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Guest Blog with jarmanmurphy garden designers

Anna Murphy writes…:

 We first met Martin at RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2013 when we were new to the wonderful world of garden design.

 A few years later, after forming our garden design partnership, we were on the hunt for some seating for our RHS Tatton Park ‘Back to Back’ garden.

 Cheekily I asked Martin if he had any simple wooden blocks we could borrow for our garden and to my utter surprise, he said he had a couple of larch prototype block stools that were drying out in his workshop.  The stools were just what we were looking for and Martin was happy to loan them to us for the show.  

 Martin kindly arranged their transportation to Knutsford, where they were looked after by a friend who soon became ‘The jarmanmurphy Support and Logistics Centre’. She was very happy to be involved, and sent us pictures of the arrived stools, and moved them to their own quiet corner, to keep clean and to dry out, in time for the show.

 Unwrapping the stools on the garden was one of the final preparations before we were judged.  They were perfect in their quiet corner, adding a contemporary feel to the planting and cobbles.  All complete and with our nerves jangling, the garden was ready for judging.

 The show was a wonderful time for us, and we were awarded a Gold Medal and Best in Category, and had the garden proclaimed ‘subtle, sophisticated and even delicate’ by no other than Monty Don, who also said it was his favourite of the show. Needless to say, we were overjoyed after all our hard work.  It was an amazing week, and Martin and Celia were equally delighted to see so many famous posteriors resting on their seating and enjoying the garden.  


Fergus Garrett
Monty Don
Joe Swift

A few weeks after the show, Martin rang to say how much he’d liked our garden, and would we be interested in redesigning part of the garden at his home in Lyme Regis. We didn’t need to think twice, and soon enough, we were heading westwards for our first meeting at the Sitting Spiritually garden.  We do love a road trip! 

Sarah Jarman writes….

Gardens are special places with individual atmospheres, histories and magic, and so when invited to redesign part of a garden, a balance has to be found between what has gone before and what will be created and added anew.

 Selecting new plants and combinations for the Sitting Spiritually garden has allowed us to explore a naturalistic style that sits deep within our hearts.  We were keen to develop and extend Martin and Celia’s love for clipped topiary hedging and abundant naturalistic planting that teeters just on the edge of wildness.  

A coastal, hillside location and the need to create a feel of intimacy within the garden, without obscuring or distracting from the beautiful scenery beyond, have been paramount in our minds as we sketched and designed the new additions and planting plans, over the past year.

 A secluded seating area beneath the main balcony now feels like a secret sanctuary surrounded by a back layer of shade loving ferns and clipped bay-balls.   Beyond, the planting opens out into the light and envelopes a stone balanced sculpture with delicate tall grasses and aromatic herbs.  The view across the garden over the valley, is not obscured but enhanced through a delicate veil of inflorescences.

After a lick of paint, to smarten and modernise, the summerhouse now sits proudly within a new deck platform and a contemporary boardwalk that links to the main house.  The boardwalk, complete with glass inserts, allows a peep through to the woodland planting beneath, and a chance for Martin to play Peekaboo with his grandchildren.

Surrounding the main platform, the playful planting will create soft billowing clouds of grasses and perennials combined with anchoring, mound forming evergreens such as Euphorbia ‘Humpty Dumpty and Pittosporum ‘Tom Thumb’.  A multi-stem Acer ginnala invites a view through to the hills whilst sitting on the swing seat and pausing for a while.

Measuring up with Martin
Secluded seating area
Martin chooses the Acer Ginnala

Tall grasses and sky reaching perennials sway with the breeze, remaining long into the autumn and winter, their seed-heads and silhouettes linking to the Fennel and Cardoons that already stake their claim on the rest of the garden.

After a hard days planting, with Bob the gardener, we finally found ourselves under an immense, starry, Dorset sky.  Muddy, tired and perching on the swing seat, a chance to gaze over the garden and valley beyond. It all felt truly magical - we were sitting spiritually at last.  

Bob contemplates the garden taking shape

Sitting Spiritually would like to thank Jarman Murphy for all their hard work, amazing designs, thoughtful planting and most importantly for being such tremendous fun to work with.  

Look out for Part 2 of their Guest Blog for us in November

Contact  jarmanmurphy garden designers

Sarah Jarman: 07872 972259  Anna Murphy 07812 086104

Posted by Siobhan on October 31st 2016

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