Arne Maynard is one of the country’s most sought-after and internationally renowned garden designers. He’s celebrated for his ability to draw out the essence of a place. Written by Maynard himself, and illustrated with wonderfully atmospheric photographs by William Collinson, this beautiful book offers a fascinating insight into how his designs evolve. Maynard explains that the ‘structure of [each] garden has to “hold hands” with the environment, respecting the architecture of the house and the setting, the climate and the culture, whether urban or in the country’. Some gardens are historical with a modern twist, others very contemporary, but all share Maynard’s passion for plants and ‘green’ structure, and appear timeless in their style.
Altt-y-bela, in the rolling hills of wet Wales, is Arne Maynard and William Collinson’s current home. The original farmhouse became grander when the extraordinary tower was added in the 17th century. A froth of fox-eye daisies links the meadow to the house. A criss-cross of box hedging holds the herbaceous planting in an asymmetric space at the back of the house.
Pleached crab-apple trees frame the courtyard garden at Altt-y-bela, giving it a sense of enclosure. Under the canopy of standard box balls, Arne grows his rarest, most special plants.
At Altt-y-bela the pear arches trained on bent hazel rods form a productive entrance to the kitchen garden.
Roses are always essential to Arne Maynard’s gardens. Here ‘Seagull’ is encouraged along the iron railings at Llowes Court in Powys.
Haddon Hall in Derbyshire is one of the most romantic places in England. Its garden is arranged as a series of terraces, retained by enormous buttressed stone walls and original Elizabethan balustrades. Whilst celebrating its history, Arne Maynard has removed certain layers of planting at Haddon Hall that no longer felt right and pulled the atmosphere of the house and garden together.
The frame of native wild flowers forms the perfect soft foil for the native topiary at Haddon Hall.
In this productive kitchen garden at South Wood Farm in Devon, the magenta sweet williams (for cutting) are grown alongside crops of vegetables. All the plant supports and protective frames are made from hazel, artfully woven into shape by the gardener.
Maynard’s passion for colour, plants and design is evident throughout this inspiring book, and he provides the reader with a clear reference guide to the building blocks that he uses in his designs. The main garden chapters are punctuated with features on the ‘essentials’ such as craftsmanship, topiary, borders and kitchen gardens that Maynard uses time and again, creating gardens that are perfect for their settings and that will be a pleasure to garden for years to come.
Every one of Maynard’s designs begins with a process of careful observation that enables him to identify those vernacular elements that will be mirrored or referenced in the garden. This is a technique that Maynard has applied very successfully to the gardens of his own homes, first at Guanock House in the flat fenlands of Lincolnshire and now at Allt-y-bela, his stunning home nestled among the rolling hills of rural Wales. Both gardens are featured in the book, and it’s instantly apparent how different they are, yet how completely in harmony they are with their surroundings.
Arne Maynard has created more than 200 gardens worldwide throughout his 25-year career, including two Gold Medal-winning gardens at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. He and William Collinson live and work at the medieval tower house Allt-y-bela, where Maynard teaches garden design courses and Collinson has based his garden photography work.
The Gardens of Arne Maynard is published by Merrell (£45). Text by Arne Maynard; photographs by William Collinson