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Tom Stuart Smith's Barn Garden

We took a cheeky afternoon off this week to visit Tom Stuart Smith's private garden in Serge Hill. We were paticularly looking forward to seeing his 'Prairie', which is a half acre meadow seeded with North American perennials. This kind of planting is at its peak in late summer / autumn and over a large area such as this the result is stunning.

Rudbeckias, Asters and Silphiums provide the main flowering interest in september, mixing with grasses and the seedheads of perennials which have finished.

Spikes of Liatris contrast with the seedhead dots of Echinacea, Dianthus Cartusianorum and Eryngium yuccifolium.

We particularly liked the combination of the deep pink Aster novae-angliae 'Septemberubrin' and the yellow Rudbeckia fulgida deamii.

The Prarie is only one section of this garden and the Courtyard Garden below is one of the more well known areas, recycling some of the elements of a Chelsea Show Garden. Still water is a great idea for an enclosed courtyard area as it can bring light into a dark space with reflections of the sky.

We like the Euphorbia segueriana niciciana seen at the bottom of this photo as it has a lovely fresh lime green zing at a time when most plants are looking tired. It goes beautifully here with the Astrantia major 'Ruby Wedding' which is enjoying its second flush of flowers.

Another combination of plants we enjoyed was the Similarly shaped heads of Sedum and Eupatorium softened with grasses and willow. The colours combine beautifully and as a whole, this group has a lovely soft autumny feel.

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