

USEFUL INFORMATION Find out more about Mazzullo + Russell’s work at mazzullorusselllandscapedesign.com

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Head here to discover eight key roses from Batcombe

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