Everyone needs an escape – somewhere to sit still, breathe deeply and forget the stresses of daily life. For busy PR consultant Sylvie Pender, that escape is the garden of her 1850s weavers’ cottage in Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire.
Sylvie bought the cottage in 2013 after falling for its welcoming vibe, and spent the next year transforming the outdoor space to reflect the atmosphere inside.
“For me, a home should be a happy, laid-back space,” she explains. “I wanted the garden to be the same – relaxed, romantic, slightly untamed. This is my retreat from the city, so there’s nothing forced or overly contemporary; just nature, and lots of it.”
The garden sits at the front of the building, separated from the door by a communal pathway, but it feels wonderfully secluded thanks to the abundance of flowers and foliage bursting from the beds. The subtle planting mixes blooms in various shades of white, purple and pink (snowdrops and tulips in spring, alliums, foxgloves and cow parsley in summer), all offset by silvery grasses and deep-green leaves. There are plenty of edible treats, too: wild strawberries and herbs are dotted here and there, and a wrought-iron bench sits under an apple-laden, vine-entwined arbour in one corner.
The overall result is idyllic: bees hover in the flowers, butterflies dance in the trees, and the scent of lavender and rosemary floats on the breeze. It’s easy to see why Sylvie now considers the garden to be an extension of the house.
“During summer, this is my lounge and dining room,” she says. “I spend most evenings out here, and I feel myself unwind as soon as I step outside. My office is only half an hour by train, but sitting here with a glass of wine, surrounded by birdsong and dappled sunlight, it could be a million miles away.”
Photography by Abi Dare