Sussex Life Gardening

PUBLISHED: 08:31 30 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:28 20 February 2013

Sussex Life Gardening

Sussex Life Gardening

Nigel and Trixie Hall have achieved wonders in a small garden at their home in Worthing. Leigh Clapp was entranced by what she found

An Oasis of Green

Vistors to this serene town garden are surprised to learn that the natural-looking contoured landscape is actually man-made.
Owners, Nigel and Trixie Hall, have transformed a completely flat plot of 70ft x 80ft into a valley effect, complete with ferny dell and pond.
Our sanctuary has been created to give the impression of a much larger garden, giving different views as you go round the pathways, explained Nigel.

Amateur watercolourist, Nigel, sees the garden as an art form with the structure and plants as his canvas.
Originality is important in art and this mini-landscape is an intriguing way to increase the sense of space in a tiny suburban garden, he added.
The sculptural essence of this garden is testament to Nigels vision and hard work that included digging out the valley by hand to form the pond, building the summerhouse and a series of retaining walls.
Combine this with a planting palette for year-round interest, developed with Trixies input, and you have a private oasis that is captivating and full of colour in all seasons.

Shrubs form the backbone to plantings of bulbs, annuals and perennials.
Masses of daffodils, rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and heathers in spring are followed by roses and clematis and then sunny daisies, vibrant salvias and hydrangeas at the height of the summer.
Attention is paid to all levels right down to the groundcovers, planted on contoured mounds to give a natural undulating effect, with their carpets of changing hues.

It is intriguing that so many different views have been created, both from inside the house looking out to different vignettes, as you wander the figure-eight configuration of pathways or take time to pause and soak up the peaceful atmosphere.
Its lovely to sit in the summerhouse and see the views up from the valley and also under the shady pergola to the open sunny beds and lawn, said Trixie.


  • popular deciduous shrubs

  • grown for large showy flowerheads

  • flat or domed clusters of flowers midsummer

Growing notes

  • colours, except white, affected by the acidity or alkalinity of soil

  • blooms are blue in acid soil, pink in alkaline, bluish-pink in neutral

  • moist, well-drained fertile soil

  • sun or part shade

  • shelter from cold, drying winds

  • light annual pruning enhances flowering

  • leave old flowerheads over winter

Lazy Daze

With full-blown blowsy summer time, take a break and enjoy the fruits of your labour. Have a picnic on the lawn, sling a hammock between some trees, enjoy the Sussex sunshine and long warm evenings. Plan some gardening activities for the children, have an insect hunt, make a daisy chain. The main tasks this month are deadheading faded blooms, weeding and keeping up with the watering, so be thankful for any rain as well.

Summers bounty

Harvest time for crops such as strawberries, salads, young courgettes and tender beetroot. If you havent had a chance to plant some edibles, you can still put in some summer herbs and salad plants. Time to sow autumn/winter salads, oriental vegetables, spring cabbage, radishes and turnips.

Thirsty visitors

In a dry summer water may be scarce for wildlife. Clean and top up bird feeders and baths. Extra water dishes may be needed for birds and mammals. Change the water regularly and keep filled. Standing water may become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Top up ponds and remove dead foliage from aquatic and marginal plants.

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