The garden at Spurfold is so beautifully put together that it comes as no surprise to discover the owners Anne and Anthony Barnes are both commercial interior designers. Verdant striped lawns and immaculate borders are resplendent in shades of green and splashes of harmonious colour.

Since the couple moved to the property in 1990, they have gradually created a stunning garden that makes the most of the sloping site. They added a formal sunken topiary parterre garden and water features. Swathes of lawns are enhanced by densely planted shrub and herbaceous borders. Terraces extending out on three sides of the house are designed to follow the sun, with areas to sit out from breakfast through to dinner.

With its acidic soil, azaleas, rhododendrons and acers thrive. Many of the shrubs are neatly clipped in spherical forms in the beds, making a great juxtaposition to the geometry of the sunken parterre by the house.

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Project notes

  • Character of garden: Located in the Surrey Hills AONB and surrounded by woodland on all sides, it includes formal areas with topiary, split-level terraces, and dining areas
  • Size: 2.5 acres of garden, plus two acres of woodland
  • Aspect: East, south and west
  • Soil: Acidic, free-draining
  • Period of house: 1930s
  • Owners: Anne and Anthony Barnes, since 1990
  • Visiting: Opens through the NGS, visits by arrangement May to August. Spurfold, Peaslake, Surrey GU5 9SZ
garden with topiary

Seen from the Arts & Crafts house, the sunken parterre is fringed in foliage plants, such as Alchemilla mollis, irises and hardy geraniums

garden with sunken parterre

It takes an artistic eye to create a landscape of lovely proportions, knowing which plants to shape and the combination of shades, texture and form

garden terrace area

Terraces extend out from the house on three sides, offering spots to relax or dine all day long

garden with alliums

Allium aflatunense ‘Purple Sensation’ is a popular choice for its violet globes

garden pond with buddha head

Decorative detailing completes the scene, including statuary collected on the couple’s travels, such as this Cambodian Buddha head by the formal pond

Advice on designing a garden

  • Work with the contours of the land but do draw a plan and even use materials to mark it out and have a good look at the spaces
  • Creating level areas on a sloping site makes for useable rooms
  • Clip some of the shrubs to give a clear distinction from the wildness of the surrounding woodland
  • Don’t overlook the power of green in the garden, with the array of different shades
  • Use layered planting – trees, climbers, shrubs, herbaceous to groundcovers
  • Consider the passage of the sun through the day to provide sunny and shady spots to sit out
  • Decorate with sculptural features to lead the eye or punctuate a space
garden corner with pots of herbs

An old wooden water pump makes an attractive feature and a collection of terracotta pots are planted with mixed herbs for the kitchen

garden with variegated greens

For a long season of interest, consider the foliage of plants to form layers of different greens and variegated tones in a garden

garden with cornus controversa

Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’ – or wedding cake tree – makes a delicate tiered canopy
above Rhododendron ‘Dreamland’

garden cornus controversa detail

Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’ produces clusters of white flowers in June

garden with wisteria

Early summer’s beautiful wisteria blooms

garden with immaculate lawns

A swing over immaculate lawns offers a lovely spot to sit and soak up the surrounding colours

garden greenhouse with blackened cladding

Dark stained cladding around the greenhouse complements the Arts & Crafts style garden